Obtaining reader reviews on retailer sites is critical for driving book sales. Reviews can lend books legitimacy and help readers decide whether they’re worth their money and time. According to a 2018 survey, 36% of BookBub members say book reviews from other readers can convince them whether or not to buy a book, and we found that including high review counts in our Featured Deal blurbs can increase clicks by an average of 14%. Yet getting reader reviews can be challenging and stressful. Thankfully, we’ve seen a number of tactics used to successfully build up reader reviews.
This guide shares some tried and tested strategies to generate more reader reviews on retailer sites. It will also help you learn what practices to avoid so retailer sites don’t remove them. If you’ve struggled to get reviews or simply need more, check these out!
Ask your mailing list to review books they’ve read
An email newsletter that goes out to an author’s fans is a great place to encourage readers to review books they’ve already read. Simply mention why reviews help you as an author, and how much you appreciate them. To make it as easy as possible for the readers, include links to relevant retailer sites!
Before diving into the fun content of her newsletter, Susan Dennard opened with a short request for fans who read Sightwitch to consider reviewing it. Check out the full email here.
Nonfiction author Ryan Holiday asked readers of Perennial Seller to leave an Amazon review, linking directly to the book’s page on Amazon and explaining that it would be a “big, big help.”
Collette Cameron used her newsletter to invite readers to join her VIP Reader group, “Collette’s Chéris.” A group like this, in which members get exclusive access to free early copies of the book, is a great way for authors to get more reviews as soon as the book is released.
Need help growing your mailing list? Find tips for how newer authors can grow their audiences here.
Ask readers for a review in a book’s back matter
What better time to ask readers for reviews than right after they finish your book? Place requests in the book’s back matter — the pages after the narrative ends — to catch readers just after they finish.
Bestselling fantasy and sci-fi author Daniel Arenson includes at least three CTAs in the back matter of his novels: a link to the sequel, a link to join his mailing list, and a request for reviews. Here, you can see CTAs in the back of his novel Moth.
Mystery author D.W. Ulsterman also includes a CTA in the back matter asking readers to review his books.
I almost always include a reminder at the end of each of my books, which seems to generate a good amount of reviews over time — particularly after a promotion or targeted advertising for specific titles. — D.W. Ulsterman, author of The Writer
Want to learn more about using a book’s back matter to sell more books? Check out our infographic here.
Ask your fans on Social media
Social media pages are another great place to ask your biggest fans to leave reviews. Since the medium allows you and your fans to interact, you can thank them directly.
Brett Battles asks for reviews regularly. In this post he not only explained that reviews are important to him, but also took the time to thank a fan in the comments who said they had reviewed it.
Kiru Taye asked for Facebook fans to review His Treasure.
Post a call for reviews from your street team
Street teams are groups of fans who help promote authors’ books. These are some of authors’ most loyal fans, who have already helped them promote books, so asking them for reader reviews is a no-brainer.
J. Kenner has found tons of success getting reviews from her street team.
I love my Facebook fan group (the J. Kenner Krew); it’s a great way for readers to gather and have interactions with me, talk about the books in my various worlds, and recommend books (by me and other authors) to each other. I’ve found that the readers who participate in groups like that are so giving and generous, and even a passing comment about how reviews at the retailer sites help authors will result in so many group members posting and encouraging others to do the same! — J. Kenner
Run a free deal or make a first-in-series book permafree
Offering a book for free is a great way to get your book in the hands of a large number of readers — and more readers means more potential reviewers! Promoting a free book and asking for reviews in the back matter can be an effective strategy for any author to boost reviews, even if they don’t yet have an established street team or large following.
Bestselling author and book marketing expert Mark Dawson consistently finds success with this strategy.
Making your book free is a tried-and-tested marketing tactic. Apart from plenty of other benefits, it will also get you reviews. Here’s an example: I made one of my books free and backed it with a BookBub Featured Deal that garnered 30,000 downloads. I saw around fifteen reviews in the aftermath of that effort that I believe can be attributed to those downloads. My experience suggests that you’ll usually get a review around every 2,000 downloads. And, if you’re smart, you’ll add those readers to your mailing list by offering them something else, and then you can ask them for reviews when you need them, or add them to your advance reader team. — Mark Dawson
Mark devoted an episode of his Self Publishing Formula podcast to getting more reader reviews— check it out to hear him discuss this and other strategies at length.
Thank your fans for reviews
Thanking fans for reviews is a great way to reward them with recognition and heartfelt appreciation for their support. Plus, thanking fans for reviews is another way to stress the importance of reviews to your readers.
Romance author Helen Hoang enthusiastically thanked her fans for reviewing The Kiss Quotient on her Facebook page.
Author Glynnis Campbell highlights reader reviews in her newsletter. Here, she thanked one particular fan for their five-star review of All Things Merry and Bright.
Offer free Advance Reading Copies or coupon codes
Offering ARCs gets your book into the hands of readers before the book is even out, which can lead to immediate reviews and potentially boost early sales. Plus, a giveaway can help attract and hook new readers. To find good candidates, contact previous readers, top Facebook fans, members of your street team, and mailing list subscribers. Services like Netgalley, Book Funnel, and Edelweiss can help you get early copies to new readers.
J. Kenner regularly sends out ARCs, and finds them to be an effective strategy for getting more reviews.
While I know some authors hesitate to send out early review copies, I’ve had consistently good experiences. And I believe that the strategy of using ARCs to get advance reviews at retailer sites helped push the first Stark book, Release Me, into multi-week, multi-list status despite that book being in a new subgenre and the first book I wrote as “J. Kenner.” — J. Kenner
Rik Stone offered free audiobooks of Birth of an Assassin, and added that reader reviews “would be greatly appreciated.” He emphasized that he was offering the free copies “without obligation.” Obligating fans to review a book in exchange for a free copy can lead to retailer sites removing those reviews.
Keep up-to-date with retailer sites’ rules for reviews to follow best practices
It’s important to pay attention to individual retailers’ reviewer policies to avoid breaking retailer site rules and having reviews removed. For example, authors should not pay or otherwise compensate readers for reviews, nor should they make receiving free copies conditional on a reader actually reviewing the book. Encouraging is fine, compensating is not.
Find Amazon’s policies here, Google Play’s review policy, for Google Books, here, and check out Barnes & Noble’s and Kobo’s basic review policy by clicking to leave a review. Here’s a section of Barnes & Noble’s:
And keep in mind that if you notice a review missing from one of your books, it may not be the result of something you did. A review may be pulled because the reviewer violated a retailer site’s policy, not you.
Which strategies have you found most effective for encouraging readers to review your books? Let us know in the comments below!
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