How To Self-Publish #4 - Reviews Are Gold

Reviews lead to book sales. That is the mantra you should live by. For those who know and love you, their reviews should be (somewhat) easy to come by. Before the book is released to the public it is wise to give copies to close friends and family to serve as your first fans and reviewers. They will be very useful for catching those last minute typos too. I have, however, heard stories from other writers whose families never read what they've written which makes this first step even more difficult (thankfully, my family has, love you guys). Yes, these reviews will be biased as they are coming from a father/son/mother/daughter/sibling/friend/loved-one/other, but please ask your beta readers to be honest about how they felt about your book. An overly glowing review may come off as disingenuous and dissuade a potential reader. Or worse, may seem "fake" and discredit your book altogether.

You don't need all five star reviews. What you do need is trust.

If you are a self-publisher you do not have the credentials of the Big Six Publishers telling everyone who picks up your book: "See here, this is a good book and a proven author. We thought his/her work was good enough and you should too!" We don't have that pat on the back. As such, you need to build trust with your potential readers. Being ranked highly on Amazon's lists will obviously do that, however, start small. Get reviews. Every review tells the reader 1) someone else has already bought your book and must be worth their money 2) they were interested enough (and finished) to review it. These early adopters vet your new book for potential readers down the road and provide valuable insight with a personal point of view. For self-publishers, reviews are gold.

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Here are some of the ways you can go about obtaining reviews, but remember: start small and work your way towards a broader reach. You want to have as many reviews as possible before you make public announcements (ie: to people you don't know) so you can let your rating/review do the selling for you.

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Some ideas:

  • Hand out paperback/digital copies to friends and family
  • Email top reviewers on Amazon/Goodreads in your genre
  • Email bloggers who review books (a nicely drafted email, cover image, free copy of the book are a must for this and the previous)
  • Do a book give-away on Goodreads and LibraryThing
  • Become active on sites like Kindle Boards, AbsoluteWrite, NookBoards, Mobile Read, Smashwords, and others. (Note! Don't just blatantly drop your own book. Become a member of the community and you will find like-minded readers interested in you and what you have to say. When appropriate, mention that you've written a book that aligns with their tastes).
  • Make a thread about your book on Reddit under /selfpublish, /writing, /fiction (or whatever genre you're in).
  • Announce on Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr (this should be one of the last as it will likely be the biggest push that you do)

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If you follow all of these steps and are able to engage a targeted group of readers you will have reviews flowing to your book in no time. This stage will likely start slow, but as you gain a wider readership it will really start to take off as word of mouth develops.  The goal right now is not to sell books, it is to gain trust.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]