If you’ve self-published a book, you’re familiar with the thirst for reviews. You eagerly watch that Amazon review count tick upward, drinking in every new review. You read and re-read your reviews, and you sometimes even share your favorite quotes from the best ones. And you feel more validated in your authorship as more reviews appear on your Amazon book page.
But you might be neglecting another great review resource if you’re focusing solely on the reviews showing up on Amazon. The world of bloggers is a powerful promotional tool worth exploring as well.
Quite simply, because one of the absolute best ways to get the word out about your book is to get it reviewed. On Amazon, those reviews are localized to a single page. But if you get reviewed on blogs, suddenly you have buzz about your book all over the Internet!
Think of it this way: If you only have your Amazon page and an author website, you’ll end up with two possible results if somebody Googles for a new read in your genre. On the other hand, if a bunch of bloggers have reviewed your book, you now have that many more chances of showing up on a Google search for books like yours.
Plus, you’ve got the added bonus of each blogger spreading the word to his or her own audience. You don’t just get additional results that could show up in Google searches; you get exposure for your book to a new set of potential buyers with each and every review.
Let’s lay down a couple of guidelines for seeking out bloggers who want to review your book:
- Never pay a blogger for a review. That’s bribery and against Amazon’s terms of service. (Exception: Review services that you pay to distribute your book to reviewers are okay. It’s also okay to pay for an editorial review, which is something else entirely.)
- Don’t ask bloggers who aren’t interested. We’ll get into how to tell if they want to review books in a minute, but for now, just don’t ask people who don’t have a sign up asking for it.
Now that we have our rules in place, we can start looking for reviewers.
When you think about the vast number of blogs out there, it seems like an impossible task to find even one that will be interested in reviewing your book. You might think about Googling for book review blogs, but there’s a better way. There are several great directories of book review blogs that can make the search process easier. Here are four that I’ve used:
To most effectively use these lists, you’re going to need to know your genre. Unfortunately, most of our clever mashups don’t work here. You know, we authors love to say we write “epic fantasy” or “dark sci-fi” or maybe “urban romance,” but for this application you’ll want to start by boiling it down to simply fantasy, science fiction, romance, etc.
Let’s dive into finding a blogger who will be eager to review your book. Each of the blogger directories above is a little bit different, with the key standout being Book Reviewer Yellow Pages because it doesn’t have a search function. But it’s also probably the best list of the bunch, since it’s updated yearly and published in book form. Because it’s one of the best, you’ll want to learn how to navigate the list.
Hopefully, your web browser has a search function, because the best way to tame Book Reviewer Yellow Pages is to call up your browser’s in-page search (usually Control-F on Windows or Command-F on Mac) and enter your genre. Your web browser will then jump you to the entries that are relevant to you.
The other three sites all have a search box where you can type the genre your book belongs to. Here’s a tip: If you can categorize your book into multiple genres, make sure you search for all of them.
Pretty much every reviewer on these lists gives their preferred genres, so just look for bloggers who want what you’ve got. I like to find about twenty sites and open them in tabs to peruse later. Because I usually end up discarding half of the options, it’s worth finding a large pool to work from.
Evaluating a Potential Reviewer
When choosing a blogger to approach with a free review copy, you’ll want to look at their website with three things in mind:
First, you want to scroll through their reviews and see what they’re reading. They may list your genre on their profile in the directory, but are they really reviewing that type of book? Also, keep in mind that there are sub-genres, and this reviewer may only like certain types. For example, you might check out a reviewer who says she accepts urban fantasy, but when you look at her reviews, you find out that she only likes urban fantasy with paranormal romance elements. (You can also get an idea of this kind of thing by what banners or graphics the reviewer has used to decorate the blog.)
Second, look around for an indicator of the blogger’s following. Many people using Blogger have a widget somewhere in the sidebar showing how many people are following the blog. On a WordPress site, you might see a place in the sidebar where you can subscribe, which should also tell you how many people have already signed up. Another good resource is the blogger’s Twitter, Facebook, and other social media pages. You can visit those to see if the reviewer actively posts on social media, and how many followers they have. Remember, you’re going to send review requests to a lot of bloggers, so you might want to prioritize and contact the bigger ones first. Or you may have better results approaching somebody smaller the begin with because they may not yet be inundated with review requests.
And then finally, find the blogger’s review policy and follow it carefully. Most serious reviewers have this listed in the top navigation or in a link in the sidebar. You’ll see things here like how they want to be contacted, whether or not they’re open for review copies right now, if they accept self-published books, and if they will take e-books. I don’t contact a reviewer unless I can find a review policy page—the ones with a policy page are the ones who know what they’re doing.
Have you found a blogger who passes all three tests? Great! Save the link and find another. I like to make a big list of potential reviewers, then send all the request e-mails at once. When I’m ready to do a batch of review copies, I decide how many I can afford to send (if I’m going to mail out physical copies), then contact that many bloggers, starting with the ones highest in priority. If someone says no, I contact the next blogger on my list, and so on until all my review copies are spoken for.
That’s how you find reviewers who want to read your book. Next time, I’ll show you how to write a great e-mail requesting a review.