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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Reviews–The Bane of all Authors

By Becky Lower

.7 out of 5 stars

Every author knows that part of their marketing efforts should include getting their books reviewed on various sites in order to stimulate sales. Reviews tell a potential reader the book has appeal to a wide variety of readers. There are some advertising venues, such as The Fussy Librarian, that won’t allow an ad to run unless the book reaches the golden number of ten reviews. Amazon doesn’t take a book seriously unless it reaches that goal, either. Ten reviews is nothing for a well-known author to garner. But what about those authors who are just beginning the publishing journey or those who have only a small following and a smaller budget? After friends and family weigh in with a review, how does an author gain more? 

Sure, there are loads of sites eager to take an author's money in exchange for a review. But even though we all recognize the value of a review from a site like Kirkus, and we all see the benefit of being listed on NetGalley, most authors fall into the “starving artist” category and can’t begin to afford such services. But there are ways for even the poorest author to get reviews, if you have the time and persistence you need. 

Publishers have a handful of favorite review sites they send to but do little more, because of its time-consuming nature, to find new places to send your work. It falls to the author to ferret out ever-changing blog sites and reviewers who will be forthcoming with an honest review in exchange for a free copy of their book. So how do you weave your way through the various opportunities out there?

Start with the Basics

Regardless of how your book is being published—traditionally or self-published—there are friends and family you can reach out to. Ask for reviewers. You’ll find a few. If you have a newsletter, ask for ARC readers to get an advance read of your new book. 

 Expand to Known Review Sites

In order to be truly successful, you need reviews from legitimate review sites, and there are a ton of them out there. How to find them is the time-consuming part. But there is a strategic way to do it.

First, you need to become familiar with other authors who write in your genre. Look at the big names as well as mid-list authors and those just starting out. You’ll be able to find them through Amazon’s keyword system. Type in the genre you’re interested in, such as American historical romance or small-town contemporaries, and look at the author's reviews, see what names of review sites keep popping up, and write them down. Then, head to each reviewer’s website and check out their submission guidelines before you query. Some want the ARC submitted with the initial query; some only want the blurb and cover to begin with. This takes a boatload of time, but the payoff will be worth it.

If you have any experience with selling in the real world, be it helping your daughter with Girl Scout cookie orders or selling widgets in your day job, then you know that not everyone you approach is going to buy your product. You have to keep filling the funnel with names in the hopes that a small percentage will listen to you. But, if you do get some review sites to read your book, you can begin to develop relationships with the reviewers, so the next time will be easier.

Keep a Spreadsheet

Keep a spreadsheet of some kind of the various review sites, the genre they like to read (especially if you write in more than one genre), when you queried them, what book you queried for, their website, e-mail address, and contact info. Things can get confusing, so it’s always a good idea to keep things simple. That way, you’ll avoid backtracking and sending out duplicate requests.

Add on to Your Review

If a review site accepts your book, then take another look at their site to see if they offer author spotlights, guest posts, cover reveals or excerpts. These are ways to strengthen the review and to make certain the review appears on their website for longer than one day. Take advantage of this free publicity.

Keep track on some kind of calendar of where you’ll be appearing, and make certain you get whatever they need to the site in plenty of time to post it. Then, you need to announce your appearance on your website, to your chapter, your publisher, etc. The more people you can drive to the reviewer’s site, the more likely they’ll be to accept your next book for review. (You are already writing it, aren’t you?)

 Be Courteous

Most of all, be courteous when asking for or receiving a review. Remember, these people are not being paid for their time. They have other jobs, families, and outside obligations, just as you do. They are reading your book because they love the genre and love to discover new authors.

Not every review will be a 5-star one, because reading is subjective. A few 2- and 3-star reviews will make you look legitimate anyway and prove to potential buyers that it’s not just your mom who read your book. And every review, regardless of its content, counts. And that’s the big payoff.

And remember, every book you read has an author behind it who would appreciate a review, so after you reach the end, you're not done until you post a review on Amazon and Goodreads, at the very least. 

Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. She loves to hear from her readers at Visit her website at


  1. Great article, Becky. I also really like using Net Galley, which offers your book for free to those willing to do a review and Booksprout, where you can ask for ARC reviews.

    1. Thanks, Amanda. I never had much success with Net Galley, but I've heard good things about Booksprout.

  2. Great suggestions. I've found it easier to get reviews on some books vs. others, not sure why. Either way, it's a long game, and we must keep chugging away.

    1. Not just reviews, but publishing in general is a long game that we must keep chugging away at.

  3. Great article. It really is hard to get reviews. I'll be using some of these. Thanks for posting.

  4. Very useful information. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It is hard to get those reviews, which is why I try to review the books I read. It is important, and whether you loved the book or not, it is helpful for the author to get the feedback. Doris

  5. A good article filled with important information about book reviews, Becky.
    Honestly, I used to pursue reviews from locations that did not charge a fee. As time has gone by, I have stopped requesting reviews. Since Amazon is the distributor for Prairie Rose Publications and allows reviews from readers, I depend on those reviews now. Readers give their honest opinion, so a good review holds some weight. Negative reviews, although sometimes are not appropriate to the work, can give some insight into what readers really like or not and I can use that to improve my work. I don't get upset about negative reviews. I sure do feel uplifted by the positive ones though. LOL
    Thank you for such a thorough and informative post, Becky.