Heather Hart is an international bestselling and award-winning author. She coaches to authors at TrainingAuthors.com. With the heart of an author, she enjoys working from home where she spends her time working on her next book, coming up with new and improved marketing ideas, and teaching other authors what she has learned along her journey to becoming a bestseller.
Heather has always been a writer. She wrote stories as a child. She began publishing books in 2009 with a co-author. She hasn’t slowed down since then.
Heather never expected to actually become a published author. After her twins were born, Heather had 4 children at home under 5 years old, and she couldn’t afford daycare. That’s when she began volunteering and met a fellow volunteer who was already a published author. They formed a partnership, and things have been going strong ever since.
How to Get Reviews for Your Books on Amazon and Goodreads
“The best thing I’ve ever found to get book reviews is to start an email list for book reviewers, so you can email them whenever you have a new book. As soon as we started our list, it transformed the number of reviews we were getting on our books.” – Heather Hart
It’s important to have a dedicated email list just for people who review your books.
She was very clear about what she expected from reviewers in the exchange for a free review copy. In order to receive a review copy her subscriber had to agree to review her book on Amazon and Goodreads. They could also choose to review her book on their blog if they had one.
Her subscribers have to put an FTC disclaimer in their review letting people know that they received a free review copy for their honest review.
Heather makes a point to send the free review copy in the preferred file choice of the recipient.
Bookfunnel.com offers an inexpensive service that takes care of sending your book file in the recipient’s preferred file choice.
In the email where Heather delivers the e-book file she lets the reviewer know what her timeframe is.
Often what she’ll do is publish the book on Amazon about 2 weeks before she markets the book. This allows her review team to post reviews on Amazon before she markets the book.
Pro tip: Label your Advanced Review Copy (ARC) file appropriately so your readers know not to judge you for spelling mistakes and/or plot problems you’re working out before publication. This way you can start getting reviews before publication.
Heather usually sends out her Advanced Review Copy to reviewers at the same time she sends out a copy of her book to her final proofreader.
If Heather sends out a review copy before the book is launched on, Amazon she tells them when the book will be live on Amazon and sends them a link to the book when it is live.
How Heather promotes a book depends on the channel she’s using to sell her book.
She has a lot of books in KDP select. She uses KDP select because she likes making use of the free days, and she also likes to use Kindle Countdown Deals.
She also has several books published with wide distribution on every major e-book platform. For those books Heather uploads them to Amazon first, and then pushes them to Smashwords, which distributes them to all the other major online outlets. She emails Smashwords coupons to reviewers so they can get the book for free.
Tips on Generating More Reviews for Your Books
- If you have an email list, simply send an email and say, “If you’ve read this book please consider leaving a review.” At the end of the email add a link to the book you want to get reviews for.
- Insert a page at the end of your book before your author bio asking people to review that book if they like it.
- You can also put that link in a paperback book as a tangible reminder to go review the book online.
- There are groups on Facebook where people are looking for free review copies. You can check those Facebook groups to find reviewers.
- If you’re in KDP select you can post to those Facebook groups on your KDP select free days, and tell people they can get the book for free and you’d appreciate an honest review.
Don’t Ask Your Friends and Family for a Review
- Your friends and family may not be your target audience. They probably read books outside your genre, so they’re unlikely to write a review that is of value to others.
- Just because they’re your friends and family doesn’t mean they want to read your book.
- Friends and family are more likely to review the author in their book review then the actual content of the book. This doesn’t help other readers in the marketplace, and it can actually turn off new readers from buying your book.
- Asking close friends and family is against the spirit of Amazon’s Terms of Service (TOS), and Amazon often deletes reviews from the author’s closest friends and family. For example, if your friends have been over to your house and used your wifi network before, Amazon will notice their account has been linked to our IP address, and their review for your book will be deleted. Amazon’s terms of service says the author can’t review the book, and no one can review the book on behalf of the author.
Amazon wants unbiased reviewers to give honest reviews.
How to Get Quality Feedback
There’s nothing you can do to directly influence a review of your work. But when you email your reviewers you can ask them specific questions about how they felt or what they learned from the book you published.
You can ask them questions like:
- What did you learn from this book? (Nonfiction)
- Who is your favorite character? (Fiction)
- What did you like best about the book? (Fiction/Nonfiction)
These questions will help spur their ideas and creativity when they go to write a review for your book.
Contact an Amazon Top Reviewer
You can contact Amazon’s top reviewers directly and see if they’d be interested in reviewing your book.
Before you contact an Amazon top reviewer, do your research. Make sure they like your type of book. You don’t want to waste your time or theirs sending them a book that they’re not going to like.
Dealing with One-Star Reviews
“Every good book has a one star review, and everyone is entitled to their opinion.” – Heather Hart
It’s important to see if there is constructive criticism in your one star or critical reviews. Constructive criticism can help make your book better.
If the review mentions a typo or something missing from the book, you can go back in and edit the interior of the book so that future readers won’t have that problem.
You can contact Amazon and have negative reviews removed if they are clearly fake or false. For example, if the reviewer says something like, “I expected a hardcover book and all I got was the e-book.” That is an unfair review that has nothing to do with the content of the book. That type of review should be removed by Amazon, and if you see a review like that on Amazon, you should always report it (click the “report review” button).
Every good book has some one star reviews. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone has over 1,000 one star reviews on Amazon, for example.
Heather has actually bought a book based on someone else’s negative review. Everything this person hated about the book is what she was looking for in a story.
Readers are intelligent people. They can tell when someone has an axe to grind, or when the reviews aren’t based on the content of the book. Just publish the best book you can, put it out there, and work on the next project.
The fact that you have a one star review doesn’t mean you’re a bad author. It means a reader with a different taste than yours read your book.
It’s perfectly reasonable to not ask for another review from someone who gave you a one star review.
Use Reviews as Key Insight
It’s a good idea to look at the reviews of other books like yours and see what readers liked and didn’t like about their books.
If a lot of reviews say something is missing from a book you’re looking at, can you add that into your book?
If a lot of reviews say people like a certain aspect of a book can you include that aspect in your book?
Amazon’s Kindle app will show you how many times people have highlighted a certain passage. You can actually use that information in your book by quoting that author.
Authors Are in Co-opetition
Authors aren’t in competition. They are in co-opeition. Authors don’t compete for readers. Readers read many more books than writers can write. Authors share audiences.
You can contact authors in your niche and ask them to review your book.
They can’t review your book on Amazon, but they can write a testimonial for your book that you can put on the cover of a paperback version, or in the editorial section of your Amazon author page.
This puts your book next to a well-known name in your niche. Building relationships with other authors in your niche is one of the best ways you can grow your audience and your business as an indie author.
Build Relationships with Other Authors in Your Niche by Adding Value
There are many different ways to nurture your relationships with other authors.
- Guest blog on their website.
- Ask them to guest blog on your website.
- Get into a Facebook group with other authors who are similar to you.
The best Facebook groups aren’t all about promotion. They’re about building a community of authors who help each other.
In these Facebook groups you can get honest feedback about things like book covers and book descriptions.
The more you connect with authors in your niche, the more opportunities to market to their readers will naturally occur.
Avoid groups that are entirely promotional. Only join groups where genuine communication takes place between members.
You can find a list of great free Facebook groups for authors here.
You can also organize a Facebook event where a group of authors from the same genre price their books at $.99 and spend the day on Facebook promoting their books and connecting with their readers via Facebook.
People mentioned in this interview
Joanna Penn coined the term co-opetition.
The first chicken soup for the soul edited by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen book was rejected 15 times before being published in the marketplace.
Links and resources mentioned in this interview
http://www.trainingauthors.com/speaking/heather-hart/thanks-listening/– here you’ll find links to everything Heather mentioned on the show. She also has additional resources listed on this page.
http://www.trafficwave.net/ – a flat fee autoresponder. For a low monthly fee you can have unlimited email lists and unlimited subscribers.
Amazon Top Reviewers (Remember to make sure the reviewer actually reads books in your genre / niche before you send them a review copy, or you just might get some nasty 1-star reviews!)
Bookfunnel.com – check out book funnel. They specialize in delivering e-books in all major formats. They interface directly with the customer so you can spend more time writing books.
If you’re just starting out as an author, or you want to learn how to build your author platform and sell more books without a huge marketing budget to check out my free training at ebookpublishingschool.com
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.