Like a book? Leave a review.
Simple as that, right? It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s a chance to make your opinion known to the world. Besides, it’s probably the single kindest thing you can do for an aspiring author short of a basket of warm muffins and a nice long shoulder rub.
But the sad fact is most readers don’t leave reviews. Some of us are naturally private with our opinions, or we think nobody is going to care, or we think it’s harder to post a review than it really is. There are no real numbers out there for precisely what percentage of readers leave reviews. Some authors say maybe as high as 5 percent. Some say definitely less than 1 percent. So if you, like me, are lucky to sell a few copies in a good week, reviews will be few and a long time coming.
And that’s a problem, because we all know reviews are important. So I’m going to share with you one method of finding more reviewers. It’s labor intensive and has a low rate of return, but it doesn’t involve pestering your distant relations and definitely doesn’t involve buying a bundle of spurious, interchangeable, two-sentence reviews at five bucks a pop.
Here’s how the game is played:
1) Go to Amazon and find books in a similar genre to your own, preferably titles with a lot of reviews.
2) Scan the list of reviews and pick out reviewers who have left contact information, preferably an email address. (Warning: damn few reviewers leave contact information.)
3) Send these reviewers a polite email request offering them a free gift copy of your eBook in exchange for an honest review.
4) Wait. But don’t hold your breath. Much like with querying literary agents, a large majority of your requests will probably go unanswered, so just move on to the next name on the list and don’t worry about it.
5) You got a positive reply? Hey, terrific! Send that kind soul a gift copy of your book post-haste, and then…
6) Wait some more. ‘Cause hey, they have to read it, right?
Only sometimes? They don’t.
Over the last six months I’ve sent out a lot of requests, and I’ve kept track so as to avoid annoying people with duplicate requests. A spreadsheet of some sort would be ideal.
Anyway, as near as I can tell from my hen-scratched pages, my total numbers look something this:
Requests sent to prospective reviewers: 78
Positive Responses: 13
Reviews generated: 8
Yep. Eight reviews. And four of those reviews came from reviewers who reviewed both of my books, bless them, so the response rate is even worse than it looks. And this doesn’t even include a few dozen book blogs I queried directly.
The obvious conclusion to draw is that this whole experiment was an exercise in futility, and sure, in terms of effort/gain analysis, it was a flop. It takes a lot of time combing through reviews looking for prospects, and the success rate is dismal, but I got some good reviews out of the enterprise. This one, and this one, and this one, are all the direct result of my futile exercise.
And just between us, there’s nothing quite so gratifying as having a total stranger tell the world how much they love the book you’ve written.
So how about you? Where do your reviews come from? And how do you get more?