Hello fellow authors 🙂
What this is: Basically, I’m signing up for multiple review-seeking services and telling you what worked and what didn’t work. I’ve listed all the sites and prices in this post.
So, as every author-blog across the board will tell you, reviews are huge in the success of a book. It gets you in with Bookbub and other book-making promotional services, ultimately, it can make or break your book. But, we already know this, right?
I’m an author blog-reading junkie, mostly wanting to know about other author’s journeys and what they did right or wrong. But, when seeking information on how to get more reviews, more often than not, unfortunately, we’re told: make sure your book is edited and that you have a great blurb and cover. And, while great advice and important just to get your foot into the door, that’s all it does. The truth is: there are just too many great, well-edited books out there with awesome covers and fantastic blurbs–we’re swimming in a sea of awesome, and it’s hard to float to the top.
So, I’m not going to give you any advice on the production of your book, let’s just assume all of our books are badass.
Sending Books out for Review
So, I’m trying as many review-seeking services as possible (that don’t cost an arm and a leg–or any of my appendages, hopefully). If you’re like me, your book marketing budget is limited, and you want to get as much bang for your buck. I (almost) never pay over $50 for anything that doesn’t have proven results–as in Bookbub, where the data is abundant. (Usually, I’ll actually market months before a book comes out as this has produced the best results, but in this experiment’s case, the book already came out.)
For ‘Part One’ of this experiment, I’m just going to tell you about all the review-seeking venues I chose and why I chose them, along with their price. One month from now, I’ll post Part Two with preliminary results, and then I’ll post Part Three with final conclusions.
First, the basics: How to Make Review Copies for Free
- To make review copies, convert your word file to html at this website: Convert document online after your file has downloaded, I suggest deleting it from their database. They only keep it on there for something like 24 hours, but best to be safe.
- Then download a program called Calibre for free. You can use it to make high-quality ebooks on your computer in all formats. After you open the program, you ‘Add book’ where you add your html file, then ‘edit book’ where you can upload a cover and edit the information, making all formats of your book.
The Honest Review-Seeking Sites I found, and the Pros and Cons of Each
FREE Places to Seek Reviewers
LibraryThing Member Giveaways
Intro: If you don’t know what LibraryThing is, it’s a review site similar to GoodReads. It’s free to sign up but as I remember, you need to jump through a hoop or two (it’s worth it!). You can host a giveaway for 100 ebooks at a time or limitless print books.
- As I said, it’s totally free. As in, you can do the whole thing 100% no cost and get reviews.
- You connect with reviewers directly, and often they will send you follow up emails thanking you for the book if they loved it and asking to Read 2 Review more of your books.
- It’s A LOT of work. Say over 100 people enter into your giveaway, that means you need to connect with 100 separate people to send them review copies. (usually it’s more like 30-60 people who enter for e-books, though I once had 120 enter).
- The readers are asked to review, but they make no promise to. Often people sign up on a whim and have very little interest. I’d say about 10% of people actually review (and sometimes harshly). But still, that’s 10 reviews! Good stuff for free (and a lot of work).
Goodreads R2R Groups
Some good R2R groups (but there’s a lot more too, just look for them):
- Again, FREE! Few things in this world actually produce results for free, but luckily this is one of those rare few.
- People only apply if they genuinely want to read and review (it’s no guarantee that they will, but they at least intend to when they sign up).
- Again, you have a personal connection to your readers where they feel comfortable asking to Read 2 Review more of your books if they liked the first.
- Moderate amount of work. I’d recommend posting on multiple groups and that takes time.
- Less reviewers sign up. Usually it’s only a couple on each thread, but sometimes you can get 10 + people interested. Sometimes you get none (which is why I recommend posting on multiple groups).
Querying Bloggers Directly
Link: Book Blogger Directory
- When it’s successful, it’s amazing. My books have been reviewed on Parajunkie and several other top notch review sites from doing this.
- Again, FREE! Except for that you might be asked to provide some giveaway material (hint, hint, do it).
- If the reviewer loves your book, they’ll likely be happy to review again on their big blog.
- This is the most work of them all. I’m talking days and days and days. You need to read each reviewer’s submission guidelines and it’s a good idea to read through several of their reviews to know their preferences (making sure you’re not setting yourself up for a 1-star review from a very respected source!).
- You get rejected a lot! Or, at least I have been for several of my previous books, your books might be different.
- I want to say this again: it’s A LOT of work, and sometimes you’re rejected by pretty much everyone.
PAID Places to Seek Reviewers
These are my two favorite co-ops so far:
Pikko’s House NetGalley Co-op Price: $35/month Why I like this one: The price. Everything is set up for you.
Victory Editing NetGalley Co-op Price: $40/month Why I like this one: You can go into your listing and see how many books people have downloaded and add reviews to your book’s page yourself.
- There is a HUGE built in readership of bloggers, Librarians and retail-site reviewers who will see and consider your book.
- If they chose your book and don’t review it, their ratings will go down on NetGalley and big publishers will be less likely to give them access to big ARC titles (I’m a NetGalley reviewer, I understand this predicament and pressure). This is actually an advantage and disadvantage, I’ll discuss the downside later. But the upside is they’re more likely to send some sort of feedback–likely a review.
- The movers and shakers in the book world are paying attention here, and there’s a chance (however slim) that your book will attract that attention.
- This is where I talk about obligatory reviewing, and the downsides of that. If the reader doesn’t like your book, instead of dropping it at chapter 4 — and never thinking about it again, they feel an obligation to review. This makes for a lot more negative DNF reviews or ‘I finished this, I don’t know why I put myself through this’ reviews–which obviously sucks on both ends (but it’s part of this whole honest review business). Maybe your book won’t get these, but I always brace for a few if there’s a big influx of reviews coming from NetGalley. Though, take heart, there are excited glowing reviews too! I try to take the good with the bad 🙂
Book Tour ‘Review Queries’
The services I’m using:
Xpresso Book Tours Review Query Price $50
Lola’s Book Tours Review Opportunity Price $60
YA Bound Book Tours Review Query Price $30
- So this is basically like querying bloggers, except it’s from a source they know and trust and they select the book they’re interested in. The book tour hosts will email their huge list of bloggers + put your book’s listing on their social media.
- It takes very little work, they do it all for you.
- It’s the same services as the big publishers are using, and you’re treated just the same as them.
- It costs money for something that you could potentially do yourself (though there are advantages–such as legitimacy–that you may not be able to achieve on your own. As far as I’m concerned, I’d much rather go with a respected Review Query than spend days and days working my butt off–and potentially barking up the wrong trees, but that’s just me.)
- There’s no guarantee that you’ll get reviewed, not that there is a guarantee with any service. But, there’s a possibility you might be paying to get nothing or very little–I seriously doubt this is the case, I guess only time will tell. I’ll tell you in Part Two 😉 😉
Link: StoryCartel Price: $25 to list your book
(If you want to check out what a listing looks like, here’s the link to my book on there: Making Bad Choices)
This one is new to me, and I’m really just testing the waters with it. It’s a site kind of like NetGalley, only they have no vetting process, everyone can join.
- It’s super user friendly and very little work to set up.
- Every person who downloads your book checks off that they agree to write an honest review.
- There are pretty neat prize incentives, if people review your book they get points in a monthly drawing that gives away kindle e-readers and gift cards and stuff.
- Unless you pay $100 extra dollars (which I’m not going to do), they won’t advertise for you whatsoever. You’re listed on their page but I don’t get the feeling that they have close to the page-view traffic as many of the other review-seeking sites I mentioned above.
- They basically say that it’s up to you to drive traffic to your listing, which is what it is.
***Update 1/27/19: I’m on Story Cartel’s mailing list, and they included my book on their newsletter without me paying anything.***
So obviously a lot of factors may affect the success of my book that won’t affect yours, as in genre, blurb, cover and intended audience. Also, I’m not going to be paying for huge amounts of additional advertising to drive up any of these services. A little social media, but that’s mostly it. Also, I’m giving you only the Amazon Reviews that were produced directly from one of the services above (they have to note it in their review for me to know, which most will), the number and star-rating, because Goodreads is too hard to track. The book I’m using for this ‘Reviews Experiment’ is Making Bad Choices
Genre: New Adult Romance
Amazon Reviews that Came Directly from a Review Seeking Source Listed Above (not much yet):
One – 5-star review