Guest Post: By the uber talented Alinka Rutkowska of the aptly named website AlinkaRutkowska.com
What do you do on launch day?
I watch my reviews flooding in. Of course, it doesn’t just miraculously happen, but after having published over 20 books I have now devised a fool-proof recipe any author can (and should) follow.
First things first, let's establish credibility.
The first time I scored 100+ reviews was for my 16th children’s book Cinderella’s Secret Slipper.
It has been one of the highlights of my children’s book publishing career. I started on a smaller scale, aiming first for 20 reviews, then for 50 and slowly aiming for 100 for this book. It took me a couple years to get there.
So yes, good old hard work pays off.
But what if you have no following and you’re about to publish your first book?
In this article you will learn:
- How to create your book launch timeline.
- 10 places to scout for reviews.
- Where not to go in search of reviews.
- How to incentivize your reviewers.
- The technology behind it all.
- How you can deepen your knowledge.
Getting 100+ reviews isn't a waiting game, and requires strategy as well and defined planning. Therefore, to do this right, we'll need to start with a broad overview of the steps, move into the all important ways to get reviews and build lasting connections, the do's and don'ts, and finally end with tools and aids for increasing your results.
The Overview: Creating your book launch timeline
The Simple Math to Getting Reviews
If you’re aiming for 100 reviews on launch day, you need around 300 people who will commit to reviewing your book on launch day. I learned it the hard way that only about 1 in 3 people who say they will review your book, will follow through.
In order to get 300 people on your launch team, you need to contact at least 900, but probably more. Many reviewers will ignore you or respond unfavorably.
So, as you see, it’s a numbers game. Our goal will be to establish methods and means in which to get you 30 contacts a day for one month. Simple math 😉
Build Hype: What to say
Once you have a team of your reviewers, you will want to regularly communicate with them.
- Get them excited about the launch.
- Countdown to launch day.
- Give them updates on your promotional strategies.
For many, your launch might be the first they’re on and they will most likely be exhilarated to be in such direct contact with the author.
Increase Review Conversions: How to say it
Through years of practice I have developed templates that really work but here’s the gist of it:
- Make sure to address the reviewer by name.
- Send a personal email. Don’t throw your reviewers on a mailing list if they did not subscribe.
- Tell them what similar book they have already reviewed and why they should like yours.
- Mention any honors your book has received.
- Give your reviewers a deadline.
- Be polite and professional.
10 places to scout for reviews
You do want a few editorial reviews to get things started. Even before you ask your first reviewer for their review, you want to present your book in the best possible light. Here a couple to help:
Another trick with these is to highlight a good review on your Amazon Author page or in the Editorial Review section of your Amazon sales page.
These can be very helpful but they need to be planned well and in advance. You can either go the “do-it-yourself” route and contact bloggers one by one – but it will be very time-consuming, or you can use the services of a company which specializes in this. This could be a really good strategy to create buzz for your book, especially if you’re just starting out.
If you choose to do a blog tour yourself, Dave's got a great article on author guest posting and how to find the right blog for your market.
Networking with the big guys in your field
There is nothing more powerful then connecting with top people in the field, niche or genre and getting their stamp of approval for your book. They can help in many ways such as:
- Creating a highly converting testimonial
- Using their platform or email list to promote your book
- Simply leaving a review – one down 99 to go!
However, this tactic is best done early. It would be great if you could read, follow and comment on blogs which you’d like to have your book featured on. When the blogger recognizes you from your activity, they will be much more likely to feature your book.
Also, don't start with a “Hi, nice to meet you, will you support my blog.” Here's a great article with top influencers giving you the do's and don'ts to networking. You might recognize a name or two in there.
Amazon Top Reviewers
Believe it or not, but there is a whole subculture of reviewers who are fighting for the best spots on the reviewers’ leaderboards. No, really, there are.
These weekend warriors of Amazon reviews look for opportunities to keep up their ranks by writing well thought out reviews to boost numbers.
The key is to find the ones who have reviewed books in your niche or genre. You'll get a better conversion rate if you do.
Certain Amazon reviewers choose to allow their email address or website to be shown in their review account. Therefore, you can go to books in your niche, and check to see if anyone who left a review allows for their email address to be shown.
The idea is that once you've collected the emails of all of these reviewers, you would contact them and ask if they would like to review your book as well – usually by giving a free copy. To learn more about how to do that, then check out the Kindlepreneur article on exactly that.
However, that process can be tedious. Good thing there is software out that that will do all of that for you like Book Review Targeter.
The most low-cost way, or rather the absolutely free way to look for reviewers is to ask your readers to review your title at the end of your book.
Make it funny or profound but make sure readers understand the impact they have when they review your work.
If you setup your book for Kindle Select, then you can get a period of time where your book is free. When the book is free, make sure to get it out to as many people as possible. To do this, there are a lot of book promotion sites that will do all of that for free. Just take the time and set it up or contract someone to do that for you.
Although the conversion rate of those that actually read the book and leave a review is small, it's still a viable source of reviews and costs little to nothing. You can also beef up the number of reviews and downloads by using specialized paid book promotion sites.
You can't pay (or even incentive) someone to leave you a review — that violates Amazon's rules. But you can pay to promote your book to readers who are likely to leave reviews.
Self-Publishing Review is a good example of a service that sells email list promotions with the goal of bringing in more sales and new unbiased reviews. Save 5% on anything from their site with the code KINDLEPRENEUR5.
LibraryThing’s Member Giveaway is a great place to attract reviewers. You can give away a digital version of your book to as many as 100 reviewers and you get their email addresses!Book Review Math: If you contact 900 people, 300 will commit but only 100 will leave a review!Click To Tweet
The most passionate readers and reviewers hang on Goodreads. I built more than half of my launch team here.
You can give away your book (physical copy only) and I bet you will be delighted by the sheer number of people requesting to receive it.
Goodreads is a place to form connections and nourish them. It’s where you will find your most passionate readers and die-hard fans. The challenge is to navigate it.
Podcast Episode – Learn More About Getting Book Reviews
Where not to go in search of reviews
My inbox is flooded by individuals and organizations promising to get me reviews or reviewers for a fee. While you may be receiving a legitimate offer, my first impulse is to say “no”.
Paying someone for doing the dirty work may be tempting, especially if you have no idea how to get those reviews, but it’s much wiser to learn the “how” and get someone to do the work for you. That’s where Virtual Assistants come in handy.
How to incentivize your reviewers
What you can and can’t do
You can’t pay anyone to review your book. Amazon clearly says:
“We do not permit reviews or votes on the helpfulness of reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind, including payment (whether in the form of money or gift certificates), bonus content, entry to a contest or sweepstakes, discounts on future purchases, extra product, or other gifts.
The sole exception to this rule is when a free or discounted copy of a physical product is provided to a customer up front. In this case, if you offer a free or discounted product in exchange for a review, you must clearly state that you welcome both positive and negative feedback. If you receive a free or discounted product in exchange for your review, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact.”
But you can have reviewers enter a drawing if it’s open to non-reviewers as well.
What works when trying to incentivize
- Paperback copies of your book
- Signed copies of your book
- A set of books by different authors in your genre
- An Amazon gift card – easy to deliver
- Numerous smaller value Amazon gift card
- Something that pertains to your book or genre
Let's dig a little more into that last point. Imagine that you're writing a fantasy book with a female target demographic. Don't you think a John Snow bobble head would get your target fans to click and sign up?
What doesn’t work
You might be surprised when you hear me say that big value prizes like iPads or kindles don’t really do the trick.
You will get a large number of people who will leave a review only because they want the shiny gadget and then they will unsubscribe from your mailing list altogether.
You want to reward your reviewers by a larger number of smaller prizes. I usually have one big prize which is a $100 gift card and numerous smaller prizes ranging between smaller value gift cards and books.
Kevin Kruse has a GREAT article about this after having learned this lesson the hard way.
The technology behind it all
Email marketing provider
Ideally, you want to get your reviewers on a mailing list, so that you can send them bulk messages. This means that you need to sign up for an account with MailChimp, AWeber, GetResponse or another service you like.
The first thing I do when I reach out to potential reviewers is direct them to a landing page (see below) so that they sign up themselves and get on my list.
Never sign up people manually even if you have their email address. You will end up with a non-responsive list in the best case and a stack of complaints in the worst.
A landing page is a fancy name for a little page whose only reason for existence is to get your readers on your mailing list (see above). It will usually just consist of a box where people give away their name and email address.
This is where you entice your new reviewers to sign up in order to get a free review copy. As soon as they subscribe they get an email with a link to the book.
If you’ve already received some positive reviews, add them to your landing page in order to entice your reviewers to sign up. This is how one of my landing pages looks like: http://alinkarutkowska.com/80k-free/
Feel free to emulate it!
There remains the matter of what and how to write to your reviewers. As long as you stick to the “what to say” and “how to say it” guidelines at the beginning of this article, you won’t get into any trouble.
How you can deepen your knowledge
I have become quite the expert on getting reviews now. And I want you to become an expert too. So here are the next steps.
I’d like you to go grab a copy of my best-selling title “How I Sold 80,000 Books” which you will find here: http://alinkarutkowska.com/80k-free/.
It’s a paid book anywhere else.
When you click through, I’d like you to observe what happens. Take a good look at the landing page and at what happens after you’ve signed up.
This is something you can easily emulate for your own book and have a steady stream of reviews flowing in.
To your success!
About The Authors: Alinka Rutkowska is a multi-award-winning and #1 international best-selling author and coach. She is the CEO of LibraryBub, which connects indie authors with libraries. She's been featured on Fox Business Network, Author Marketing Club, The Author Hangout, Examiner, She Knows, She Writes, The Writer's Life and many more.
Connect with Alinka by going to Alinkarutkowska.com and downloading her best-selling title “How I Sold 80,000 Books” for free!