Q06: Reviews

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Self-Published Authors. For the remaining questions, see here.)

How did you go about getting reviews, early or otherwise, for your work?

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I did some research and sent ARCs to bloggers who repped my genre as well as my blogger friends I’ve made through social networking over the years. It was a great experience, and I absolutely value every single reviewer.

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With my first book, I spent a LOT of time combing review sites and sending requests to individual reviewers. After that, I kept a list of the ones who responded favorably and ended up leaving a review. You also start to form relationships with bloggers who are respected and/or enjoy your work.

I also recently put together a street team, which has been awesome as far as early readers and early posting of reviews.

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I sent out eARCs to a few people I knew and trusted to be completely honest in their reviews.

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I spent days combing through book bloggers who accepted self-published books and making a spreadsheet including their follower count, average comment number, page views, and submission policies. Then I sent a LOT of cold emails.

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I try to have ARCs ready a month ahead of release, and I contact bloggers I’ve worked with before. Some sign up for the tour and we give them ARCs to review. Also, I’m offering ARCs to my street team in exchange for reviews.

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This is another thing I wish I did earlier – seek ARC reviews. For reviews this time, I just asked readers to leave a review if they felt like it.

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I asked a wide group of friends if they wanted ARCs of my book then provided the review copy 8 weeks in advance. They all stated in their reviews that they received ARCs and knew me. I also did an ARC giveaway ahead of time and provided free review copies via Goodreads groups. I would say that 20% of ARC readers posted a review before the book was available. Others have been trickling in since then. I also asked for my book to be added to a Goodreads book club calendar, and it has been. I will provide 20 copies of the book for readers to read and review it. This is forthcoming.

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I emailed a few romance bloggers asking them to review, and also approached anyone who expressed early interest on Goodreads.

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I went about it a couple ways.  The World Literary Cafe has a list of bloggers looking for books to review, so I went on their list and found two book blogs willing to review my first book.  Then I went on Google and literally typed “Romance Book Review Blogs” into the search.  That gave me quite a list.

After that, I started sending out query emails.  I didn’t get a response from a lot of them, and some of them wouldn’t review self-published books (whatevs).  But I did hear back from enough people to make it all worthwhile.  I went to these same blogs again when my second book came out, attaching an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) to my email, so they’ve been reviewing that book as well.

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I emailed book bloggers directly, asked my street team to review, and my blog tour organizers helped pull reviewers together as well.

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What I usually do is pick a few “comparable” titles to mine and then see who reviewed them via Google searches. My review request emails look a lot like a query, with an intro, the blurb, maybe a quote from an author, and a closing. I also include an excerpt beneath my signature so they can check out my voice before requesting. This works best for me because my books are so niche. Targeting the “big” reviewers and also using NetGalley are also fine plans, but I think they work better for more mainstream books than mine. Once you have a few books out, you have a set of bloggers who like your work that you can go to.

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Begged, mostly. LOL. Sort of kidding. The nature of my series makes it a tough sell, so there was some convincing involved when it came to getting reviews. I found that once I got my foot in the door and opened a dialogue with individual reviewers, they were far more likely to check out my book. It’s all about personal connection. Getting to know folks and being interested in what THEY have to say does far more than spamming every reviewer on the planet with a blanket campaign of READ MY BOOK!

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