5 Ways To Get More Reviews For Your Self-Published Book
Hello there! Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my website, especially the Writer’s Block. This is where I plan to share everything I have learned from my time in the literary realm as a writer, reviewer, and a curious gal. As the title says, my first post here will be on something I had to learn back when I was still a self-published author. For those who’ve been with me since the site started, you remember Cross Academy, right? My Christian YA dark fantasy has been taken down for some reworking, but I still remember all the long hours I put into gaining each and every review it had while still published. Here are five of the things that I researched and did myself to when I self-published my first book.
1. Find a Community
Honestly, this is the best and worst piece of advice. I say this because some communities can be very helpful and welcoming while others can be toxic and competitive. Still, there are definitely great places out there that you can grow from. I personally learned a lot from joining small self-publishing communities on Goodreads. I found people there looking for critique partners, book reviews, and some who offered advice on getting into the traditional publishing realm. I know this is vague advice but once you find your place you’ll grow like a weed.
2. LOOK for Reviewers
This shouldn’t need to be said but there are so many new—and old!—authors out there who are wondering why their work has only a few reviews when they’ve put little to no effort in finding them. The Rebel Christian is not the only website out there offering free reviews; there are thousands of them and you have the chance of getting a review from each and every one if you just ask. For those Christian authors reading this, here is a list of the top 100 Christian Book Review Blogs, courtesy of Feedspot, a wonderful website which aims to connect writers and readers around the globe for networking opportunities. Be sure to click the link and scroll through the list, you’ll find The Rebel Christian at number 30.
3. Join Blog Tours
This bit of advice goes along with looking for reviews, but I’ve included it as a separate piece because blog tours are much different from simply asking an individual to take a look at your work. For those who don’t know, a blog tour is an event hosted by a group of blogs, usually 3-10, where each blog will post a review of your book, one at a time, over the course of a few days or weeks. Blog tours can also include author interviews, cover reveals, and many other promotional opportunities. They’re an excellent way for authors to introduce themselves to a fresh new community and gain a few reviews at the same time. If you don’t know where to start looking, I used to join blog tours for Enchanted Book Promotions every so often; they’re a very friendly website that’s open to new authors, I’d definitely start by checking them out.
4. Shed a Little Dough
If you’ve made it to this stage with your book, then you already know self-publishing isn’t always cheap. Unless you’re completely DIY, you’ll have to hire someone to design your book cover and check over your manuscript for editing—I do recommend professional editing for every author. Self-editing is the worst possible option; you need someone who will be unbiased to point out mistakes you might have missed. Besides that, if you’re looking to join a blog tour you should be willing to pay the money for it. Not every option is cheap, some websites promise red carpet exposure in exchange for 500 or even 1000 dollars. But there are some blog tours that will give you up to 5 honest reviews for as little as 50 bucks. That being said, you should never pay for book reviews but what you are purchasing in a blog tour is the exposure to a number of different communities, not the review itself—that’s more of a bonus.
5. Have a Platform
This piece of advice is something I did not want to do when I first got started and, in some ways, I don’t believe it is 100% necessary for success. The idea is that having someplace for readers to come to when searching for you or your work will help build an audience and an outlet for authors. But what do you do if you don’t have money to spend on editing, book cover designs, blog tours, and building a fancy new website? The key term here is platform—not website. You can start by having something simple like a Facebook page, an account on LinkedIn or just a profile on Goodreads. As long as there is someplace for curious readers to look at your work and see a little more of who you are then you’re doing it right. Now, how does this help you gain more reviews for your work? A platform is somewhere for readers and fans to gather, you can reach out to your audience through your blog, profile, etc. You can also offer reviews for other authors from your platform. Most of my earliest readers were people who stumbled onto The Rebel Christian looking for a review, some of them agreed to read and honestly review Cross Academy as a thank-you to me. And look at me now, over 300 subscribers and no book anymore!
Cross Academy has been un-published for reworking but there was a time it had nearly 50 reviews and an average rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads and Amazon respectively. Most of my reviews were from other bloggers and readers of The Rebel Christian but once I got enough exposure I was blessed to reach a point where readers were posting reviews on their own.
You will find that same sweet spot soon enough, just keep going and never give up. As a piece of bonus advice, do not get discouraged or enflamed by negative reviews! Not only does it look unprofessional, but it is incredibly rude and unflattering of yourself to respond and react to every criticism you might get from readers. I once had an author email me pages worth of rants about how my review was ‘unfair’ or how I ‘misunderstood’ his work. You need to understand, no matter how well written your book is, how strong the message is, or how passionate you are about your work…not everyone is going to like it. Some reasons for disliking will be very warranted, some will be as simple as having different tastes. Either way, people are entitled to their opinions on your work. The sooner you accept that not every opinion will be positive, the sooner you’ll be able to focus on better things. You need to think about what you can write next, not spending time defending something that’s already published and out there. If your work is good enough, it won’t need to be defended.
I hope you were all able to learn something new from reading this, or at least able to find some use of the websites I linked here. Leave questions and comments below and be sure to subscribe so you’ll know when I post more tips and links for new and learning authors.
Until next time, God bless!