If you are an author struggling with how to get book reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, and other social media, I have some great advice for you, as a book blogger and Bookstagrammer who has received a LOT of pitches. I have also successfully pitched myself and appeared on places like The Today Show and Buzzfeed.
Quite honestly, most of the pitches I receive are really bad, and oftentimes they come from very smart people! I'm here to help you *NOT* be one of those people and to hear "yes" more often.
So, I'm going to tell you exactly what has worked for me on the receiving end of pitches by providing my do's and dont's of pitching your book for review on social media. This is exactly what makes me scream, "Yes!" or utter, "Sorry, but no!" So, you get an inside look into what really connects with a blogger or Bookstagrammer.
From your perspective, I understand that giving away your book can be really hard to do after you've worked on it for a long time, and so is taking these extra marketing steps that cost your time and/or money. But, I challenge you to think of your book like any other product that requires these steps in order to flourish.
While I am not an author, I do still assure you that writing my blog is only about one-third of the time I spend at work on growing it. The rest is everything from marketing to social media, accounting, photography and graphic design, customer service, continuing education, IT, and so on. I work overtime, weekends, holidays... you name it.
If you're struggling to get more book reviews for your book, it will take work, like anything else, and I do think it can help to put yourself in the shoes of a reviewer.
From our perspective as reviewers, agreeing to do an extra book review takes a lot of time: reading the book, writing the review, creating and editing images and/or video for the review, and engaging with our audiences on a daily basis to grow and maintain our communities.
Even though we love reading, one extra book review may mean saying "no" to other paid work, missing out on free time with family, etc. Plus, we get pitches all the time, so it's impossible to say "yes" to everyone. It can be really overwhelming.
With that being said, below is exactly how to get book reviews from the perspective of a book reviewer.
These are my do's and dont's for pitching your book for review on Amazon, GoodReads and other social media, with a focus on the "do's" (because I prefer to be positive!)
How to Ask for Book Reviews
DO get our names right.
I can't tell you HOW MANY pitches mess up my name and/or use my full name (which feels so inauthentic and spammy). It's almost always a "no" from me when that happens, no matter what comes next in the pitch.
DO be clear.
Speaking of spam, I get so many vague pitches that are so confusing to me who you are and what you are looking for. When you couple this with all the spam I receive, you may get deleted in my initial review of my emails if you aren't really clear. I shouldn't read a subject line and/or pitch and still feel unsure what the email is about.
Think super basic: who, what, where, when, why. And be sure to include any necessary links or attachments. I shouldn't have to go to Google to try to figure out where I can find your book, etc.
DO make genuine personal connections.
The authors I support most fervently are those with whom I have made the most personal connections. This involves finding some common ground with book reviewers and discussing it genuinely!
On the contrary, I can always tell when someone just scanned my website for a quick bullet point to mention to make it seem they were interested in my work.
DO share your strongest points.
Believe it or not, I have gotten pitches for books that never mentioned they were already bestsellers, featured on national tv, recommended by famous people, etc.! These are major selling points, and you shouldn't be shy about them. It gives you credibility.
If you don't have such accolades, that's ok -- things like diverse points of view, charitable causes, military service, etc., can help you turn a "no" into a "yes." Your unique characteristics are your best assets. Use them to connect with others on a human level.
But on the contrary, begging for help for any reason can come across as a huge turnoff.
Your book is like any other product out there, and how you talk about it makes a huge difference. Imagine watching a tv commercial in which you were begged to buy a product vs. shown all of its greatest benefits!
Even if someone says "yes" to a "begging" pitch, they will probably be approaching it from a place of making a sacrifice for you versus genuine excitement for your book. And that may show in the promotion of the book.
DO support our work.
I take notice when an author genuinely supports me versus when they appear to be blindly pitching a bunch of reviewers. If someone writes that they "love my page" but they don't actually follow me, it feels like a lie, and I feel like my very limited free time is being taken advantage of. It feels so much easier to support someone's work when our own work is supported in return.
Although for most people, book reviews and social media are a hobby, it's still something that people spend hours on every day to grow and maintain, and agreeing to take on even one book review is a 5-10 hour commitment.
DO be polite and courteous.
I don't think I ever personally received an intentionally "mean" email from an author, but I can tell you that word does travel fast in the book-reviewing community, and certain authors have gotten months of backlash and/or even "cancellation" for rude or off-the-cuff comments to book reviewers. As frustrated as you may feel, it's really not worth it!
I can also tell you how many seemingly "nice" emails still really exceed boundaries on a daily basis: repeated emails, not saying "thank you," asking for more help after I already gave hours of work, the list goes on... It all makes me feel really terrible, to be honest. And, I'm guessing you don't want someone feeling terrible about you and your book when promoting it.
I know you have to work really hard to publish and promote your book, but please also remember we are also really busy people who aren't getting paid to take time to promote your work. And in my case as a full-time blogger, I am paying all the costs associated with running the blog you seek to use for promotion.
Even if someone declines your pitch, thank them anyway and leave the door open for the future and/or pitch them back a smaller ask: i.e., you can ask them to stay in touch on social media or to recommend another reviewer to whom you should reach out next. (As a bonus, you can then tell your next pitch their friend sent you!)
I personally think it's just always nicer to leave any pitch on a more positive or open-ended note, and this strategy may leave you with something gained rather than nothing at all.
In fact, I know one blogger who often jumps back in and helps those who thank her for her consideration, as she knows these people aren't just using her. And, I think there's truth to this.
DO seek permission before you add book reviewers to your email list.
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. It is both impolite and illegal to just add a book reviewer to your email list! This happens to me all the time, and I ALWAYS unsubscribe and report it as spam. We all know how it feels to get emails for which we didn't sign up, and it's not good.
I think it's totally cool to say to someone with whom you have connected: "If you want to keep tabs on my new book, subscribe to my email list," to try to get some leads. But, it's NOT ok to just add someone to your list. And I really don't think it will help you get any more book reviews at the end of the day.
DO be brief.
Everyone gets A LOT of emails every day and, for most book reviewers, this isn't their full-time job. When I receive an email with a few carefully crafted sentences and strategically placed links, I read the whole thing. When I receive a page or more of text, I may scan it for five seconds before I get overwhelmed and decline the pitch. And I can't tell you how many LONG pitches I receive!
Think of your pitch as an elevator pitch -- as if you only have the time spent in an elevator with someone to pitch it.
If you then want to link to your author bio or a full plot summary, that's cool, but large blocks of text in an email are really overwhelming and thus, not a persuasive way to obtain more book reviews.
DO use good grammar.
I get a lot of book review pitches with REALLY bad grammar. I don't mean an occasional misstep. I mean the overall lack of grammar is so bad that I assume it's spam and/or that the book being pitched is poorly written too, and I just delete it. We all make mistakes, but really poor grammar may really hinder your efforts to get more book reviews.
DO consider whether to work with a PR agency and/or how to work with them.
Others may disagree with me on this one (especially PR agencies!), but I'm going to throw this out there anyway. I personally do not like it when a PR agency contacts me for a book review on behalf of an author.
Why? Because I find it unfair that they get paid for working on the promotion of a book but I do not. I know it can seem that people who have large internet communities are just lucky, but I can tell you that nothing is further from the truth.
I have poured thousands of dollars and hours into my website and its growth and success, so, while not everyone has a huge marketing budget, if there's a budget for a PR agency, I would (quite honestly) like for there to be a budget for my time and expertise too.
DO find the right reviewer for your book.
While it takes extra time to find the right reviewers for your book, I think it's worth it. They are more likely to read and review your book, and to like it!
For example, a lot of "big" Bookstagrammers get dozens of books sent to them each week. Instead, try searching for favorable reviews of books like yours, relevant hashtags and/or reviewers in the same location as your book. (Many of us have larger followings in our places of residence, and people like to read "local" books.")
DO reach out to warm leads.
If someone writes you a favorable review on Instagram or the like, why not ask them to copy and paste it onto Amazon and GoodReads?! It only takes a few minutes for the book reviewer at that point, and you already know the review is a favorable one.
I see this as one of the most underrated ways how to get more book reviews since I don't really see authors doing it and it's so likely to end with a favorable result.
DO offer me a real book.
This recommendation can totally depend on the reviewer, but my experience is that most reviewers really do prefer a physical copy of the book. I'm on a computer of some sort anywhere from 10-14 hours a day, and so I will almost always turn down an electronic copy of a book. I already have dry eyes, and I just cannot look at a screen any longer than this.
I know it's cheaper and easier for you to send e-copies, but it can also definitely make our job harder. And if you really want to hear "yes" more often from book reviewers, it's all about making it easy for someone to review your book.
DO give before you take.
I saved this recommendation on how to get more book reviews for last because I find it to be one of the best pieces of advice for ANY kind of networking.
I have NEVER EVER EVER received a pitch that said, "How can I help you?" before or in addition to asking for my help.
I know your book is your baby and it already feels like a lot to give it away, but it also feels like a lot on our end to take on the extra work of reviewing and promoting it.
I start ALL my pitches by asking how I can help the person and/or I try to provide some sort of added value to them first. Then, I also try to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes to my ask.
I've even spent hours crafting something unique for a specific person I was pitching before making my pitch. But, guess what... it worked, and my blog received national media attention as a result.
A pitch that begins with something like, "Can I share your [blog post, social media graphic, etc.]?" is so much more likely to later result in a favorable response to your request for a book review than a pitch that begins, "Can you read and review a 400-page book for me?"
I KNOW your book is something you worked really, really hard on, and giving it away in exchange for a review may feel like an equal exchange, but it's also just a lot of time on our end to commit to a review. I get most of my books at the library and, thus they are always free to me, but with no added commitments.
I can go on about this type of networking forever, but instead, I'll just link to the networking advice of blogger Jess Keys which really hammered home this point for me and forever changed the way I look at networking and making it as easy as possible for the other person to help you out.
I hope you have now learned several ways how to get more book reviews from the perspective of a book reviewer who sees a lot of pitches.
(Please note that I personally am no longer taking on unpaid book review and/or promotion requests for a variety of reasons, including the volume of requests I receive, but rather I share these tips with you based on my education and experience so that I can still help you by "teaching you how to fish" on your own.)
Related post: If you liked this post, you will also love my post on how to promote your book on social media.
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