Monday, March 12, 2012

Get Your Book Reviewed


Recently I’ve been inundated with mail from other writers asking, “How did you get so many great reviews for your novels?”

The answer is straightforward. All it takes is patience and elbow grease. Trust me—you can do this. And if you can’t afford the expense of a blog tour with a PR firm, this is a simple way to earn those much-deserved reviews.

Begin on Amazon. Find books similar to yours. A professional book reviewer will often list her full name on her review. She may also list the name of her book blog. Use either one for a Google search.

Once you’ve located the blog, read the Review Policy carefully. Follow the instructions on how to send a query. Put that information in an Excel or Word document with a contact and email address for the given reviewer.

Next, do a Google search of Book Blogs. Many directories are available. Yes, it takes time to scroll through the list, visit each site and read each Review Policy. Also note that some blogs don’t name the contact person in an About Me section. You’ll have to read through several posts to find the name of the reviewer who runs the blog.

Once again, add these names to your Excel or Word list.

If you use Twitter (and I think you’re crazy if you don’t) you’ll also bump into book reviewers. If a writer in your genre posts a review, pop over to the site and gather information. If a reviewer follows you, put her name in a Twitter List of potential reviewers. Use that list to add to your ever-growing Excel or Word list.

I’m a bit of a noob when it comes to software and still keep my reviewers in a Word document. I swear on a stack of pancakes that I’ll transfer the contacts to Excel once my life slows down, or hell freezes over. Anyway, I do find Word’s search function a great convenience now that I’ve released my second novel, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge http://tinyurl.com/757vrfm.  Many reviewers gave my debut, Treasure Me, high marks and asked that I contact them again with future novels. I keep their names in a list alphabetized by blog name, with room for updates. It looks something like this:

Betty’s Books Galore  Betty Thompson booksgalore@gmail.com  http://www.bettysbooksgalore.com 4/5/11: sent Treasure Me query.  4/12/11: Betty asked for post on upcoming review. 4/16/11: post sent with art 
5/10/11 Review up on Betty’s blog & posted on Amazon and GR
2/28/12: contacted Betty to read pre-pub of Tree  3/1/12: Betty asked for post
3/5/12: post sent with art.  3/15/12: review up and reposted on Amazon & GR. Betty asked to read pre-pub of my next novel.

A note on your query email: I personalize each letter and mention the name of the blog. You want to build lasting relationships with the reviewers who fall in love with your books. They are dedicated bibliophiles who will help build your career if you treat them with the professionalism they deserve. I’ve had reviewers hand my book off to another reviewer if they’re under the weather and can’t review, and share private lists of blog sites they admire. One reviewer recently scheduled Tree promotions on five blogs in the U.S., Europe and Africa because we’ve struck up a warm friendship.

By the way, I keep reviewers in a Twitter List I check weekly. If they’ve posted a new review, I re-tweet the post. If they’re running a promotion for another author, I put the word out on FaceBook, Google+ and other media sites. Do the same for the bloggers who kindly review your book.

A note on your query letter: If your book became a finalist or won an award in a contest, mention it early in your pitch. The pitch for my debut mentioned Publishers Weekly early on:

Dear (Name of Reviewer):

I hope you’ll be interested in reviewing my women’s fiction novel Treasure Me, which was a semi-finalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Publishers Weekly reviewed the manuscript and said, “Birdie Kaminsky, a beautiful blond bombshell of a con artist, has met her match in Hugh Schaeffer, an investigative reporter in this zesty novel rife with witty dialogue and well-drawn characters. Their catty romance and zany interactions filled with witty double entendres are gems.”

My query for Tree was shorter—book review sites appear increasingly buried in requests and I strove to be succinct:

Hi (Name of Reviewer):

Last year you kindly reviewed my debut novel, Treasure Me, which continues to earn 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads and has now entered national contests. In mid-March I’ll release a more dramatic contemporary fiction novel, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge.

NAME, I hope you’ll consider reviewing Tree for NAME OF BLOG. The various eBook versions will be available in several days for transmission. The paperback version will be available in two weeks. You’ll find the short synopsis, below.

Many thanks in advance. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wishing you all the best,

Christine
www.christinenolfi.com

About The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge:

A savage rape on hallowed ground. Secrets buried for decades by the town’s most influential family.

Now Ourania D’Andre will learn the Great Oak’s secrets as construction begins at the Fagan mansion. She can’t afford to turn down a job that promises to stir up the long-buried guilt—and the passion—she shares with powerful Troy Fagan.

She’s already juggling the most important job of her career with her new responsibilities as a foster mother for young Walt and Emma Korchek. And there’s a hard, older man on the construction crew with eyes void of emotion—cold and killing. The secrets of his brutal past will pose a grave threat to the children in her care. Will she find the courage to face him?

If you have questions after reading this post, please add a comment. I’ll try to address your concerns. And good luck!

55 comments:

  1. Great post Christine- I'm currently waiting on three reviews on well known blogs for my novel 'Curse of Ancient Shadows' and have found hard work, and being polite, is key. :)

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    1. Rod, you're way ahead of the pack! Too often authors shy away from searching for those all-important reviews. I'm betting those three reviewers will ask you to put them at the front of the line for your next release.

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    2. Hi Christine and budding authors, I review books for both the blog spot and for publication in two magazines I am the Managing Editor of. You may like to check out my reviews and contact details at http://goodgabblebookreviews.blogspot.com. Hope it helps!

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    3. Dear Christine I am a published childrens author and a three time published poet . I am currently looking for a new agent or publisher can you possibly give me a few suggestions I can be emailed at swimlittleswimmy123@yahoo.com Thank you and god bless .

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  2. This from a book blogger: "Read the review policy" There is no better advice out there! Do this if you don't want to waste your time and see your query ending up in trash.

    Ritesh @ http://riteshkala.wordpress.com/

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    1. Well said! I think it's easy for writers to forget how many queries a reviewer must slog through in any given day. Some reviewers will only consider books--if you've just published in eBook only, don't approach them until you make the leap to paperback.

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  3. You are super organized! Also, I love that you contacted me about your latest book. As a blogger, it's sometimes easy to miss when an author you like releases their next book.

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    1. Sarah, I spent weeks reading posts on a gazillion blogs to find stellar sites before beginning the initial query process for my debut--and Workaday Reads was at the top of the list! It's a tough slog for a contemporary fiction writer because many sites aren't interested in my type of book. I'd read through your posts before sending out that Treasure Me query to ensure I wasn't wasting your time pitching a book you would not want to read.

      It's critical for authors to keep in mind the overwhelming chores a bibliophile must complete to run a top-notch review blog. You're in the same boat as the average NY editor--working long hours, reading through thousands of pages, and posting insightful comments that allow your followers to find the next great read.

      Truly, I live in awe of the men and women who run review sites. So much great fiction wouldn't reach the light of day without your enthusiasm.

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  4. Excellent post Christine - very helpful information. Thank you for this post.

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  5. Great info Christine. I started out assuming I would get reviews from family and friends. Nope. Oh, a few did, but I couldn't even get my daughter to write one. So I started a process similar to yours. It's hard work and takes a lot of time, but if you want to sell books you have to do it.

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    1. Ben, readers are savvy--they pick up on those reviews by friends & family! Excellent reviews from a professional book site will bring in sales. Good luck with your queries and please let me know when the reviews arrive--I'll RT!

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  6. Oh, Christine, this post is so very helpful to me! I will definitely use your methods for getting those book reviews! Thank you :).

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    1. Mavis, it would be great if we could all plunk down hundreds of dollars for a blog tour and a PR firm to do the legwork. On the up side, you WILL garner qualified reviews if you take the time to match your book to the proper review site. Good luck with the process and let me know when the reviews come it. I'll RT.

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  7. Thanks for your post Christine. I have to book mark this page to keep it in remembrance when I finally get my books out. I joined your site. Would love it if you would be able to return the favor. Thanks. Also, before I forget, I also posted your blog on my FB pg and am promoting it there:

    http://www.facebook.com/Writingdivine Return the favor and like the pg? Thanks.

    http://www.thefatandtheskinnyonwellness.com/2012/03/now-you-know-stop-kony-good-does.html

    Thanks for sharing.
    A pleasure,
    Ciao,
    Carole Di Tosti

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  8. Many thanks for reading along and for promoting my blog, Carole. Actually I'm burying Blogger soon--I have a new WordPress blog attached to www.christinenolfi.com that I must begin using. I simply haven't found the time yet to make the transfer.

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    1. Sorry about that! Great post, Christine! I shall attempt to use this process with my third book, Journey's Embrace. Thanks for sharing.

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    2. My pleasure, Dora. After all the hard work we undertake to create great books, they deserve review. Here's hoping your third release garners bundles of positive reviews!

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  10. Thanks for sharing this, Christine. I'll know just what to do when my first book is released. Great post!

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    1. Glad to help, Carlie. Wishing you all the best with your debut.

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    3. Great post Christine. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. Great info! Best of luck to you! PJ

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  12. I'm happy to review for anyone. My Blog. http://haveyouheardbookreview.blogspot.com/
    I've been told by authors I'm honest and usually right on with any issues. You may contact me at macladie25@yahoo.com or @kissablysweet1 on Twitter. THANKS!

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    1. Melanie, a thousand thanks for posting your information here. Many authors complete a novel then ask, "How do I get reviews?" Nothing puts wind in a novel's sales like high praise from a qualified book reviewer.

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  13. Christine, thank you so much for this post which is full of important information. As a first-time co-author of newly published ebook, I am learning just how much hard work is involved in letting others know that one's book is available to read. I've learned so much from reading through this post a few times today and really appreciate it. Lois Hughes

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    1. I'm so glad the information is helpful, Lois! Congratulations on the publication of your first eBook.

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  14. Hi Christine if anyone would like a FREE review that will also be published on both Amazons and Goodreads and my blog please contact me http://nikkis-books4u.blogspot.co.uk/ :)

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    1. Nikki, many thanks for posting your information here. Authors need those reviews!

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  15. This is so fascinating as I just found out that this works myself! I took off with much the same method you've used, Christine, and it paid off in spades. Am busy writing guest blogs as well, so I can vouch for it too that it does work wonders taking the time to do this.

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  16. Christine, Thank you for a great article. You've spelled out the steps in a way that even a newbie can understand.

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  17. Thank you so much for the wonderful and easy to understand article. Now following!

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  18. I respond to every request for a review even though I can't take on every book and some just aren't in my interest area.

    A great resource for writers is bookblogs.ning.com. You'll find a lot of reviewers on there.

    Tina - http://books.tinaarnoldi.com

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    1. Tina, a thousand thanks for listing a great resource for authors seeking review.

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  19. Christine, Thank you for taking the trouble to put all this information out. My novel was published last year in partnership with Hellgate Press. I realized that the publicity was up to me. Though 750 plus pages, it earned first place in its unpublished genre in the 2010 Florida Writer's Assn Royal Palm Literary Awards competition (which I never mentioned to any potential reviewers until today). Hellgate cut it down to 557 pages and it came out in the fall. I sent copies out to interested people and ended up with five lengthy reviews on Amazon, along with 5 short reviews from purchasers. It's been praised on two blogs, one British, but so far has not garnered any big-time reviews. So, your advice is as water to someone running a Death Valley marathon.

    As some of my VIetnamese characters would say: Cam On Nhieu Lam (Thank you very much).

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    1. Have you sent your debut to The Midwest Book Review? Libraries take their recommendations seriously. You'll need to mail a paperback copy; usually you'll hear back regarding a review within two months:

      Mr. James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
      The Midwest Book Review
      278 Orchard Drive
      Oregon, WI 53575

      www.midwestbookreview.com

      Wishing you all the best with your novel--and congratulations on the wonderful reviews and awards!

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  20. Thank you for the great advice! I too have developed a personal relationship with some of the reviewers. It really works and you make new friends along the way.

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    1. Georginia, aren't the friendships with reviewers wonderful? They love working with writers and often share the most helpful advice.

      Many thanks for reading along.

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  21. I review books for free, tweet the reviews, reference on Facebook, cy review at Goodreads, Amazon, smashwords or wherever asked & make notes as I read of words are out of place, or obvious typos. I hope to help writers to be successful. I am a graphic designer & illustrator & hope that making contacts will ultimately put me together with writers who need good cover design & illustrations. Twitter is @moonshinearts; MoonShineArtSpot@gmail.com;

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    1. Thank you for leaving your contact information on my blog. No doubt you'll receive many queries from authors who stumble across your name!

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  22. Great post - if only we just had a little more time! :)

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    1. Caroline, time management seems the bane of every writer's life. Do the best you can to garner reviews and leave the rest to fate. Good luck!

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  23. Christine, thank you for the helpful post. You're much better organized than I am, though I'm approaching 100 reviews for my three books.

    There is another part to this process, though. Once you get a review, what do you do with it? My main approach is to snip out the best phrases and fit them into Twitter feeds. Even in the couple of less-than-glowing reviews I've received, there are usually phrases I can use. That gives a review a big multiplier effect.

    By the way, useful reviews can come from anyone who is a reasonably decent and thoughtful writer.

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    1. Bob, I've used several snippets from reviews as teasers on my paperbacks. Of course, I asked the reviewer for permission before starting the presses rolling.

      Like you, I also use some quotes from reviews on Twitter, FB and G+. I need to add GoodReads to the list ... after I finish the edit for my third release.

      Congratulations on reaching 100 reviews--a huge achievement.

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  24. Thanks for this - this whole world of self promotion is stressful, I must say! This is very helpful (my fist book was just publisted last week, so when I say I'm new at it, I'm NEW!).

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  25. Fantastic post! I just happen to be putting my book out there to be reviewed right now. This is so very helpful.

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  26. Great post, thanks!! I just wanted to second the idea that it's important to target book bloggers who have specifically mentioned they review books in your genre. Some bloggers will review books in any genre, but most will clearly specify what they like and don't like.

    This also ensures the likelihood of a good review. Think about it: if the blogger loves historical fiction, and you offer them sci-fi, they probably won't accept it. And if for some reason they do, it's probably they won't like it...not because your book isn't good, they just don't like that kind of book.

    Again, this takes time but if you do a good job of targeting, it will save you from sending out a lot of emails that won't get a response. Go for quality, not quantity, however tempting quantity may be.

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  27. I wish more people would take this advice, especially the part where you advise actually reading the review criteria and adhering to it. More often than not, the books pitched to me as a reviewer are ones that are not in the genres I read, so I have no idea how they even came across my name. Moreover, I'm currently not accepting books for review. But everyone seems to think that they're the exception. As a reviewer, my biggest advice to authors who are seeking reviews is to make sure they're following the reviewer's policies - a good relationship with a reviewer can be worth gold, but a bad one can poison so much.

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  28. I think it is very nice of you to share this information and it is true that all this process need time and patience. There are some things though that changes a little the scenery. At least for indie authors. Many blogs don’t review self-published work and I frankly don’t understand that. What we do then? If you have time you can read a post I had published on my blog. Here is the link goo.gl/3qjup Thanks for your time.

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  29. Athina, there are a number of reasons why many book blogs have given up on reviewing independently published books. Some of the offerings are poorly written. Some writers send pitches without reading the blog's guidelines first. And some authors hound reviewers for a quick response when they should wait patiently after transmitting a query.

    Here's my advice: find newer blogs that are seeking books to review. In Google, type: book blogs, YOUR GENRE. You might also check GoodReads for the names of quality reviewers.

    Btw, I tried following your link but it returned to this blog.

    Good luck with your books!

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