10 places to find reviewers for your self-published book

How to find reviewers for your self-published bookSelf-publishing is a great way to get your book into the world. But when you self-publish, you take on all the responsibilities that a traditional publisher usually would, including marketing the book, soliciting reviews, sending out review copies, and generating buzz. (And it’s best to start on these things before your book is published.) So, how do you do find the reviewers to help you get the word out? Well, we’ve got some suggestions for you.

But before we get to that – and before you start to contact reviewers – it’s important to understand how to contact them.

What to do:

1. Do your research.
Only contact reviewers who are interested in reviewing the type of books you have written. (See below for some good places to find the right reviewers.)

2. Read their review policy.
Do they only want e-books, or printed books? What genres are they currently interested in reading? Are they currently accepting new books for review? Check out their rules, and follow them.

3. Write a personalized email to the potential reviewer.
No one likes to get a form letter, or spam. Use a salutation, and their name – not just “Hi” or “Dear reviewer,” but rather, “Dear Jane Smith” or at least “Dear Jane.” If there’s no personal name listed, use their username.

Tell the reviewer who you are, how you found them, a little bit about your book, when it will be published. Tell them that if they’re interested, you’d be glad to send them a copy. Specify what format the book will be in (which ebook format, printed book, or if they will have a choice). Thank them for their time and consideration, and say that you look forward to hearing from them. Then sign it, with your full name.

Don’t forget the subject line, either: emails with the subject “Review Inquiry” or “Review Request” will get a better response as they make it easy to identify what your message is about.

Here’s how to write an excellent review query.

4. Before sending your email, spell-check and proofread.
Errors leave a poor impression and make the reviewer less likely to accept your book. They’ll figure your book is full of typos, too.

5. The ultimate purpose of a review isn’t to please you.
Books with reviews do tend to sell better. However, it’s important to understand that reviewers ultimately aren’t written for the author’s benefit. They’re written for the potential reader to give them enough information so that they can make a purchasing decision.

What not to do:

1. If they do accept the book, don’t expect the reviewer to guarantee a review.
Reviewers don’t accept books they have no intention of reviewing, but sometimes they may not be able to – or wish to – eventually review it. That’s OK. They’re not the only reviewer out there. Move on.

2. Don’t expect, or ask for, a positive review.
No reviewer can promise this. Any reviewer worth approaching has integrity and will always post an honest review, whether one star or five. (As people’s opinions will naturally vary, there’s often something fishy when books have only five-star reviews, anyway.)

3. Don’t ask the reviewer to promise a review to be published on or near a particular date.
(Do feel free to tell the reviewer the date of your book’s publication.) Please understand that most reviewers have a big stack of books to review. Reviews take more time than you might think. The reviewer reads the book – maybe more than once – takes notes, then writes and posts the review. You’re asking them to do at least several hours of work for you, on their own time, for free. And they’re not doing it for money, but rather for the love of books, and of reviewing.

This is why you can’t expect a promise of a review by a certain date (or even at all). It’s understandable that you’re anxious for the reviews to start rolling in, but just hang tight, keep soliciting reviews, and one day you’ll have a bunch of them.

4. Never offer payment for a review.
All an honest reviewer will accept is the book itself. Don’t offer a bribe! Paid reviews are not allowed on any reputable websites and can get the reviewer – and sometimes yourself – in a world of trouble, and banned from review websites.

5. Don’t expect an answer to your query.
I know – that almost seems unreasonable, doesn’t it, not to expect the reviewer to reply. The reason that some don’t reply is that many reviewers – especially popular and highly-ranked ones – get so many review queries that it takes too much time to reply to them all. So, they wind up only replying to those they have an interest in reviewing.

6. If a potential reviewer declines to review your book, take it graciously.
Don’t ask why, try to change their mind, or pester them. Stay on good terms – reply briefly with thanks for their time and consideration. Who knows, perhaps they’ll review your next book.

7. After a review is published, don’t comment on the review.
Not even if you disagree with it. Even if the reviewer says something terribly wrong, even factually wrong. Even if they say it’s the best book they’ve ever read. Or the worst! Commenting can make you look petty, overbearing or argumentative, and can turn potential readers against you, ensuring they never read your book. Just. Don’t. Do. It. Ever. (Here’s why.)

10 places to find reviewers for your books.

OK. Now that you understand how to approach reviewers, how do you find them?

1. Amazon’s “Meet Our Authors” Forum

Amazon has a “Meet Our Authors” forum where you can introduce yourself, and also ask for reviews. There are various genre-specific threads too.

(Tip: Don’t post to the Amazon “Top Reviewers Forum” – it’s only for reviewers to talk about the act of reviewing, not for authors asking for reviews. Authors don’t get a good reception there, to put it lightly. Believe me, I hang out there sometimes and have seen things get ugly, fast.)

2. Amazon’s Top Reviewers

Amazon ranks its reviewers according to a variety of criteria and publishes the list. You can go through the list to look for those reviewers who review books in your genre. It will take some time. Those reviewers who include an email address or website in their profile are usually open to being contacted regarding potential reviews. (Some are not.) Before emailing, read their reviews of books in your genre. Pay close attention to any review guidelines which are included in the reviewer’s profile.

TheCreativePenn has a great blog post on getting Amazon reviewers to review your book.

3. Peruse the Amazon book pages

Check out other books similar to yours, and see who’s reviewed them. Look on these reviewers’ profiles to see if they’re open to review offers, as described above. If so, contact them.

4. LibraryThing & Goodreads

On LibraryThing, people catalog, review, and discuss books. The site also functions as a social networking site and is a great place for authors to connect with potential readers. There are lots of things you can do to get the word out about your book here. One of them is to find reviewers.

LibraryThing offers the “Member Giveaway” – where you can give out your own books. Ebooks and printed books are equally welcome. You set a number of available books to offer, and people will enter a drawing to win them. Usually there are more people who sign up than available books, so there is a drawing at the end of the giveaway period.

Though those who receive your books are not required to review your book, you can let it be known that you hope they do. LibraryThing reviewers can post their reviews on that site, but some often post their reviews elsewhere, such as Amazon.com and Goodreads.

Goodreads is similar to LibraryThing, but bigger. Only publishers can give away books for free there, but you can still find potential reviewers through their groups, some of which are dedicated to connecting authors with reviewers. (Use the group search box to find them.) Before posting review opportunities, be sure to check that the rules of the particular group allow it.

5. Social networking sites

Search for people who review your genre of book on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites, and start making connections. Much has been written elsewhere on how to connect with people on these sites, so that’s all I’ll say about it here.

6. Google

Turn to Google to find bloggers who review books similar to yours. Try various searches such as the name of your genre (e.g. YA, poetry, American history, vampire fiction) followed by one of these phrases: book blog, book blogger, book reviews, book review blog, book review blogger. Try various combinations and think of some of your own, investigate the results, and you’re bound to come up with some good ones.

7. Services which connect authors and reviewers

There are quite a lot of specialized websites which will make your book available to reviewers. Here are a few we know of:

The Bookbag. Publishes book reviews on their site, with links to the books on Amazon.

Author Marketing Club. Submit your digital books for review, and announce your Amazon free download days. Free.

BookRooster. Provides free copies of your Kindle book for its members to read and review. They will send review copies of your book out until at least 10 reviewers have posted their reviews of your book on Amazon. Cost is $67 per book.

Kindle Book Review. Makes it easy for authors of Kindle books to connect with Amazon reviewers. Free.

8. Reviewer directories and lists

The Book Blogger List. A categorized directory of book reviewers, organized by genre, which makes it easy to locate potential reviewers for your book. Free.

Book Reviewer Yellow Pages (formerly Step By Step Self Publishing). Offers an online directory of book reviewers. It’s free, but they also offer paid Kindle and paperback versions.

List of literary / poetry review publications (many print-based)

9. Ask other authors

Ask other authors you’re acquainted with – either on or offline – who reviewed their book, and who they think you should get in touch with. Most authors are very willing to share their experiences and recommendations. When writing to a reviewer, be sure mention that your fellow author recommended that you contact them.

10. Look close to home & offline

There are plenty of local, offline sources for reviews, too:

  • local daily or weekly newspapers
  • school newspapers
  • organization and company newsletters
  • contact local indie bookstores to see if they know of any local reviewers

11. (yeah, forget 10 – we’re turning this baby all the way up to 11!)
The Indie View

The Indie View has a great list of reviewers in a number of genres. They also spotlight reviews and authors. Check it out.

don’t forget us

You know, if your book is arts-related nonfiction, or has anything to do with the Beat Generation, you might check out our very own review policy. We don’t accept many books for review – but you never know until you try! We also sometimes publish author interviews and book excerpts.

Summing up…

That’s all for now. If you have suggestions about getting reviews, please leave a comment. And stay tuned for more articles about promoting your self-published books!

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About Denise Enck

Denise is editor of Empty Mirror, as well as a writer and designer.

Comments

  1. Thank you for this post, this list will definitely boost up my reviewer count.

  2. AMAZING! Thank you so much.

  3. Hi JT,

    Congratulations on the publication of your book! Getting reviews is definitely a challenge. Without having seen your book or query email, I’m not sure why you haven’t had positive responses to your review query. But a lot depends upon the particular reviewers contacted, and how they are chosen.

    First, do your research to find reviewers who review the types of books you write, and who are currently accepting books for review.

    For example, I’m a reviewer; I clearly state on my review page here on Empty Mirror that I review Beat Generation and art-related books, do not review fiction, and am not accepting more books for review for the next few months. However, almost every day I receive review queries from authors who didn’t bother to read that; they offer me books about knitting, fantasy fiction, memoirs, guitar chords, children’s books, cooking, and more. I receive a lot of these, and most of them are deleted without reply.

    There are websites which categorize book bloggers/reviewers by the genres they review; those can be really helpful in finding the right reviewers. Or go to Amazon and see who has reviewed similar books to yours, and see if they have an email address on their profile.

    Second, sometimes it’s in the way that you approach the reviewer. Many queries I’ve received have been very impersonal, had spelling errors (doesn’t bode well for the book), were poorly written, required me to click a link to find out about the book, or wanted me to download free from Amazon on a particular day. Make it easy for the reviewer – address them by name if possible, give a brief synopsis of the book, tell where and when it’s available and in what formats. Don’t require the reviewer to do additional work to find out the basics about your book.

    (However, include a link to Amazon – or wherever the book’s sold – so they can investigate more if they want to.)

    Your query should contain everything necessary for the reviewer to make a decision.

    Also – make sure the book is in good shape and ready for review. Sometimes, before accepting an already-published book for possible review, I’ll read the sample on Amazon to see if it appeals to me. If I find excerpts full of typos, formatting errors, or awkward writing, I won’t accept the book.

    It’s harder to find reviewers for some genres than others. For example, fiction, YA and children’s book reviewers are plentiful (though often overburdened); reviewers for non-fiction, art and poetry are a little trickier to find.

    But some of it is just timing, and a little bit of luck. Most reviewers get lots of queries and have to turn down even books that sound really enjoyable to them due to time constraints. But following the tips above can give you better odds.

    You might also take a look at our article, “How to write an excellent review query” –
    http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/publishing/how-to-write-an-excellent-book-review-query.html

    Good luck, JT! If you have further questions, just let me know – I’d be really glad to help.
    all best,
    Denise

  4. I published my book in may, overlooking the need for a review. Since the time I must have approached 200-300 bloggers/sites for review unsuccessfully. any advice to get a free review?
    regards, jt

  5. selfpubber says:

    I’ve used http://www.selfpublishingreview.com and it worked out pretty well. It’s a paid review, but it wasn’t a shill review (i.e. overly nice).

  6. Thanks for the tip, Emily!

    Be careful though, if you’re posting those reviews on Amazon. Amazon doesn’t allow reviews by “reviewing circles” (groups of people who review each other’s books) and has been known to revoke reviewing privileges for those caught doing it.

    all best,
    Denise

  7. I’ve used easybookreviews.com a few times. If you are willing to review other books in return it is a guaranteed way to get some (honest) reviews.

    I’m also going to try story cartel but my books are already in kdp so I can’t have them available for free anywhere else at the moment. Also, story cartel aren’t amazon verified purchase reviews.

  8. John Scherber says:

    Self-publishing evolves. Up-to-date information can be found in my book, A Writer’s Notebook, along with 20 other topics that writers need to move their projects ahead. Help is here, so why work alone? Check out my website for a sample.
    http://www.sanmiguelallendebooks.com/writernotebook.html

  9. Gerard Thomas says:

    OMG! I’m so happy now you’ve mentioned everything from A-Z and thanks to include Amazon Book Reviewers List its very helpful for me.

  10. That’s a great idea, Lenita! Thanks so much. I’ll edit the article to include that. I’m glad you got a good response!

  11. This really helped me. I already got one “yes.” You might tell people to put “Review Request” in the subject line, otherwise they might get ignored the way I did when I put “possible book review?” I learned the hard way, but one website fortunately told me what to do, so I changed my tactic from then on.

  12. @IolaGoulton says:

    10 ways to find book reviewers (and some useful links) #writing #reviews

  13. Thanks Iola. I hadn’t heard of this one before, but I just checked it out – great resource! – Denise

  14. http://storycartel.com/ is another resource for authors to connect with reviewers.

  15. @marqjonz says:

    Exclnt!

  16. Excellent tips, Denise.

    I’ve had a great response to a simple, polite email I send to people who’ve reviewed a similar book to mine (#3 on your list).

    I send several review requests at the same time and combine it with a KDP free promo. That way, the reviewers can instantly download the book at no cost and when they come to review it it’ll have the “Amazon Verified Purchase” tag.

    Bonus: these types of reviewers tend to write thoughtful, useful reviews.

  17. RT @Phaedra4Real: “@ChaoticReader: Great article on how and where to find reviewers for your book. http://t.co/L1irM2UF5d” Dan’s right, great write-up.

  18. RT @Phaedra4Real: “@ChaoticReader: Great article on how and where to find reviewers for your book. http://t.co/L1irM2UF5d” Dan’s right, great write-up.

  19. @Phaedra4Real says:

    Dan’s right, great write-up.

  20. ChaoticReader says:

    Great article on how and where to find reviewers for your book. http://t.co/wtpNTZszk5

  21. So happy to hear you found it helpful! I wish you all the best with your book! – Denise

  22. This was so very informative. Thank you for providing these resources for us budding authors.

  23. Thanks, Rinelle. I’ll add it. Unlike LibraryThing, GoodReads’ giveaways are only through publishers rather than authors, which is why I left it off the list. But I forgot about the forums! So I’ll add it to the list. Gracias. – Denise

  24. A very extensive list of resources, I’ll be trying some of these.

    One you missed is Goodreads. There are several forums that have dedicated space to helping authors find reviewers. Make sure you check that this is OK though, some groups encourage it, some dislike it.

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