Do Reviews Even Matter?

Featured Article by Riley Amos Westbrook

How important are reviews? Do they make a difference on whether or not you sell? And what's the best way to collect them? One thing I will tell you, NEVER pay for a review. It's against Amazon's TOC, and really all you're doing is cheating your readers.

Today we'll cover the ways I used to collect reviews for an ARC copy of Everyone Dies At The End, and maybe you'll find what I do useful.

Step 1. Set a goal.
Set a number of reviews you'd like to hit. I used 100, just because it sounded like a good round number in my ears.

Step 2. Find reviewers interested in your genre and write them a PERSONAL email.
There are a lot of ways to go about this. From a simple Google search, to scouring a list of reviewers that accept independent books. This will be the most time consuming aspect, especially if you keep it personal.

I find a personal touch is much more likely to garner you a positive response than a canned one. It also lets the reviewers know you're more than willing to talk to them about your book if they would like.

Things to include in your request:

Blurb, Cover, Word count, Page count, and last but most importantly, GET THEIR NAME CORRECT! You'd be surprised how many people mess up the name, and I guarantee you they will delete your email if you can't get their name correct.

Step 3. Exercise Patience.
This is the hardest step. I know, you want to pester them, ask if they've had a chance to get to your book yet. I'm here to tell you, Don't!

I know when an author contacts me and asks for a review, I've agreed to read their book. I don't want authors bugging me to see if I've started it. It irks me, and is likely to get your book moved to the bottom of my TBR list, if not removed completely.

Bugging a reviewer is a great way to get on their bad side.

Sometimes you'll send out books and a reviewer will tell you they will review the book, but they can't. Children, work, life gets in the way. Understand just because you send a reviewer a book, you're not guaranteed a review. Still, Don't Pester Them! A soft poke several months later can help garner some of those reviews, but it can also lead you to a heap of trouble.

Step 4. Get your review!
Yay! You got your review! Was it less than what you wanted star wise? Well, suck it up buttercup. You did write asking for a review, and one thing reviewers are great at is giving their honest opinions. Arguing with them isn't going to change it. Trying to explain an important plot line, still probably not going to change it. Don't argue with the person who read your book, they are allowed to have their own opinions!

There are a lot of places to collect reviews, and the ones I use require you to do a lot of work. I've included a short list of the sites I use to garner my reviews.

http://www.tweetyourbooks.com/#!free-reviews/c1yij
A listing of reviewers. They aren't separated or anything, you need to sort through them and find ones compatible with your genre.

https://bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com/
Sorted by genre, a little easier to navigate.

http://www.amazon.com/Book-Reviewer-Yellow-Pages-Publishers-ebook/dp/B00X5YTXQ0
Keep an eye on this one, I picked it up free on Amazon and it helped a lot. Chock full of reviewers eager to read your book.

Goodreads
This one is a bit tougher. Once you've started to establish yourself in the community, I advise you to search out groups specific to your genre. For Everyone Dies At The End, I kept it simple. I looked for boards related to Zombies and Horror stories, and posted an ad stating I would give a free copy for reviews. I've gained about half of my reviews this way, but it takes time! You need to generate interest, or people will just scroll by your post.

I hope the things I've listed help you on your journey, and garner you a few more reviews. It's a lot of work, and it's no guarantee of success. After all, reviews do not necessarily mean sales, but I'm a firm believer that they can't hurt. Besides, they can be a blessing and a boon when it comes to promotion.