WANT TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN GET YOUR FIRST BOOK REVIEWS?
At this point in your publishing cycle, after all the dedication, late nights and passion you poured into your work, it is time to share it with the world. Time to release what you’ve invested your life in for months, even years, and receive those gleaming accolades from fans and top industry book reviewers.
Getting your book discovered in today’s crowded marketplace is challenging. You need to convince your audience why they should invest their time and money into YOUR book when there are so many other options available. Reviews are essential to attracting readers. Whether it’s the New York Times, Amazon, social media, or blogs, getting positive reviews published is not an easy feat, even for seasoned authors. You may think reviews will roll in over time by word of mouth, but without a strategic plan for prospecting those reviews, it’s highly unlikely.
Surprisingly, many authors start from scratch, with no prior email list, no publicity team, no reviews, no platform, no social media presence. In some cases, authors even resort to begging and buying reviews. But don’t get discouraged if this is you! Unless you have previous fame, EVERY author starts out as unknown, with few resources, just trying to gather reviews as quickly as possible. Luckily, there are many tools and techniques (legally and legitimately) to help you connect with book reviewers on the scale you need to make a difference.
So where do you begin?
STEP 1: START TO DEVELOP YOUR MARKETING PLAN EARLY.
Ideally, you should plan your book review campaign well in advance, approximately 6 months of your release date. Why so early? It takes time to build relationships and contacts. You also want to give your reviewers enough time to write so it can be as detailed and advantageous as possible.
STEP 2: IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE.
It’s impossible for a book to appeal to everyone.
It is crucial to first identify who will be most receptive to your book. Your message needs to be properly targeted and if you didn’t already, you need to immediately do some research on your target market’s wants, interests, and needs.
Research basic data about their age, gender, marital status, education, etc. You will then be able to craft statements based on who they are, where you’re likely to find them online and offline, where they’re likely to shop, what media they prefer, how they learn about new books, etc. They are likely to become advance copy reviewers and give you a greater chance of selling. Knowing your audience will make promoting your message through various channels of communication much easier and help in developing your marketing list.
If you’re an avid reader of the books you write, look at yourself as a sample of your target audience and assess your own behaviors and what influences you to choose one book over another.
STEP 3: BOOK BLOGGERS ARE YOUR NEW BEST FRIENDS.
Book bloggers are a group dedicated to reading and spreading the word about the books they read. They are the link between discovering your book and connecting your book to the readers. These bloggers spend countless hours reading, and have to be creative when it comes to their time, money, and shelf space. When they are passionate about a book, the rave reviews are plastered on a plethora of platforms (I love alliteration) such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Sometimes the reviews are even used for merchandise, guest posts, fan art, and even music!
Bottom line: Bloggers can help share and promote your book to their sphere of influence. Do some digging on social media and Google and track down as many book bloggers as you can find. Friend them, connect with them, and make a list of their contact info.
STEP 4: PREPARE YOUR PITCH.
In our experience, email is the best channel of communication to use when soliciting book reviews. When preparing to pitch, remember to keep it short and concise as these book reviewers and media contacts receive thousands of emails a day. Be direct and ask for what you want. Be clear on a media outlet’s review policy and follow it to a T. This shows respect to the reviewer that you took the time to read the instructions and guidelines. Also, read their previous reviews and reference that in your pitch. Make them feel special like you are giving them preference to review your book first because you think they would be the best fit.
Many of the reviewers require a free copy of the book in order to do a review. Once you send out the pitch, make sure you have enough books available to send (or if they prefer a digital copy, which more and more book bloggers do, make sure you have that on hand!) If you are sending a physical copy, create a personal letter addressed to the reviewer giving a synopsis of the book, why you wrote it, and telling them to enjoy reading. You may even want to include a piece of “lumpy mail” or swag, (something small and silly that goes along with your book title) so they remember you. Personal touches go a long way! Lastly, create a spreadsheet to keep track of the contacts you have reached out to and log who you’ve sent the book to and who still needs a copy.
STEP 5: FOLLOW UP.
This is an essential step in your book review campaign process. As reviewers receive thousands of submissions weekly, it is more than likely you won’t hear from them that day, week, or even months. But don’t fret. Having your spreadsheet will help keep you organized and ready in the follow-up process. One important rule of thumb: Do not contact them daily. I recommend following up weekly, and if you still have not heard from an outlet who you think is your prime demographic and would really be perfect, then follow up with a direct phone call. After the third follow up attempt with no response, hold off on connecting for another two months. Also, be polite every single time you are in contact with someone because if you are aggressive with your request, it will not be received well.
Reviews are one of the main factors that make your reader click the “purchase’ button. Have a strategic plan for reviews prior to your book being published. Authentic and honest book reviews will most definitely impact book sales. Just remember, once your work is out there, you can’t control other people’s reactions to it. Prepare to acknowledge and accept feedback whether it is negative or positive. These reviews will ultimately make you a better writer and marketer, and it will help you gain an overall knowledge of your brand and audience.
If you’re stuck at any point and need some help in your book review campaign process, that’s what we’re here for!