Author Topic: How do new authors get reviews?  (Read 2836 times)  

Offline yozzrulz

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How do new authors get reviews?
« on: December 31, 2020, 09:32:57 am »
Hi everyone! I'm a new author, but I can't seem to get reviews!

To sell books you need to reviews, but to get reviews you need to sell books! :o

I'm trying out Pubby and Booksprout right now.

I also asked some friends to buy the book and give me an honest review, but the problem is they live in Canada, and I need reviews from the US (Because I need at least 10 reviews (amazon.COM) to be able to opt-in on promo sites).  :-[

Any other suggestions?

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    Online Kathy Dee

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #1 on: December 31, 2020, 09:42:28 am »
    To sell books you need to reviews, but to get reviews you need to sell books! :o

    No, you don't need reviews to get sales; they definitely help to some extent, but you can still get sales if you've got everything else right (blurb, cover, keywords etc).

    Booksprout may help, but the way I did it was to keep offering my books for free until I got all the reviews I needed. Some people will tell you that offering your book for free will attract 1 star reviews, but that again need not be the case. If your book is good, you'll get good reviews.

    Offline jm2019

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #2 on: December 31, 2020, 10:30:51 am »
    Patience, new author :)

    1. Make sure all other elements are in place (cover, blurb)

    2. Do some light advertising, giveaways, etc to get the hands in people's books

    3. In the back-matter of your book, have a page that politely requests people to please leave a review or even a rating

    They will come, slowly. There is no magic to getting legitimate reviews... it's simply a function of (# of copies read x % who leave reviews).

    Offline unkownwriter

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #3 on: December 31, 2020, 11:26:40 am »
    So, assuming the books are something people are interested in, it's mostly a matter of time. Organic reviews seem to be better, but there are legit ways to get reviews, among them:  ARC copies; services that provide readers the opportunity to get the book and encouragement to leave a review.

    Note that requiring a review for a book, free or otherwise, is not allowed. Nor are gifts or any other type of payment. It's not just Amazon's rules, it's Federal law.

    Offline kyokominamino

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #4 on: December 31, 2020, 12:17:08 pm »
    As the other comments have said, there is NO surefire way to secure reviews. There just isn't. It sucks, but it's life. Your best bet (aside from having a page at the beginning and end of your book asking readers to post reviews) is to offer review copies if you find interested parties and then encourage them as much as possible to please leave an honest review. One resource that worked out for me as well was Hidden Gems ARC program. That grabbed me a solid amount of reviews for my sci-fi dragon hunting series within a few months of when I signed up for it back in 2017, but it is a paid service. Keep in mind, you are paying for them to post a book listing to their reviewers--you are not paying for the reviews themselves. Never ever pay someone directly for a review. Good luck!

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    Offline Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #5 on: December 31, 2020, 12:35:09 pm »
    Reviews take time. Don't fret.

    Offline scottdouglas

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #6 on: December 31, 2020, 12:55:41 pm »
    LibraryThing has a giveaway section that will help; in addition to BookSprout, voraciousreadersonly is pretty good. Theres also NetGalley.

    Offline alhawke

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #7 on: December 31, 2020, 02:11:10 pm »
    LibraryThing has a giveaway section that will help; in addition to BookSprout, voraciousreadersonly is pretty good. Theres also NetGalley.

    ^^ agree with all those.

    Even though I use ARCs for every launch, I've probably seen the most reviews return quickly through promoting my book for free; but I do it sparingly. And the catch is you typically have to have reviews to garner a good run in a free promotion.

    So my strategy remains getting reviews by ARCs, by newsletter or the review services, and then reassessing based on other the other factors of your book.


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    Offline alcyone

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #8 on: December 31, 2020, 03:55:01 pm »
    An ARC service is probably going to be the most reliable way to get reviews. Running a free promotion can sometimes garner reviews, but you're also more likely to run into readers who are not your ideal reader and who will review your book accordingly. If you're active on social media, that can be another way to find potential reviewers.

    In terms of importance, I can't speak for others, but I read about 100 books a year (probably purchasing about sixty a year, with the balance KU and an occasional library borrow), and unless a book is by an author I've enjoyed in the past, I wouldn't even sample a book with literally no reviews or ratings on GR or Amazon. I don't need to see a LOT of reviews, but at least 2-3 reviews with a 3+ average is necessary before I'll sample the book.

    Offline Decon

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #9 on: December 31, 2020, 04:31:47 pm »
    Don't get hung up on reviews. Sell books and they will come, so concentrate on marketing and writing your next book


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    Offline J. Tanner

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #10 on: December 31, 2020, 07:57:33 pm »
    To sell books you need to reviews

    Nope. You need good presentation (genre-appropriate cover and blurb), a reasonable price, and traffic to your page. If you get those three things, the sales will come and the reviews will follow.

    Reviews won't help with any of those three things. If they're good, they'll improve the conversion rate of the traffic to your page. That's about it.
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    Offline BuckarooBanzai

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #11 on: January 01, 2021, 03:28:56 am »
    I'll have to chip in here as I think the 'you don't need reviews' thing is slightly disingenuous. Yes, the presentation is vital to your books, but there are literally thousands of books with very similar covers and similar blurbs no matter what genre you write in. If you don't have reviews, the chance of someone taking a chance on you, plucking you from the hundreds of similar works on Amazon is quite minute. I'm yet to find readers who will scan through pages of their favourite genre, see a book without reviews that's been on the market for more than a few months, and take a chance on it. It's like the psychology of people walking past scores of restaurants and invariably going for the one that's busy - however good the decor or menu might be, if a place is empty then they wont step in. And so it will continue

    So, you try a promotion but of course many promo sites wont accept books without at least a few good reviews (Fussy Librarian and ManyBooks were the only ones that helped me here). If you get family, friends or even someone you once spoke to on holiday in Bognor to review it, Amazon's quite incredible omniscience will find out and remove it.

    There is some good advice here, but I don't agree with this thing about not getting hung up on reviews. It's easy to say when you've got quite a few. If a book hasn't got any reviews, but is well presented and is up against a similarly attractive book with 100 reviews with even a relatively low rating of 3.5, the latter will destroy the former. This is why authors starting out - quite naturally - worry about reviews.

    Offline Gareth K Pengelly

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #12 on: January 01, 2021, 05:34:57 am »
    I'll have to chip in here as I think the 'you don't need reviews' thing is slightly disingenuous. Yes, the presentation is vital to your books, but there are literally thousands of books with very similar covers and similar blurbs no matter what genre you write in. If you don't have reviews, the chance of someone taking a chance on you, plucking you from the hundreds of similar works on Amazon is quite minute. I'm yet to find readers who will scan through pages of their favourite genre, see a book without reviews that's been on the market for more than a few months, and take a chance on it. It's like the psychology of people walking past scores of restaurants and invariably going for the one that's busy - however good the decor or menu might be, if a place is empty then they wont step in. And so it will continue

    So, you try a promotion but of course many promo sites wont accept books without at least a few good reviews (Fussy Librarian and ManyBooks were the only ones that helped me here). If you get family, friends or even someone you once spoke to on holiday in Bognor to review it, Amazon's quite incredible omniscience will find out and remove it.

    There is some good advice here, but I don't agree with this thing about not getting hung up on reviews. It's easy to say when you've got quite a few. If a book hasn't got any reviews, but is well presented and is up against a similarly attractive book with 100 reviews with even a relatively low rating of 3.5, the latter will destroy the former. This is why authors starting out - quite naturally - worry about reviews.

    I read Bognor as Bangor for a sec, and was like 'can sheep actually leave reviews?'

    As for reviews being important, yes, I think they are. But like you say, they only help with that last little 'push' of an indecisive buyer. Once you have a few reviews, gaining more and more doesn't do much, I think, except to show that you've sold a few copies and make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, lol.

    I stand to be corrected, but I doubt there's much of a measurable difference in terms of how likely someone is to buy your book based on whether it has a hundred reviews or a thousand reviews.

    Offline BuckarooBanzai

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #13 on: January 01, 2021, 06:03:54 am »
    Definitely agree with that last statement, but it's getting to even 100 that is the kicker. Even getting that first one is tough. Once you have past about seventy, the panic subsides and you can start letting it happen organically.

    Offline alhawke

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #14 on: January 01, 2021, 08:57:06 am »
    Whether you need reviews and how many depend on the status of your book. For example, if it's your first book and no one knows who you are, then you need reviews for sales--because no reader knows who you are. But the quality of the reviews are important; as is the cover, the blurb, the subject, and the writing. If you are writing a series or are Stephen King (the King launched a recent book with 3 reviews, now 2000 after a couple months), reviews are not as important.

    Case in point: I just wrapped up a big promotion for my new launch. I was very lucky to end up with positive ARCs that were written by reviewers who are top 1000 reviewers or Vine. So they had the badge beside their review. But I only had 3 reviews. But the book was the third book in a series with >25 reviews per prior book. I got the promotions I needed because of my success with the prior books and am happy with my new launch. But here's an instance where only 3 reviews landed me in the top 3 of Hot New Releases. I mention all this because I was sweating over my lack of reviews going into my launch and wasn't sure how it'd turn out. I used to think I had to reach readers earlier and get >10 reviews for a successful launch. Not so.

    I also launched another book a year ago with only 4 reviews. Not as successful a launch as my recent one, but still respectable sales by promo sites like ENT (I posted the thread with my results last year). I've also landed a BookBub with only 3 reviews on another book.

    I think reviews are necessary and the OP should desire them, but there's a zillion factors here. It's one factor, an important one, over many social proof marketing things for your novel.

    OP, my advice is for you to try the services for honest reviews mentioned above OR patiently wait (I'm personally too impatient, so I get ARCs). Once you have a set of good reviews, try a free run to get even more. Don't ask friends/family for reviews--not only is it against Amazon's rules but readers are smart.

    (Hope I didn't get carried away this time with this post. I had a lot of coffee this am. Happy New Year, Kboards!)


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    Offline TeiranSmith

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #15 on: January 07, 2021, 05:15:06 am »
    There are ARC services that help with this. They don't "require" the reader to review so much as they "ask" and "encourage" reviews. The majority of readers who sign up realize a review is appreciated and understand what they are signing up for. As such, 75% of readers end up writing reviews. Many authors use them with great results. Look into BookSirens or Booksprout. BookSirens charges a small fee per review. Booksprout is a free service, and they also offer a paid service for added functionality.

    Also, start a newsletter! You can build an ARC team from your readers who already love you work. So when you have a new release, you can send them ARC's! I've done this and it works beautifully!

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    Offline Trioxin 245

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #16 on: January 07, 2021, 07:00:26 am »
    Don't ask friends to buy and leave a review. It never works out. Either they do not leave a review or when they do it sounds forced and unrealistic. "I thought Stephen King was the master of horror until I read this." Plus you will mess up your also boughts, which will mess up the algorithms and can cause major problems. Don't do it.


    Offline Flying Pizza Pie

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #17 on: January 07, 2021, 10:23:16 am »
    First, OP, thanks for the reminder. I just went and reviewed my last five purchases at Amazon!

    Second, there was a poll I read somewhere (I'm looking, I'm looking) that rated the top five things that people did prior to buying a book at Nook or Amazon. IIRC the first was put in a generic description, then came a view of all the covers shown on the pages. The third was the title and price.

    On Amazon, the title and price are right above the total stars. People didn't mention how many reviews, only the price, and stars. Name recognition was in there somewhere, not sure where. So they went through those steps before ever clicking on a book.

    Then, they did one of three things (or two, or three) - they read the blurb and "Look Inside" and a review or two.

    What's my point? Like everyone else has said, you must get them to click on your book cover and get them to the actual sales page FIRST.  So, IMHO - spend money on your blurb and cover, not reviews. You'll get something like one revieiw for every 100 sales. Not much you can do about that except sell more copies by getting people to search for your book (paid advertising, emails to subscribers, newsletters) and click on a link or that awesome cover.


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    Online Kathy Dee

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #18 on: January 09, 2021, 09:25:50 pm »
    I'll have to chip in here as I think the 'you don't need reviews' thing is slightly disingenuous.

    I have one particular book with the lowest star rating of all my books which is one of my best selling titles.

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #19 on: January 10, 2021, 02:22:48 am »
    Reviews aren't everything. Wait until you get zinged by a one star, whether justified or not (and when they complain about the genre instead of the book contents, they're not).

    I don't know about the other retailers, but the Zon has a star rating system, which more readers seem to use, and your books may have ratings without reviews, which can still help potential readers purchase your books (providing they're not all one stars, of course).

    Offline catslover

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #20 on: January 10, 2021, 05:40:35 am »
    In relation to this question, can anyone at Amazon write a review? or only those who bought the book ??

    Offline DmGuay

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #21 on: January 10, 2021, 05:50:16 am »
    In relation to this question, can anyone at Amazon write a review? or only those who bought the book ??

    Anyone who has met certain criteria can leave an Amazon review. It used to be that folks had to have purchased $50 worth of (any) items on Amazon in order to leave a review, but I don't know if that's still the case.

    They do not have to buy your book via Amazon to review it. Those who do have a "Verified Purchase" tag.

    But yes. Do not fall down the rabbit hole of "If only I had <insert number> reviews, my book would sell." No. Sales lead to reviews, not the other way around. It's always better to focus on boosting sales than to focus on getting more reviews.
     
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    Offline MalcolmJWardlaw

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #22 on: January 11, 2021, 12:18:58 am »
    If your starting from Ground Zero, then reviews will take time.

    It does make a difference to have some reviews over having none at all.

    I'm sceptical of buying reviews or using sites like Booksprout as I don't think the quality of reviews is very high. Prospective readers are more likely to be impressed by long reviews, as that shows the reader was really captivated.

    You could try a Freebooksy. Its clientele includes people who will take a punt on an unknown author if the presentation is decent. I got a favourable review by a book blogger and picked up a lot of KU activity from that.

    Nowadays reviews don't just happen. You need to keep taking action through free promotions, at least to begin with. After you get some good, long reviews on the first book, a combination of advertising and free promos on the first book should get you some paid sales off the later books.

    I found Voracious Readers to be a good service (and it's free). If you take the option to distribute the book copies yourself, then you get the email addresses of the people who requested the book. In this way, you can get a dialogue going with your first fans. This is extremely important as you'll get valuable feedback from them as well as moral support.

    I wouldn't bother with promos of even $0.99 books as it's a waste of time at the beginning, in my experience.

    Getting started is nowadays very, very hard. Unfortunately most of the gurus have been in the business for a decade and IMHO they are out of touch with the realities of getting started in today's market. Be experimental, over time you'll evolve methods that work.






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    Offline EleanorRigby

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #23 on: January 11, 2021, 07:57:50 am »
    Patience seems to be the right approach. I published in September and have 12, which I'm quite happy with, they're all genuine customers and not people I know. I also haven't paid for any. It's not a huge amount but to be honest I expected less at this point.

    Offline catslover

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    Re: How do new authors get reviews?
    « Reply #24 on: January 11, 2021, 02:40:07 pm »
    I must say that reviews are more likely to be much more important for "guide" type books, scientific books, or DIY books (non-fiction books).

    For fiction, consumers are probably more encouraged to buy a fiction book that does not have reviews.

    At least that's how it works for me

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