We all know how important reviews are. The chances of someone 1-clicking a book without any reviews are low. If you want to set up newsletter deals or exchanges they often requires ten, twenty, even fifty book reviews. But how the heck do you get them?
Here are my tips and tricks for trying to find as many reviewers before my book is even published. It’s best to start ASAP.
- Book Bloggers
- Voracious Readers Only
- Hidden Gems & Other Tour Options
- Street Team
Across the web are hundreds and hundreds of book bloggers who are happy to take the time to put down their detailed thoughts on books they’ve both loved and hated. How do you find them?
Here are a couple aggregate lists of known book bloggers to help you get started:
But before you start scrolling through to find people to contact, be prepared.
DO NOT MASS EMAIL THEM ALL! Set aside time, a lot of time, to read through every potential reviewer’s request policy. Many of them will have a warning that they’re not taking reviews at this time and unless you want to get blocked, make sure to follow it.
They will also sometimes have a list of requirements of what you should include in your email or contact form. If they don’t, here’s how I’d format a letter.
Hello (Blog Name or owner),
Introduce myself and state I’m looking for a review of my book. Add the elevator pitch.
Review Date Request: (I’m very flexible about this)
Publisher: (If applicable)
I end with a thanks for their time,
There will be a lot of No’s and flat out ignore emails from the bloggers. They get hundreds of review requests and won’t always have time to respond if they pass on your book. If that bothers you in anyway, then I’d suggest skipping book bloggers. The last thing you want to do is get labeled an author behaving badly.
You’ll also want to send out a LOT of requests. If you want fifty reviews, you’ll have to send out at least 200 requests. Maybe a hundred will ask for your ARC, and half of those will actually post a review.
Like I said, carve out a ton of time for this. I tend to do my blogger requests over two weekends.
Micro-book blogging is huge on Instagram and there is a great option to reach out to reviewers. Again, you’ll have to put in a lot of time scouring through the #Bookstagram hashtag to find bloggers that appeal to you.
When you find one that you think is a good fit, message them on Instagram. You can use the same letter format for the book blogger above.
A video review of your book? It’s not just an impossible dream. There are devoted and awesome reviewers on Youtube under the name Booktube.
Here is a list of Booktubers collected by Reedsy. You can also search for Booktube or Booktuber on Youtube and see if any reviewers strike your fancy. Or this list on Reddit by subscriber count, though it is two years old.
Booksprout.co is a service that will find you reviewers. It is FREE for the first twenty ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) you pass out.
- Automated ARC dispersal
- A Free Level for 20 ARCs (More will cost you)
- Watermarking to curtail pirates
- Controls to make certain only people who leave reviews get the ARC
- Promo emails you can send to your followers
I highly recommend every author sign up and use it for at least the free level. It’s not too difficult to use, it keeps track and will remind the readers to input their review, and you can block anyone who proves to be a problem.
But, beware. There are scammers on Booksprout (where aren’t there scammers?) They will email you and claim they don’t understand how to download books off of Booksprout. Do not under any circumstances send them an ebook, they’re just going to turn around ahd pirate it.
One big perk of Booksprout is that you can set the level so that readers will have to have finished and turned in a review before they can get a new one.
Voracious Readers Only
Looking for a one-time deal to get the first twenty free reviewers to your book? Try Voracious Readers Only.
All you need to do is fill out a form asking for your
- Book Title
- Book Link
- Similar Books or Authors
- And how you want to send the book (more on that later)
If you like the promo, then you can pay $20 a month for more. I used them for Pride & Pancakes and got twenty reviews in a month. Highly recommend checking them out.
Netgalley is the number one ARC Site for readers, which also means they are expensive. A six month listing on Netgalley costs $450. Whew!
But, if your heart is set on using Netgalley to get new reviews, try a Co-Op.
- A much smaller fee
- Media Company will list it for you
- You don’t need to do follow up with non-reviewers
I used Xpresso Book Tours in the past, and had a wonderful experience. They were quick to pass along spreadsheets of who requested my book and who reviewed it when.
Before picking a tour or co-op to use, I suggest searching for them in the list of NetGalley publishers. Check out the numbers for who follows that company. The higher the better, and the more likely for eyes to see your book and pick it.
If you read my Newsletter Advice earlier you already know about Story Origin. For those who are new, the gist is that it’s a place to get newsletter subscribers in exchange for a reader magnet. There are also book promo groups you can join and newsletter swaps. Another option they added a year ago is a reader review program.
With StoryOrigin you can:
- See reviewer’s Amazon, Goodreads, etc. profiles
- Check reviewer’s historical completion rate before approval
- Automated email follow-up with reviewers
- Distribute file via Amazon or StoryOrigin
- Control who gets a review copy (reviewer must be authenticated to download)
This too is FREE and I use StoryOrigin’s review system whenever I want to look for ARC readers on social media. All I have to do is send them a link to the landing page where they can download a sample of the book, then ask to be a reviewer.
Then I can go in and select who should get the full book. StoryOrigin will send a reminder both when you select the “Publishing” option in the menu and two weeks later.
The downside is StoryOrigin doesn’t have the same virtual foot traffic of places like NetGalley or Booksprout. I highly recommend joining a book promo for reviews to get more eyes on your book.
Hidden Gems is another ARC service that will send your ARC to a list of reviewers and see who wants to read it.
- They boast an 80% reviewer rate
- They are often booked months in advance
- Costs a $20 deposit and $3 for every reviewer
- You are required to pay for at least 50 reviewers
I’ve never used HIdden Gems, but I know authors who swear by them.
Kylie’s Fiction Addiction Tours is one I used for Pride & Pancakes. For $60, she sent a link to download my book to people interested for a week. I netted twenty-one reviews in a timely manner and she was wonderful to work with. If you want to try a facebook tour, I recommend giving this one a go.
ARC Street Teams
So you want to do it all yourself, huh?
There are quite a few perks to Street Teams
- You build them so you decide who gets to read your book
- It can cost you nothing
- You know who downloads the book and when
- You have to do all of the work
- It’s on your head to track down non-reviewers
- And to keep an eye on any potential pirates.
Should you have a Street Team? Yes! Should you put all your eggs into this basket? That’s harder to answer, but let’s start with how.
I assume you’re on social media. We’re all on social media, we can’t not be. The first step I’d suggest is building a form on Google Forms or elsewhere.
It asks for:
- If they’re affiliated with a blog
- Blog’s Link
- Are they comfortable using social media
- Where they would post their review
- Do they understand that they are expected to review a book they download and if they don’t they could be removed from the team?
Once you have that form, then it’s time to send it to your followers on Facebook, Twitter, and in your newsletter. (You do have a newsletter, right?) Try to grow your list with your fans and people who will give your book the best start in life.
How to distribute your ARC
You’ve got your Street Team, or have booked a tour with someone who wants you to distribute your book. How do you do it safely and to make certain the right person downloads it?
Here are some of my suggestions:
- With Their Certified Mail You Can
- Send over 500 emails
- See who opens the email and who downloads it
- Set up a reminder to download their ARC
- Put an expiration date
- Set up a final reminder when the book is published for their review
- Downside is you have to send it all in one go
- With the Direct Download Page You Can
- Let anyone who gets the link download when they want
- You can collect email address to see who downloads it
- But you can’t stop the wrong person
- Will also tell you the breakdown of stats by File Type and Device
- Bookfunnel costs $6 a Month to use
- It’s what I use for my Street Team ARCs
- With their Direct Downloads
- It’s super easy to set up
- Anyone with the link can download
- Or you can limit it to people subscribed to your Newsletter
- Great for ARC tours
- I use this for my free stories I send to my subscribers
- Homebound as an example
- With their Direct Download Option
- A little trick to set up
- You have to add your book AND a giveaway
- Limit the number of copies and the date
- Have to pay to get mailing list integration
- No protection on free plan
- Here’s my copy of Homebound on ProlificWorks
I’d highly recommend setting up a spreadsheet to track both your Street Team reviewers as well as any book bloggers. Send them an email when your book is published and maybe a reminder if you don’t see their review in a couple weeks. NOTE: Amazon is twitchy about too many reviews arriving on the first day, so it’s really for the best if your readers take a couple days or a week to add them.
There are a lot of options to get reviews but they all come down to either costing in the hundreds of dollars, or taking up most of your time.
I hope this helped you get some ideas to set out and start gathering reviews. If there’s any avenue I missed, please leave a comment and I’ll look into adding it.