Reader reviews sometimes seem like the ultimate catch-22 of ebook marketing: While you need them to gain credibility and sell your work, getting feedback from readers is difficult to do without selling copies in the first place. However, there are several great ways to generate reviews outside of hitting the bestseller list. In this post, we’ll outline six such strategies that authors and marketers should consider testing.
1. Blog Tours
A blog tour — which is essentially the virtual version of an old fashioned book tour, conducted from the comfort of your own home — can be an effective way to get your title into the hands of avid readers who are willing to offer feedback in the form of reviews. While comprehensive tours can be difficult to execute without help, a number of services exist that will coordinate the promotion in exchange for a fee. These experts are often able to target blogs that focus on certain genres to ensure you’re reaching the most relevant audience for your title.
Blog tours can be used to launch new releases or reinvigorate backlist titles. Bestselling author H.M. Ward, for example, has successfully launched several new books and celebrated a number of major sales milestones through blog promotions.
2. Social Media
Used wisely, social media can help you build up a loyal fan-base and generate reviews in the process. Many websites offer resources for everyone from first-time Facebook users to talented Tweeters looking for more advanced techniques. And there are plenty of authors you can turn to for inspiration, from Hugh Howey’s Twitter account to Bella Andre’s Facebook page to John Green’s Tumblr.
Most successful social media marketers diversify the content they post in order to avoid spamming their followers with exclusively promotional messaging. Some authors say a good rule of thumb is to aim for an 80/20 split between conversational and promotional content. Whatever the mix, your posts should keep your readers engaged, so they’re sure to notice when you launch a new book that’s in need of some reviews.
3. Price Promotions
Discounting your book for a limited time is a great way to expose the title to new readers and generate additional reviews, especially in the case of free promotions. It’s important to promote any discount you run to ensure it reaches a large number of readers in your target audience, maximizing downloads and potential reviews. A number of tools can help you get the word out, ranging from social media to your personal website and blog tours. Services like BookBub can also help, of course!
In fact, free books featured on BookBub typically result in more than 10 times the downloads of non-free promotions, and the vast majority of authors we surveyed reported increased review counts after their deals, with those increases often totaling in the double digits or higher.
4. Book Giveaways
Book giveaways can take various forms and are often run in conjunction with other promotions, such as blog tours, to create a comprehensive and effective new release launch strategy. Offering a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review from the reader can guarantee your title already has some traction when it goes on sale.
Publishers and authors alike run book giveaways regularly. If you’re comfortable giving away many copies of your book, you can try doing a major mailing (or virtual gifting) of advanced editions to your loyal fans. With fewer copies, you can host a giveaway contest on a site like Goodreads, where only a select few readers win, but many enter (and therefore learn about your book). In either case, the recipients of the free copies are asked to review the book in exchange for the giveaway.
5. Email Lists
In today’s marketplace, communicating directly with your fans is crucial. Social media provides one way to do this, and building an email list of your own readers is another. This list will allow you to inform a targeted group of loyal fans about new releases, updates, and any special promotions you’re running (like a blog tour or a price promotion, for example).
Add a signup box to your author website like Brenda Novak and encourage your social media followers to join the mailing list, like David Gaughran does on his blog.
A regular newsletter can help you build a connection and ensure your readers are eagerly awaiting your next release. The list doesn’t have to be huge, but knowing that you have a built-in fanbase that you can ask for reviews is a great way to get the ball rolling on a new title.
6. Back of Book Promotion
When a reader finishes your book, don’t let them put down their e-reader without leaving a review! Each of your books should have links in the back matter. It’s always important to link to your backlist, but also including a simple request for a review and a link to a title’s product page is an easy and effective way to generate feedback. And if you really want to harness the power of your readers, linking to social media and your author website can help drive even more engagement.
While any one of these techniques can be valuable if used effectively, the best promotions combine several different tools over time. So it’s a good idea to test and experiment with different strategies, and to customize your plan for building reviews based on what drives the best results. We hope it goes without saying that this post is not meant to promote the idea of fake reviews; these strategies are intended to help authors build up honest feedback from readers to make their titles more competitive in the marketplace. Of course, an influx of reviews almost never happens overnight, so keep in mind that patience and persistence are key.
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