Gathering reviews for indie-published work

#1

I’d like to know that being independently published author (especially in romance genre), do you struggle to find reviews for your work? Say reviews on Amazon and Goodreads?
In my personal opinion, it’s a tedious job contacting bloggers and sending requests for reviews. Half of them accept the book but never bother to leave the review. How do you cope with this issue?
If an author is focused on contacting book bloggers and self-marketing, when will he/she get time to work on the manuscript?
I’d like to know your opinion.

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#2

Hi there,

This seems better suited in the #industry-insider, so it’ll get moved to there. You’ll hopefully also get more responses there.

Thanks for understanding,
Fray - Community Ambassador :frog:

#3

I don’t bother chasing reviews. They will appear naturally if books are sold - so I concentrate on selling, which is a necessary facet of self publishing.

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#4

I’ve never bothered chasing reviews. Sell books and reviews look after themselves.

Also, never pay for reviews - which is a violation of Amazon and Goodreads TOS.

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#5

A good question. You need a certain number of reviews to advertise in channels like Fussylibrarian for example. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation. Blog tours like with expresso might help. I have not checked out Netgalley requirements yet, but there you need to be very careful. A lot of NG reviewers are pretty tough and a three star review can hurt you. I would not bother to contact individual bloggers but target platforms. You might pay for the priviledge (not the review itself) but the ROI is better. In any case, I would focus on advertising where you can. Make sure you have in-book marketing as well, though the transversion rates here seem to be pretty low. But still, better to have it. It’s the marketing mix that drives your book. And yes, it is tough. Next question - how many books do you have out/written already? To gain traction, if you’re self-pubbed you usually need more than one (I’m not an expert on self-pubbing, I’ve got a trad contract but I’m planning to go hybrid, the reason why I’m ploughing through all this stuff).

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#6

Do you have an ARC team? Most of my reviews come from those and since the readers are familiar with your work, you also don’t tend to have bad surprises.

Otherwise, it has become increasingly difficult to get Amazon reviews due to purchasing thresholds. A lot of the common channels like book bloggers and NetGalley users are used to get books for free, so unless they also purchase other stuff from Amazon, they often don’t meet the required $50 to post the review.

I had mixed results with NetGalley co-ops – on one book, I got a lot of positive reviews (three and four stars which is excellent for them) but I went with the wrong co-op the second time and paid dearly. Reviewers tend to be very harsh and if you go with the wrong co-op and reader expectation are not aligned, it’s easy to get a bunch of one-star reviews.

The only other platform I can think of is Booksprout – I ended up with a handful of reviews and it’s free. Reviewers are friendly enough and I even found some that joined my ARC team and whipped through all my published books and left reviews.

However, organic reviews are still the best. I have a reminder at the end of each of my books for readers to leave reviews and I sometimes post in my FB group or request through my newsletter to leave reviews. As others pointed out, if your marketing works and you sell books, the reviews will come.

#7

Most of the time, the readers don’t even bother to write a review. And there are many writers who are not good at self- marketing

#8

Well, yes. Most readers do not leave reviews. The average sale:review ratio for Amazon that I’ve seen bandied around ranges from 70:1-120:1. But some readers do review, and as you sell more those reviews will appear. I would concentrate on selling books rather than trying to find bloggers or reviewers willing to write reviews. Tinker with AMS and Facebook ads. Book a slot in the discount emails like Fussy Librarian or Book Barbarian. If you have absolutely 0 reviews, sure, focus on getting a few. But whether you have 3 or 5 or 20 I think is largely irrelevant. If you’re short on time, effort and resources should be spent on marketing and not chasing reviewers.

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#9

Does anyone have any experience with a PR firm to organize Blog Tour/Release Day Blitz/Reviews, etc? There are a lot of options but I’m not sure how much would be worth it for my debut. A little boost for the release would be nice. I’m just feeling a little overwhelmed trying to prepare for it myself :sweat_smile:
Would love to hear your experiences!

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#10

I, personally, wouldn’t invest that kind of money on an indie debut. I would save your advertising and PR funds until you have at least three books out. Then a new fan could potentially be worth multiple sales. It’s very hard to have a positive ROI with no long tail!

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#11

Hi! I’m commenting as a blogger who does review on Goodreads. Goodreads is full of groups for authors to look for reviewers and most of them that I am a part of are very active. I’m happy to send over some links to the groups if you are interested. I will say that I do get contacted a lot, due to my following over on GR but there’s lots of readers who are always looking for books to review. :slight_smile:

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#12

If you could post a few links here it might be helpful, or perhaps - how to find these groups I have the same issue for my mysteries and I know there are others out there in other genre.
Thanks, this is actually reassuring! :hugs:

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#13

Here you go! :slight_smile:



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#14

Super thank you

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#15

No worries!

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#16

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it. I’m actually releasing second book of the series, but for that I’d need more reviews on first instalments. Now the problem is: Amazon has changed the review policy and bloggers/ readers are unable to post the review unless they have purchased the book. They are doing it for indie authors only, and not for trade published ones, although indie authors solely rely on good reviews.
Here is the GR link of my book

#17

Thank you! This is really helpful!

#18

The only time I’ve ever had amazon reviews was when my work was featured in anthologies.

I’ve also left reviews on there stating I have work published in the anthology and dosen’t effect my opinion on the book and talk praise of the other works in the book and the editors who help put it together.

#19

So a few things come to mind.

  1. NEVER pay for reviews or do “review swaps” (I’ll review your book if you review mine).

  2. Yes, as the sales come, so do the reviews. But there is a chicken and egg situation here. Personally, I wouldn’t buy a book that had no or only a few Amazon / Goodreads reviews.

  3. Yes, there are many blogs who WILL not take accept self-published books, but there are many that specialize in that segment of the market. They are looking for the quality books - so I think it’s worth your time to find and approach them. I think “how” you approach the bloggers will make a big difference in getting them to take a look. Here is what I did when I started out, and I think it is still relevant today. Here are some of the emails I used in the past which may help you develop your own:

  1. I WOULD NOT spend a lot of money on AMS or Facebook ads if you have no reviews. I think before you start doing any “serious marketing” you should have at least 10+ Amazon and 25+ Goodreads reviews.

  2. Goodreads is a great site and you can certainly find groups and people on there who you can give an ARC to in the HOPES (not in EXCHANGE FOR) of a review. I would definitely put some resources into that.

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#20

While we generally agree on most things, I’m going to respectfully disagree here. To spend marketing $s BEFORE reviews is just flushing money down the toilet (IMHO). It’s hard enough to get someone to take interest after seeing an ad, but if they did, and they get to the book’s page and there are none or few reviews, they will not want to be the guinea pig. Personally, until a book has 10+ Amazon and 25+ Goodreads, I would spend $0 in marketing and FOCUS on finding people to do reviews…while not paying or doing swaps, of course. The time-tested approach is to offer a complimentary copy in the HOPES of a review, and I would counsel doing that first.