One of the most difficult parts of book marketing (if not the most difficult) is getting reviews for your book, particularly quality reviews that exceed one sentence.
Why is this?
Because each potential reviewer is a busy person with a lot on their plate, so their time is valuable.
Besides, remember back when you weren't an author? It wasn’t evident to you how important reviews were, so you didn’t think to go out of your way to leave a review. It just sometimes…happened.
So, as you can see, readers and fans need a little nudge and some simple tactics to get them to not only leave any review but a great one that will help you sell more.
But here’s where authors usually fail.
Most simply send out an invitation to their list with a soft ask, letting subscribers know that they would appreciate a review of the book. This is usually the first and only email we ever send, and we wonder why reviews only trickle in from our lists.
This just doesn’t work.
So, how do we do this more effectively and mobilize readers to leave reviews?
In this article you will learn:
- The dos and don'ts of review incentivizing
- How to deliver your book to reviewers (give as a gift or send as an attachment?)
- How to write the first outreach email (templates included)
- How and when to write a follow-up email and beyond
Table of contents
- Question 1: Getting Email Subscribers
- Question 2: Can You Incentivize a Review? Let’s See…
- Question 3: How do you deliver the book to reviewers?
- Question 4: Who Should We Email This Offer to?
- Step 1: Email to Find Out Who Will Read and Review
- Step 2: How to Write a Follow-up Email
- Step 3: Track and Pursue
- Final Thoughts
Getting reviews is incredibly important (no one likes buying a book with no reviews). By knowing who to email, how to mobilize them, mastering the art of the follow-up, and tracking, we can increase email open rates and encourage subscribers to leave authentic reviews.
But before we get into turning our subscribers into real reviewers, there are four questions we, as authors, must answer:
This article assumes that you already have an established email list, and shows how you can get more out of that email list. However, if you don’t have one already established, or you want to increase the size of your email list, then be sure to check out the following tactics:
- Give content upgrades in your book
- Facebook Ads
- Find the email addresses of reviewers
- Capture leads through your website with a lead magnet (the first chapter in your book, audio recordings, video course etc.)
- Write blog posts relating to your book and incentivize readers to sign up for your mailing list.
Before we dive in I 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!
There is confusion about incentivizing Amazon book reviews and how this works with Amazon’s TOS. Dave made a handy video explaining the topic in depth:
Want more videos like this? Then click HERE to subscribe to my YouTube channel
It is very important to be careful with book reviews on Amazon, as they have been known to delete reviews without warning. So, follow Dave’s explanation and you should be fine.Can you give your book in exchange for a review? Amazon says YES! See for yourself. #BookMarket #SelfPubClick To Tweet
One important step to getting reviewers to leave reviews is sending them a copy of the book so that they can actually review it.
A process that first sounds easy…until you go to do it and then you’re like: “Uh…do I send a .mobi or pdf? Um…what if people start shipping it off or giving it away for free? Um..crap!”
But don’t worry – I’ll lay out the three ways of doing this here (plus their pros and cons).
Send Book as Email Attachment
Option 1 is to send those that agree to leave a review a copy via email attachment as a PDF, MOBI or EPUB (or whichever one you choose to export your book as). However, there are some issues with this process:
- You can’t control what people do with those files. They could post it on a forum or on another site.
- If you don’t have all three, and your reviewer prefers a certain version, they’ll be less likely to read your book.
- If you do have all three, you’ll need to include instructions on how they can access it (ex. It’s a little difficult to take a .mobi file and get it on your Kindle).
Give Book as a Gift on Amazon
Option 2 is you can give the book as a gift via Amazon’s “give as gift” option on the book’s page – see Dave’s video above to learn why you can and how to do this right. However, there are a couple of risks that go with this:
- Each book costs money – granted you get a percentage back but that still adds up
- Reviewers can return the book and get a refund negating your efforts
- Using this method, the review is NOT seen as a Verified Review by Amazon
Use Service Like Book Funnel
When you use a service like Book Funnel (that’s what Dave Chesson uses), you can send all versions of your books to potential reviewers. Book Funnel will ask the user which format they prefer and they monitor who downloads it. This ensures no copies get out to others who shouldn’t have it. And it gives you easy communication with those who did take the book, which makes the whole process below a lot easier.
- Costs $20/year (yes, you read that right…per year) for their first-time authors and $100/year for mid-list authors. See the pricing here.
A healthy mix of these ideas is possible, but not necessary. I recommend reserving the “give as gift” option for your most trusted reviewers. In my experience, reviewers that love your book will go ahead and take the extra step to download the book via Amazon, especially if it is $0.99 or free.
But Dave likes the low price and ease of Book Funnels, which helps him to manage his review process.
“Do I send this offer of a free book in exchange for a review to my entire list or a select list?”
Well, that depends.
If you have a large email list, then probably not, right? After all, if you’ve offered the book for free, who’s going to buy it when it comes out? You’ve already devalued it in their minds.
Instead, you should either:
- Send it out to a select number of your email list
- Send it to those you’ve identified as your street team, or real fans
ADVANCED TIP: What is a street team? Well, Kevin Kruse has a great video on that and how he gets so many of them to write reviews.
Ultimately, over time you want to identify those that are your true fans – fans that take action and really enjoy your work. Use these guys as your book review launch team – you’ll get a higher conversion rate and better reviews.
Step 1: Email to Find Out Who Will Read and Review
Having people on our email list is one thing. Turning them into action takers that leave great reviews is another.
So, how do we turn readers on our list into reviewers that will take time to go and leave a review?
We start by simply asking.
Ultimately, your readers want to hear from you, so the more unique and personal you make the email the better, but make sure it has these components:
- A solid intro to you and your book. If your list is relatively new, it’s a good idea to start out with who you are and then give a brief introduction to your book.
- Next, talk about the main point your book is set out to solve. For fiction, talk about why the book is interesting and stands out from the crowd. It’s important to think about what is in it for them, why they should download your book, read it, and then go to the trouble of writing a review for it. Focus on how the book will help them or provide an entertaining story they’ll enjoy.
- Offer to send a free copy of the book if they agree to read it. Make it clear that you welcome any honest feedback, and that you are in no way requiring them to leave a review, but you would appreciate that they do so (keeps you compliant with Amazon).
- Do not attach a copy of your book to this first email, as you won’t be able to gauge interest in your book. Let them know that you need a reply to the email to confirm they are in. Replying forces people to have a little bit of “skin in the game” if they want to read your book.
- Add your email signature or sign off.
Here is a template you can use to get started:
[Your Name] here, just wanted to say thanks for connecting, I’m excited to have you here!
My new book, ___, is going to be out soon and I wanted to offer you an opportunity to check it out before anyone else—for free!
If you’re interested, just reply to this email and agree to leave me an honest review on Amazon, and I’ll send it over. These reviews really help me as an author to get my book in front of more people just like you.
That’s it! No gimmicks or scams. Just reply here to let me know you’re in and I’ll send over a copy in PDF, Mobi or EPUB format, and you can read it on your preferred device.
Until next time,
Remember, it’s important to customize the email, making it your own. This template is meant to be a helpful guide. If your reader can feel the personalization and lack of copy/pasting, your conversion rates will be higher. You want them to feel as though you’re speaking directly to them.
Once you start getting responses, compile these folks in a separate tracking sheet (or tag them with a special label within your email hosting platform) and move on to the next step.
Step 2: How to Write a Follow-up Email
Now that you have a list of email subscribers that have agreed to read your book, it’s time for the most important step, following up with them!
The fact of the matter is that people get busy or forget. A gentle reminder can make a huge difference in terms of response rates, and ultimately, quality book reviews.
This is the step that can set you apart from most other authors, as doing follow-ups can be a time consuming and difficult task. Not so if you learn how to track progress and send the right messages to your list.
3 Important notes on follow-ups:
- Don’t send the follow-up email to your entire list. Only send it to the folks that already requested a copy of your book.
- Only send to people that have not already left a review. (You can check this by looking at your reviews on Amazon or by tracking it when people respond and tell you they left a review.)
- Send the follow-up as a reply to each reviewer that responds to you, making sure to maximize the personalization factor when appropriate. This will not only increase conversions but will work to build a relationship with that potential reviewer. Relationships are key.
A good follow up email:
- Is timed appropriately. No reason to send this email out 2 days after you sent your book to the readers. Wait at least 7 days and then send it.
- Is short and to the point.
- Is as personalized as possible.
- Includes a link to download your book again, just in case they misplaced it.
- Has one clear call to action directing people to go and review your book, including a link straight to the review page of your book.
- Leave a reason for them to reply when they have left a review – this way you can get confirmation.
- Lets the reader know they don’t have to finish the book to leave a review, and that they can always come back and edit their review if needed, once they do finish the book.
It can look something like this:
Hope you had a chance to check out [my book (link to the book right here or reference the attachment)] and are enjoying it.
[The Book Title] is officially live here on Amazon and you can review it [right here](This is the link to go directly to your book’s review page. To find, click on your book’s page, navigate to “write a customer review” and copy and use that URL here.)
I appreciate you reading my book and would like to ask a quick favor. Would you please take a minute to leave a review on Amazon? This will help me reach more people with my book and hopefully, get higher up in the rankings. I can’t thank you enough for helping me out!
Don’t worry if you haven’t read the book all the way through, as you can always go back and change your review at a later date. But getting a review around launch is very important.
If you have, or when you have, can you let me know by hitting reply? As an author, reading reviews will really help me improve and hone my craft, and I don’t want to miss what you have to say.
Have an awesome rest of your day!
Step 3: Track and Pursue
After 14 days, if they haven’t responded, you can send an additional email to prompt a response.
Keep this one very short, something like:
Hey [their name], hope all is well.
Just checking in to see if you read the free book I sent you and if you were able to leave a review?
Just let me know because your input is very important to me.
After two follow-ups to any one subscriber, leave it be and at this point. Either they are going to leave a review or they’re not.
Some will continue to follow up. In truth, if the list of reviewers are people I know are true fans, then I know it isn’t that they don’t want to help with a review, it's just that they are a little busy and just haven't’ gotten to it. So sending a followup is okay.
However, if this group was formed by only emailing a certain section of your email, then continuing to push might be too much.
It all depends on your relationship with this group.
Getting reviews for your book is a multi-step process. From sending out the original “feeler” email to continued follow-ups, be sure to track your progress and execute efficiently.
Keep the focus on building relationships with your readers and you will find success…and a lot more reviews!
Thanks for reading and best of luck to you.