Acquiring Book Reviews, Pt. 4

Publicity Tip #72

Courtesy of C. L. Black, Author.

Find What Works For You ~


PhotoPin – Creative Commons

Hi everyone,

When M.J. asked me to write a short post about getting reviews I didn’t know what to say. My first book, Immortal Coil, garnered a very healthy number of reviews (especially for a unknown author’s first book) in a short period of time and I feel that was primarily by luck. I launched the book at the right time and accidentally did the right things and POW! close to 100 reviews within the year.

So I set about writing a complicated email explaining why I wasn’t at all qualified to talk about how to get book reviews. Which, as it turned out, is now (in most part) this blog post.

Here’s what I know: what I did by accident may or may not work now in 2015. I know, not a very helpful answer. I’ve heard it certainly doesn’t work as often in the, “oh look, droves of people are magically reviewing my book and I’ve done next to nothing to make that happen.”

What did I do? I did a promotion and made the book free.

Except that was all I did. I didn’t tell anyone. I don’t use social media to promote, and at the time didn’t even have a new release newsletter. I just had a sexy guy on the cover, the price was free… oh and it was 2012 (I’ve heard that’s important because of how the epublishing industry has changed since then). So right time, right place.

What I did learn is that you need a ton of sales or free downloads to get an “attention grabbing” number of reviews this way. My rate of return was that about 1% of people who downloaded the free book posted a review. I’m told that rate of return is still the same for today’s marketplace.

From what I’ve read, current standard belief for success to get a lot of downloads for a free promotion is to now buy an ad from a place like BookBub, BargainBooksy, or BookGorillia, etc. to advertize that your book is free. I haven’t had an opportunity to try this yet, so I have no proof that it garners more downloads and then gets your book any reviews. And you would have to look at it purely as a marketing investment because a free book won’t earn you any money. (As opposed to say a .99 cent sale where you’d pay for marketing but also have the potential to earn out the ad and make a little extra).

I’ve also heard that offering your book for free to members of your newsletter is a great way to get more reviews. This technique requires you to have a fairly large newsletter since only a fraction of subscribers will open the newsletter and a fraction of those will respond. Again, I haven’t had the opportunity to try this. And I don’t have a large newsletter yet (which opens up the question: how do you build your newsletter and that’s a whole other conversation that I’m still trying to research).

There are also a number of other ways to attempt to get reviews. Some people suggest contacting reviewers directly, either book bloggers or Amazon top reviewers. With finite time, I chose writing more books over doing the research to find and approach reviewers.

I do know you SHOULDN’T buy or fake reviews. That will bite you and turn ugly fast.

So basically, I’ve written a blog post about what worked in 2012 (and I’m still not even sure how it worked.) All I have is speculation on ways to get reviews in today’s competitive marketplace and what works for one author might not work for another.

The best I can say is do your research, read lots of books and articles about what worked for other people, then decide what you’re most comfortable with and give it a try. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

Good luck!

C.I. Black has always lived in a world of imagination. When she’s not daydreaming, she puts her flights of fancy down on paper writing urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense books.

She’s the author of The Dragon Spirit series and The Medusa Files series. You can find a complete list of C.I.’s books here:

Imortal Coil - CIBlack 800-1200 Shattered Spirits - CIBlack 800-1200

You can find her books here:

Amazon ~ Kobo ~ Barnes & Nobel ~ iTunes

Categories: Publicity

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