reviewYou’ve written the book, had it professionally edited, a cover designed, and formatted for print and e-book versions. You’ve built your social media platform (website/blog, guest posts, Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

Your book just released. You’ve told your family and friends, and if you used services from a company like Midnight Publishing to format, edit and help you self-publish your book, your book is being promoted via social media and on the company web site. You keep refreshing your Amazon page every two seconds to see if your book’s rank has increased. And you keep checking for that vital piece of validation, that mystical piece of Amazon’s algorithm that gets your book in front of new readers’ eyes, or better yet, recommended for other readers’ based on the other books they’ve bought—REVIEWS.

The one piece you haven’t thought about, and can’t really control, is what others do when it comes to your book. This can be frustrating and disheartening, especially because it’s so important—nay, one of the most important things—regarding your book’s success.

Reviews help others to know whether your book is worth purchasing and reading, and they also increase the “activity” of your book’s page, so that search engines and online retailers recognize that it is a popular page, and show it more often to potential buyers, which in turn may increase its popularity even more—it’s a wonderful cycle to get into. But how? Here are five ways to get reviews for your self-published book (or even traditionally-published, because these days they expect authors to do their own marketing unless their first name starts with Stephen and ends with…well, you get the idea).

1) Increase your mailing list subscribers and notify them that the book is live and ready for review.

Since I started writing seriously, the main thing I gleaned over my time researching social media was this: blogs are great, and growing a fan base there can be beneficial, but they’re not where you should put your energy. Where you should is with a mailing list/newsletter, because you are sending a message straight to someone’s inbox. There’s a much higher chance that they will open the email and read what’s inside, especially because they’ve gone to the trouble of subscribing. So send out a newsletter when your book has gone live, imploring subscribers to read and review so that your book DOES gain legitimacy and access to new readers. Be honest with people, be upfront. Don’t beg, but tell them how important it is that they read and leave an honest review about the work. Set this up with MailChimp—it’s incredibly user-friendly and free.

2) Offer incentives to your readers in exchange for a review

A popular incentive to get readers to subscribe to your mailing list can be offering them a free e-book or even a print book if they do. Obviously this won’t work here (since they’ve already read the book in order to review it). You can offer them a gift card or other incentive however, such as the chance to be entered into a raffle for an Amazon gift card or other goodies if they leave a review. You can do this by hosting a Rafflecopter giveaway (use the free option) on your website, with the means for entering being that they’ve written a review. Those who enter give their email through Rafflecopter, and if they are selected you can email them for their address to send the gift. Obviously this is on “good faith” that they’ve actually left a review, but you can try to investigate for yourself and see if you can identify that person’s review before sending the gift.

3) Look online and offer to send free books to reviewers/book bloggers

One way to do this is to look online for popular book blogs, and especially those in your niche market. Is your book steampunk? Paranormal? Contemporary romance between those of the same gender? Look for blogs that are tailored to your specific genre and contact them to see if they’d be interested in a free book for an honest review. Make sure you know where they post them—some individuals post on their website only, while others state that they will also post their review on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. You want that review to go to as many places as possible.

4) Commission a company to review the book

For those who have the money, you can hire companies such as Xpresso Book Tours and others to schedule your book for a “blog tour,” in which case interested bloggers will “host” you on their site during your scheduled time (around your book’s release, normally) and will usually review your book and/or interview you. There are many different packages, for different prices. And if you want to spend the BIG bucks, then you can commission a reviewing company such as Kirkus Reviews to give their thoughts on your book. This is a prestigious option, and will cost you at least $425 for a standard review.

5) Ask your friends/family/readers via various means of communication.

Finally, you can ask those close to you to read and review out of the goodness of their hearts. Through Facebook, text messages/phone calls, and your website, you can ask those early supporters of your work to review the book and share it with others. Word-of-mouth is an extremely valuable, effective way of getting your book in front of new readers, and right now, when you’re just starting out, those who care about you and your success will be more than willing to help spread the word. You just have to ASK THEM.

There you go, five ways to get reviews for your book—feel free to leave your thoughts or any effective tips you’ve used in the past in the comments below.

Until next time, keep writing and keep dreaming!