With a little hard work, self published authors can increase the number of reviews they get on Amazon and Goodreads. Outlined here are 5 free sites for book reviews, as well as some low cost services.
Do Book Reviews Matter?
Before we get to how to get more book reviews, we should stop and consider: do book reviews matter? Ask an established author, a publisher and a self-published author and you’ll probably get 3 very different answers. The subject of user reviews is a controversial one, and not just in the world of book promotion. There IS data about how reviews impact sales, and much of it suggests that, yes, reviews make a difference to how much attention your book gets.
Search Engine Optimization on E-Commerce Sites
If you’re a self-published author selling your book on Amazon or other book sites, you probably already know that feedback from readers impacts your sales. Amazon is tight-lipped about the algorithm it uses to rank and suggest books, but reviews are part of the formula. The site uses the amount of user activity (meaning reviews) when it presents search results or suggests “people who bought this book also bought”
What the Data Says
- In 2012, a Taleist survey on self-publishing showed that authors who had their books reviewed by Amazon’s top reviewers (in the top 5000) had an average increase in sales of 32%.
- A study by The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business found that positive customer feedback increased sales of eBooks by 32% to 52% but that even BAD reviews increased sales of books by unknown authors by as much as 45%. This finding seems to confirm that Amazon’s search engine looks for social signals/user activity. And proves that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
- Stanford University’s groundbreaking Web Credibility Research Survey found that the #1 enhancer of a product or service’s credibility in the eyes of consumers was whether it provided “third party support” like comments and reviews.
Where do self-published and independent authors, who don’t have the power of a big publisher behind them, get user reviews? We all know that you can pay for them, give away free books in return for a review, or pester your relatives to review for you. But there are also some free resources online that authors can use:
- BooksBlog is a community of authors and book bloggers who work together at reciprocal promotion. There are hundreds of forums where you can post information about your book and ask for reviews.
- The Indie View – A vast list of book bloggers (there are literally hundreds here) who specialize in reviewing independent authors. Some blogs do charge a fee, so make sure you read their guidelines.
- Story Cartel allows authors and reviewers to connect without money changing hands. The author provides a free book in exchange for an honest review.
- The Great Big Book Reviewer List, provides links to the submission pages of over 30 book blogs, all in one place. Click and start submitting!
Low Cost Book Review Services
There are many book review services that charge upwards of $350 per review. For most self published authors, that price point is out of the question. But if you don’t have the time it takes to get free reviews of your self published work and you’re willing to pay modest service fee to a book review service, there are several low cost options.
- BookPlex offers a money back guarantee and 2 options: send them a free copy of your book to review or pay extra and they will buy your book from Amazon and post a verified review. Prices range from $82 to $105 for 5 reviews.
- Book Rooster sends an advance copy of your book to reviewers, and guarantees that you will receive 5 reviews. Its reviews are written by “typical” book reviewers, e.g. not in an overly literary or professional style. The price for 5 reviews is $67.00.
- Author Key Book Marketing sends free copies of your book to readers in its database who have expressed an interest in your book’s genre, as well as to Amazon Top Reviewers who review books similar to yours. The service costs $55.00 for 5 guaranteed Amazon reviews.