You probably don’t have to be convinced of the importance of getting free book reviews as well as Kindle reviews.
However, how does a new author get those crucial Kindle book reviews or editorial reviews that will help to drive up sales?
Most resources rely on tactics that require already existing fan base, elaborate platforms, and major connections.
That’s all fine and dandy…if you have those resources at your disposal or are willing to trade in your friendship for a favor.
But what about the rest of us?
The ones who don’t have raving fans ready to drop reviews on request. Or those of us without a giant email list, social media following, and oodles of friends that we ‘want’ to send our books to?
Despair not my friends, because in this guide on how to get book reviews, I’ll show you how you can legally, and legitimately get those reviews, even if you’re a brand new author.
In This Article I Will Show You:
- A proven step-by-step method on how to get your book reviewed for free
- Tactics to getting high conversions and good grades on book reviews
- A time-saving method to expedite your book review process
- Amazon’s rules regarding book reviews – the REAL rules
And yes, as you’ll see at the end of this article, each step is fully compliant with the up-to-date Amazon rules for getting book reviews.
Table of contents
- 1. Create Special Links to Go Straight to Your Review
- 2. Design a Book Review Ask in Your Book
- 3. Free Book Review Sites
- 4. A Giveaway Contest that is Legal!!!
- 5. Contact Amazon Top Reviewers
- 6. Using Launch Teams & ARCs Effectively
- 7. Reminder in Your Auto Responder System
- 8. Relaunch Your Book
- Editorial Reviews vs Amazon Reviews
- Amazon’s Rules on Book Reviews
- Some Legit Paid Ways to Speed Up The Process
Also, while I’m writing this with the new author in mind, it’s totally applicable to all authors…even the pros. Finally, please be aware that I did use some affiliate links in this article. Those links did not sway my thoughts on the article, nor does it affect your pricing. It's just a little something that goes towards my coffee fund to keep me writing.
One mistake many authors make is when they request for someone to give their book a review, they just send the person a link to their book, making the person click around till they finally get to the review page where they can write the review…yeesh, that’s a lot of steps!
Because of this, readers will more than likely not follow through. I know I haven’t in the past.
However, what if there was one special link you could send them that would take them straight to the review of your book? All they’d have to do is click, and they start writing the review.
Well, you can and here’s how:
Step 1. Depending on the format you want the review to be directed to, either find your ASIN for the eBook, or the ISBN -10 for the book (NOT ISBN-13), or the ASIN for the Audiobook.
Step 2. Take the following link, and add your number from step 1:
http://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin= + (ASIN or ISBN 10)
Step 3. The above link is only to the US market. If you want a different market, you need to just change out the “.com” to the appropriate one like “.de” for german, or “.co.uk”, and so on. However, be sure to check that country's ASIN or ISBN-10 for that same book…because sometimes it will be different – although this is mainly for published books and usually isn't the case for self-published books. But just check – you don't want your links to not work.
Example of What The Result Should Look Like:
As you can see, that will take you directly to The Way of Kings Audiobook review, since I used the ASIN for the audiobook. (PS: I'm a big fan of Brandon Sanderson, and will be meeting him in a couple of months to discuss book marketing…fan boy scream).
Now, any time you request a review in an email, message, or whatever, send them that special link to your book. That way, all they have to do is click the link and type the review. You’ll have a much higher chance that they’ll follow through and leave the review.
Caution: Your Link Not Working? First, if your link isn't working, just remember that Amazon won't allow you to leave a review for your own book. So, have someone else try your link. Also remember that in order to leave a review, someone needs to have made $50 purchase on Amazon that year.
Also, for the rest of the steps below, make sure you use this link when necessary. That’s why it is the first point in this list.
This may sound crazy but when you ask for a review after your book is done, you’ll not only increase the number of reviews, but also improve your review grade.
When I did this one simple addition to one of my books, I saw the conversion rate of book purchases to reviews left increase by 3x and has stayed that way since.
You see, we authors know how important a review is. But we forget that readers don’t always understand this and need more coaxing to take the little bit of extra effort to write a book review. Therefore, just by asking, you’ll see much higher conversions.
But that’s not all. There are actually some tactics to this section that can and will improve the number of book reviews you get, as well as the review grade.
When creating the ask, it is best to do the following:
Humanize Yourself: Find ways to remind the reader that you are actually a human with emotions and feelings. Remind them of how hard it was to put this book together. By doing this, they’ll be more likely to leave ‘you’ a review. Extra bonus tip: I sometimes like to post a candid non professional or staged picture of me with my family in this section because it really goes a long way to getting to know me, and feel more personal.
Impress Upon Them the Importance of the Review: Like I mentioned above, readers don’t fully understand the importance of a review. Therefore, remind them how they help you as an author and your book.
Tell Them You’ll Read the Book Review: When readers think that you’ll read and take to heart their review, two things will happen: they’ll feel more obligated to leave one since you’re depending on them, and their review grade will probably improve since they’ll know you, the human, will actually read it. We’ve all been there where we have a bunch of gusto against sometime, but the moment they’re there, we soften our tone. Same thing with reviews. I assure you, most criticism will become more constructive in nature when they know you’ll be there to read it.
Below is an example that Ken Lozito did with his absolutely incredible book series “First Colony.”
I can’t show it all, but ultimately Ken told the story of the sacrifice he made to become an author and some inside information about his life, and struggles to get that series out.
He did all three of the things listed above without sounding cheesy or coming across as begging. It’s a fine art!
Needless to say, I had listened to 7 of the books in that series, but on the 7th one where he put this in his audiobook, it legitimately made me not only give the 5 stars at the end, but take the time to write a well-thought-out review. I felt like it was the least I could do.
So, as you can see, there needs to be a fine balance of asking without overstepping. But when done right, you’ll see more reviews come through with better grades for every reader you get.
There are websites out there where some fans of a genre or subject loves to read books and leave reviews. Many of them have different reasons for this, but overall, they can be beneficial.
Be advised though, most of the review sites out there will read your book and make a review on their website, but that it won’t be an Amazon review (see below to read more about Amazon reviews vs Editorial Reviews). Even without the Amazon review, a book review site’s review can still be a powerful editorial review. Imagine being able to put in your editorial review for your scifi book, a glowing acknowledgment from TopSciFiBooks.com. Just the domain alone will carry anyone to better belief in your book, then some person or author name they've never heard of.
Here are some of my favorites free book review sites:
Love Books Group: Reviews books on their site is a easy process to submit.
Affaire de Coeur: A bi-monthly magazine that publishes reviews in historical, contemporary, paranormal, erotica, YA, and nonfiction primarily.
Book Page: Must send an ARC 3 months prior to publication date
The Kindle Book Review: Offers a list of reviews to contact individually based on preferred genres.
Compulsive Reader: Mainly focuses on literary fiction and poetry, they also review music CDs and other interesting things.
Crime Fiction Lover: Recommends sending a Press Release (***) and a bit hard to get into.
Book Smugglers: a highly read book blog that likes to focus on Horror, Urban Fantasy, SciFi, and YA.
Crime Scene Reviews: Reviews Crime and Mystery novels
SF Book: Started in 1996, SF books offers a list of Scifi Book reviewers you can contact individually
Fantasy Book Critics: Lists a bunch of legit book review sites, as well as offers their own in the Fantasy realm
Top Sci Fi Books: This website lists the best scifi and fantasy books based on certain subgenres. They have a sweet spot though for self published authors.
Barnes & Noble Review: An incredible name for a Editorial Review, however, they require you to physically mail a copy and a cover letter in for consideration.
If you’d like to see more niche-specific examples, Reedsy has done an AMAZING job of curating a list of book review websites, their requirements and even how much traffic each site potentially gets. However, do note, many sites on that list aren’t always free.
You can check out that list here: https://blog.reedsy.com/book-review-blogs/
I also wanted to mention StoryOrigin. When you use StoryOrigin, not only do you join a community of other authors, you basically have all the not-so-fun back end of things taken care of by using them. They help you build your email list, find reviewers, deliver lead magnets and more. Be sure to check them out!
In truth, I almost didn’t include this one. Not because it breaks any rules, but because you need to ABSOLUTELY follow my steps in order to stay compliant with Amazon.
But when done right, this tactic is extremely killer!
What you do is create a giveaway contest. In this contest, if they click the link that points to your book’s review page (see special link discussed above), they are automatically entered into the contest. That's it.
This works because, when they click the link, many readers will decide to leave a review since they are already there. This is compliant in Amazon’s eyes because they are entered in the contest by just clicking the link, not by submitting a review. Therefore, the review is not incentivized. You can see an example below on how to word this for best optimization as well as staying compliant.
Step 1: Build a giveaway
Step 2: Make it clear that to enter the giveaway, they just need to click the link that points to your book’s review page (see #1 above)
Step 3: And that’s it.
How to Build a Giveaway
There are two ways to build a giveaway:
1. Use Your Email System: You can send out an email blast to your readers with the instructions on how to do this. With most email systems like ConvertKit, you can mark which subscribers clicked on the link in the email. Then when the time is up, you can select from there.
2. Use KingSumo: This is a paid app that is around $49 for life, but it makes creating contests SUPER simple. Furthermore, it handles the legality issues on contests, and you can post links to the contest on Social Media, email, or even embed it on your website. You can check it out here.
Back in the day, Amazon used to list the email address and or websites of those who chose to make that public on their accounts. However, Amazon did away with this and instead only allows top Amazon product reviewers on the Vine Program to make their information available.
So, what is a Top Amazon Reviewer? These are people who Amazon believes make the most reviews. They even get a little tag next to their reveiws letting readers know that this is a professional reviewer. Pretty neat, right?
Beware: This process is very tedious, and time-consuming. I also find that most will reject the request. However, I only put this in here because I know of many authors who have benefited from this, but they too spent an inordinate amount of time following through. So, don't dabble in this one. Either commit or move on.
So, if you do decide to do this, how do you get the Amazon Top Reviewers to review your book?
Step 1: Go to the list of Amazon Top Reviewers
Step 2: Click on their profiles to see which books they've reviewed: No longer does Amazon have a specific spot for email address. However, most of the reviewers do have post their information in their bios, or list their social media and websites at the bottom (see below picture).
Step 3: Contact the reviewers: Depending on what source (social media, email, or website) contact them appropriately and see if they would be willing to review your book.
Using a launch team or Beta Readers and sending Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) is an important tactic that help with your book’s overall launch by ensuring you have good reviews on day-one of the launch. If you’re unfamiliar with that, then check out this article here.
But the short and simple to this tactic is that prior to launching your book, you send ARCs to people who will hopefully read the book, and or be prepared to leave a review upon your book's launch.
However, working with lots of authors, it’s become apparent that most DO NOT do ARC reviews as effectively or efficiently as they should, creating a super low conversion rate of beta readers who leave a review. Most times, this tactic sounds promising but is actually a complete let down.
Well, not if you do the following extra saucy tips, which will ENSURE you get more reviews out of it:
1. Stop sending mass emails to all Beta Readers: If you really want people to take action, ensure you talk to them personally. Send each beta reader a personal email asking him or her to take certain actions. They’ll feel more obligated to act when you are specifically emailing them and counting on their review. Whereas when it's obviously a mass email, many will inherently think that it's fine and you won't notice if they don't.
2. Track Your Readers: I actually develop a spreadsheet listing each beta reader or launch team member, when I last talked with them last, if they've left a review and any other notes. It’s important to keep track of them and that way no one slips through the cracks. You can also use a plugin like ReaderScout to know exactly when someone has left a review.
3. Have Them Notify You When It’s Dropped: Tell your beta readers or launch team members that once they’ve dropped the review, to let you know so you can read it. It isn’t just the expectation that you’re specifically waiting for their review, but also that you really want to know what they thought. Make it clear that it would mean the world to you. With this, they’ll feel as though you truly care and are waiting on them.
4. Remind them They Don’t have to Read All Of It: The biggest hang-up I get from Beta Readers is that they couldn’t finish the book in time and will leave one “later” (which they never do). However, remind them that they do not have to finish the book in order to leave a review, and that they can always change the review once they’ve finished it if they’d like. They can instead talk about what they’ve read so far, or even your legitimacy on the subject or genre. This way, there is not excuse to not leaving a review.
If you employ these four tactics to beta readers or launch teams, you’ll absolutely double your conversion rates of reviews left.
If you have an email list, then make sure to use your auto responder to help with your reviews.
Think about it…
If they signed up for your email list, then it means that they read your book and liked it. However, it definitely does not mean they left a review.
Therefore, set in your auto responder an email that specifically uses the tactics of 1 and 2 above to convince them to leave a review. This will help increase your book’s review frequency, its grade, and even help with your email system. Furthermore, employing #2 above, in the email, you'll build a stronger author brand and connection with your readers.
There are a couple of different ways to relaunch your book, and things to think about when doing so. However, let's discuss why this really helps with your book reviews and should be considered.
- Amazon loves new books: I call this the Amazon honeymoon period. I don't have any empirical data to prove this, but through years of working with books, when a book is launched, Amazon gives preferential treatment to new books.
- Use a new launch team: Perhaps you didn't effectively use your launch team or beta readers as well as we discussed in step 5. Well, by relaunching, you can. So, employ those steps and see real good come from it.
- Update some information: Look at your book as it is, and ask if there is something you can do to improve it. Perhaps you've seen some comments brought up in the reviews? Or you know there is a section you should add? These changes will help improve your book's review grades.
Editorial Reviews vs Amazon Reviews
We all know what Amazon reviews are. But do you fully understand what a Amazon Editorial Review is?
On Amazon, there is a section on your book's sales page where you can enter “Editorial Reviews” through you Author Central Account (here is how to setup one if you haven't already). In the editorial review, you can put just about anything here.
It could be from what a website said about your book, a news paper, a verbal recommendation, etc. The point is, you can use what people say outside of Amazon, here. As we showed from a heat map study, readers pay attention to the section. So, therefore, use the tactics listed above in order build a persuasive Editorial Review section for your book.
However, these are NOT Amazon reviews. Amazon reviews are where someone went to Amazon and left a review for your book itself.
Amazon’s Rules on Book Reviews
There is a little bit of confusion when it comes to giving a free book and asking for reviews. In truth, Amazon was a little confusing about how they look at this.
However, I went through all of Amazon's user agreements, FAQ's and even their own memo's so as to give you a definitive answer of:
YES, you can give a free copy of your book in advance for a review.
But there are some caveats and nuisances to this statement. So, check out the video below and learn all about Amazon's Book Review policy and ensure you are continually operating in Amazon's good graces.
Want more videos like this? Then click HERE to subscribe to my YouTube channel
So, here is a list what you can’t do:
1. Pay or Incentive Someone to Leave a Review in any way: This is different from the giveaway because they entered the giveaway by clicking the link and not by leaving a review
2. Offering a free gift if they review
3. Offering to refund the author their money for the review
You can give the book for free to them as an ARC. But you can't cover their costs. While they are both essentially “free,” the second one requires a review in order to make it free, thus incentivizing the review.
The same can be said about offering to send a Amazon gift card to cover the book
4. Swapping reviews with another author
Some Legit Paid Ways to Speed Up The Process
I repeat, you cannot pay or incentive someone in any way to leave a review. But you can pay to promote your book to readers who are likely to leave reviews.
Self-Publishing Review is one example of a service that sells email list promotions designed to result in more sales and more unbiased reviews. If you're looking for opportunities, that could be worth looking into. Use the code KINDLEPRENEUR5 to save 5% on anything from their site.
ReaderScout is another tool I highly recommend for authors who want to track all of the reviews that come in. This makes it much easier for you to know when your ARC readers, for example, have actually left their review. ReaderScout is a completely FREE Chrome plugin and reviews aren't the only thing it tracks. Check it out here.
Now, Let's Go Get Those Book Reviews
No matter which route you’ll go, there’s no easier way to get the initial reviews, especially if you’re an unknown author. An additional benefit of this approach is that you’ll get to speak with your readers directly, thus getting valuable feedback and building new relationships.
I hope you enjoyed this guide on how to get free book reviews. It seems pretty straightforward, but can be a little time-consuming…but as most authors will tell you, getting your book reviewed can be a powerful metric that should have a positive effect on your Kindle sales.