Authors’ tips for gaining more reviews
No one has to convince you that reviews are absolutely essential to your marketing game.
But once you’ve pressed your family and friends into leaving reviews – hopefully good ones – what’s the next step?
We turned to two authors with some impressive review numbers, to better answer that question.
Greg Enslen is the author of twenty-four books, the most popular of which has over 1,600 reviews on Amazon.
He recommends using book promotion sites (disclosure: yes, he uses us, but he uses other sources as well) on a regular, active basis.
“In my experiences, for every hundred copies of book sold or given away, I get one review,” Enslen says. “So, like Letterman used to say, it's all about volume.”
Maybe you can’t use a marketing service, for whatever reason. If you have a solid email newsletter list, then Enslen suggests sending out a request to those subscribers to read and review your work.
You don’t even necessarily need that list, though, just a few names. “Ask your best readers to review everything you write,” he says.
That’s exactly what fellow author Toby Neal, a USA TODAY best-seller, does: make smart use of a core following to spread the good word about her works.
She gives out twenty to forty advance copies to her “review team” of a hundred-plus readers, and keeps track of who follows through with a review.
“We drop folks who don't follow through,” Neal says. “It's competitive. … I would have more reviewers but don't want to give away too many books!”
Those reviews serve far more purpose than simply providing a one-off rating on Amazon. Neal and her assistant share the most articulate (and spoiler-free) ones on social media, which then encourages other readers to step up their review game.
“It creates an environment where they want their review to be picked,” she says. “This has led to thoughtful, high-quality reviews.”
(It bears mentioning that without a strong online presence, whether that means social media or newsletters, you won’t have that pool of readers who yearn for your spotlight – so you’ll also want to follow Neal’s example in nurturing a relationship with them.)
Neal and Enslen together write in a range of genres – mystery, thrillers, sci-fi, contemporary romance, young-adult, and nonfiction – though of course that leaves many others uncovered.
In their experiences, readers in these categories all seem equally happy to leave reviews, though Neal has heard that racier novels can pose a challenge for review-seeking authors.
“Steamy romance seems to be tricky because folks don't want to be known to read in that genre,” she says.
That doesn’t mean that erotica authors – or any other writers, for that matter – should throw in the towel and look for a replacement for strong reviews.
“From the very first book you publish, make strong reviews a leg in your author platform,” Neal says. “It will help everything you do from there, from advertising to giveaways.”
Even if you have dozens of books under your belt, that’s no excuse.
“Stick to it,” Enslen says. “Promote the titles that need reviews, and keep writing. Each new title begets new readers – and new reviewers.”
From the archive: Author L.L. Collins shared her tips on getting early reviews in a 2014 guest post for us. Also, Toby Neal chatted with us in 2015 about participating in Kindle Worlds.