Struggling to get reviews for your book?
Are you getting sick of begging and pleading for family members, friends, and fellow authors to leave you reviews?
In this article, I’m going to show you how to get unbiased, high-quality reviews and testimonials for your book—no begging required.
To get great book reviews, you have to start with the right mindset.
Focus on Giving, Not Taking
There’s nothing wrong with asking yourself, “How can I get more reviews?” But this question alone is leaving out the fact that if you want to get something, you must first give something. And as you’ll find out, I’m not simply talking about review swaps.
So what do you need to give in order to get great reviews?
For starters, you need to give great quality content in your book. Ask yourself, “Would people recommend this to their friends?”
If the answer is no, then expecting people to leave five star reviews is essentially asking them to lie.
Hopefully, this should be obvious, and I’m assuming you already know the importance of having a great book, so let’s consider another reason why people may love your book and not review it.
How to Ask for a Book Review
If you find your request for reviews goes unfulfilled, it could be because you haven’t given a clear reason why someone should post a review. And more importantly, you haven’t given a reader a reason to write a review that applies to them.
Imagine someone comes up to you and says:
“Hey you! Go take 5-10 minutes of your time and write a review so I can sell more copies of my book!”
Doesn’t that come across as a little selfish? Even if you’re happy to oblige because you’re a very generous person, might you be wondering, “Why should I help you?”
Now imagine someone says:
“If you enjoyed my book, it would be greatly appreciated if you left a review so others can receive the same benefits you have. Your review will help me see what is and isn’t working so I can better serve you and all my other readers even more.”
Why This Book Review Script Works
Let’s break down why something along these lines is much more likely to get positive results.
First of all, saying “if you enjoyed” gives people a condition that respects their personal opinion. Whenever people ask me to leave a five-star review of their book before I’ve even read it, I’m instantly turned off because they’re not respecting that I may not consider it to be a five-star book.
On a side note, it’s also clear they’re not interested in genuine feedback about their book, but are simply wanting a good review. Successful people are open to all feedback – positive and negative. That honest feedback is part of how they became successful.
The next thing in the request is the phrase “it would be greatly appreciated.” This is a non-demanding way to let people know they don’t owe you anything. It also gives them recognition ahead of time. How likely are you to do favors for someone if you don’t feel like they’re going to appreciate you for it but rather just feel entitled to your generosity?
Following the request for a review is the phrase “so other readers can receive the same benefit as you.” The key word here is “so” which now directs the reader’s attention to a clear understanding of why leaving a review is a good thing to do. In this example, the reason why is to help other people.
The reader now sees how their review isn’t about helping you sell books (which isn’t what reviews are for anyway), but rather they see how their review is a chance to serve all readers at large by sharing their feelings about the book.
In the last sentence, the benefit is brought back to the reader by saying their review will help you as an author write even better books for them to enjoy. Now the reader realizes leaving a review will actually benefit themselves and not just the author.
Ask for Reviews Inside Your Book
In the back of my books, I have a review request page that links to my book on Amazon. I learned to do this from Tom Corson-Knowles in The Kindle Publishing Bible.
This gives people a reminder about leaving a review, it gives them an easy way to do it by providing a link directly to the book page, and finally, it gives them reasons why leaving a review is beneficial to them and others.
One of my fitness books says the following:
“The first way to pay it forward is by writing a review of this book to let others know of the benefits you’ve got from it. This will not only help others reach their health and fitness goals, but it is incredibly rewarding for me to know how much work has benefited others, as well as learning any ways I can improve…. This way you can help empower others in the way this [book] has empowered you.”
Notice how I keep the focus on others and the reader more than just what I get as an author from them leaving a review?
Whether you’re writing this in the back of your book, sending a private message to someone, or posting on your blog, it’s important to understand that the way you phrase your book review request goes a long way toward how people will respond to the request.
I also suggest you use your own words rather than following a script—just be sure to keep in alignment with the principles outlined here.
How to Get Better Quality Book Reviews
The shocking answer is that you can have a lot of great reviews and still not see any benefit. That’s because there are different types of reviews, and they’re not all created equal.
In my business and life, I’m a strong believer in quality being more important than quantity. My book 50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew became a #1 bestseller in the weight loss category (one of the most competitive categories on Amazon) when it had only 5 reviews (including a one star review!).
The one thing it did have was a really great review that fell into one of the two best types of review formats.
One GREAT book review will increase your sales more than dozens of weak ones.
What are the two best types of reviews to get?
They are what I call a “ideal reader” review and an “authority” review.
Ideal Reader Reviews
An ideal reader review is, if you couldn’t guess, a review coming from a person that closely matches the target demographic for a book.
If an author has a book written for busy professionals looking to get into meditation, which of the following reviews do you think is going to help increase sales the most?
“I loved this book!! It had many great tips that anyone would find valuable for learning about meditation. It was an easy read and I would recommend it to everyone.”
“I’ve known about the benefits of meditation for a while, but struggled to incorporate it into my life because of my crazy busy schedule. This book was a life saver because it showed me quick and simple meditations that I could fit into my hectic life. I especially love the 5 minute meditations that I started doing on my lunch break at work. I would recommend this book for anyone wanting to begin meditation, but who can’t find the 20 minutes at a time like other meditation books suggest.”
For a book that’s intended to be sold to busy people wanting to meditate, it’s obvious that the second review will resonate with those people far more than the first. They’ll think, “This reviewer is just like me! They have the same challenges and struggles I do, and since this book helped them, it will probably help me too.”
So how do you get genuine ideal reader reviews?
The first and most important way is to make sure you’re asking the right people for a review. In other words, don’t ask a 28 year old guy like myself to review a book on dealing with postmenopausal depression. If you think that’s a joke, the sad thing is it’s not too far off from the type of review requests I’ve received.
How can you do this if you’re just starting out?
How to Find Your Ideal readers
My favorite method is to create connections with other authorities in my niche, and leverage their audience. The simplest way to do this is with a guest blog posting that allows you to give valuable content, establish yourself as an expert, and drive traffic to your books from the people most interested in your topic.
To find popular blogs on your topic, I suggest doing a Google search for keywords in your niche and adding “blog” to your search query.
The second way, which is a more long term strategy, is to build up a list of targeted readers in your niche. I’m always building lists from my blog, guest blog posts, and my kindle books. I offer my subscribers valuable insights and tips on an ongoing basis. Then, when I have a new book I release, there are usually a handful of regular readers and reviewers who jump on board to check it out.
Build Your Book Reviewer List
If you have any die-hard fans and great reviewers that you pick up over a period of time, be sure to contact them directly before your new book is released to send them a free copy of it.
Don’t make this conditional on them leaving a review. Rather, offer it to them simply as a thanks for being such a loyal fan.
The natural byproduct of this is that you’ll often get reviews from them anyway, and they’ll be even more grateful for your work.
Get Reviews from Facebook Groups
There are a number of Facebook groups out there that let authors promote their books. A couple years ago, these groups tended to be a closer knit group of people that really worked to support each other. Nowadays however, many of them tend to be saturated with authors all trying to self-promote.
That doesn’t mean shouldn’t join these groups and share your books whenever they’re free, but have realistic expectations that your results may be hit or miss.
The upside is that they’re free to join and you can often paste a simple message about your book in a number of these groups in a matter of minutes.
One group worth checking out can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/reviewseekers/
We also have a list of Facebook groups for authors.
Private Publishing Masterminds
Private masterminds are groups and networks that are exclusive to customers of various kindle related publishing products and trainings. Because these groups are often smaller and have more passionate members, you’ll notice the people in them are much more likely to help you out by reading your book and posting a review.
Amazon Top Reviewers
Another way to get quick book reviews is by reaching out to Amazon’s top reviewers. Using this method, I was able to get a top Amazon reviewer to post a review to one of my books in under 24 hours!
You want to find reviewers interested in similar books as your own. The first step in doing this is to find some of the top rated books in your niche. You can do this by typing in a keyword related to your book and then sorting by “Avg. Customer Review.” Browse through the reviews and see if there are any reviewers with “Hall Of Fame” or “Top XYZ Reviewer” posted next to their name.
Next, click on the reviewer’s name and see if they have provided contact details such as an email or website. Some may even specify if they have a preferred method of contacting them for book reviews.
Finally, send them an email asking them if they’d be willing to review your book. Since these are top reviewers, they’ll likely get requests like this often and typically are open to it. That being said, you may need to reach out to several before you find someone who is available to review your book in a timely manner.
Here is a sample email template based off of what I’ve had success with:
Hey (Insert reviewer’s name),
My name is (insert your name), and I noticed you reviewed the book (Insert book title they reviewed). I have written a similar book about (insert brief description).
Would you be willing to let me provide you with a copy of the book in
hopes that you would consider reviewing this book as well?
The book I want to send is called “(insert book title)”
(insert one sentence about why you wrote the book).
You can find it on Amazon at: (Insert Amazon Link)
I can provide it to you as a digital file or if you wish I can even
send you a printed copy. It’s up to you.
Of course, you have no obligation to review my book, and if you do review it, you can leave a good, or a bad review.
Thank you. I look forward to your response.
Book Review Software
You can use book review software to create a list of reviewers that have reviewed books similar to yours on Amazon and on other websites like Goodreads.
Once you’ve build your list of potential reviewers with the software, you can then send them an email or message on their website and offer to provide a free review copy of your book.
This process can take some time, but you can get dozens of reviews if you have a promising book that appeals to your list of reviewers.
How to Get Authority Reviews
Authority reviews can be reviews from experts on a subject, reviews from librarians who are avid readers, or reviews from an established book review website.
We look to experts to help us make decisions because we believe they know better than we do. A review from an authority gives you a huge boost in credibility—especially if you’re an up-and-coming “no name” author. If you’re writing a book on health and fitness, and you’re not a doctor, you can significantly enhance your credibility by having a review or testimonial from a doctor. If you’re writing a romance book, having a review from a top romance book blogger would also be considered an authority review.
The challenge in getting authority reviews is that authorities are often busy, and if you don’t have a prior relationship with them, it can be difficult for them to take their time to help you out. However, is this really a problem? By now you should know if you’re following the principle of giving rather than getting. Your attention needs to be on how you can help them out, rather than how they can help you out.
If you already have a close relationship with the authority, it doesn’t hurt to ask a favor in the form of a review or testimonial. For everyone else though, I recommend going in with a “how can I serve this person?” attitude. I’ve condensed this whole process down to 4 Cs that will grab their attention, create a genuine connection, and then inspire them to want to check out what you’re doing.
Step 1: Compliment
The best way to start an introduction, either via email or in person, is with a genuine compliment about what this person does. Be sure to include specific details about what you appreciate about them and/or admire about them.
Let’s say you’re writing a book on becoming a happier person, and are reaching out to an authority on depression. You’d want something like, “I read your article on battling depression, and what you said about the types of questions we ask ourselves really hit home. It has helped me become a much happier person. I find your work to be inspiring. I want to thank you for making my life and those of so many others more fulfilling.”
The compliment gets their attention and helps them see why you’ve chosen to reach out to them vs. all the other authorities on the topic. The key here is to not blow smoke, but to make sure the compliment is genuine.
Step 2: Connection
The next step is to establish a connection where the authority can see how both of you are similar in some respect. This can even be done with something as simple as noticing you’re both from the same hometown, have the same hobby, or know the same person. In the case of book reviews, it’s best to stick with the fact that both of your have an interest in the same topic.
Using the book on happiness as an example, the author could state, “I’m a self-help author who is helping empower people to overcome depression and to live a more enriching life like you.”
Using another example of reaching out to an authority-review blog, one could state something like, “As a romance book fan and writer, I wanted to connect with you because we both share a passion for romance novels.”
No matter how you phrase it, you want to leave the person you’re connecting with feeling like both of you are just like each other in some respect. Use your own words to avoid sounding contrived.
Step 3: Contribution
The third step is to offer them something of value. Many times when I reach out to someone, I literally have no idea if, when, or how this person could ever help me out. Instead, I find some way to enrich their lives. If it just so happens down the road they do something for me, then great. The contribution is done with no string attached. Another way of looking at this is that it’s not about “give and take” but “give and receive.”
If you’re offering them a free copy of your book with the hopes they’ll review it, you don’t make your offer conditional on them giving you something in return (a review). Rather, you offer them a free copy simply because you believe they and/or their followers will enjoy it. Let them know this!
Notice the difference between these two requests:
“I have a book on happiness in which I talk about the best ways to overcome depression. I am looking for honest reviews. If you are interested, I’ll send you a copy.”
“I have a book to help people become happier and overcome their depression. Inside the book, I have recommended your website as a great resource, as I consider you to be one of the foremost authorities on the topic. To thank you for all your great work, I’d be more than happy to send you a copy, if you’re interested. If you have the time to offer me any feedback, it would be an honor to learn how I can improve this book to help even more people overcome depression.
The first approach isn’t “bad,” but it’s making a big request for this authority to take hours of their time to check out a book and leave a review when they don’t even know the author at all.
The second approach is better for a couple reasons. First of all, the focus is on helping people overcome depression and not on the author getting a review. This is something both the author and authority can relate to. If you can position yourself and your book as benefitting the authority’s followers, then you’re doing them a favor by giving them a valuable resource they’ll get to recommend. The difference in attitude is “share this with your fans to help me” which is usually a turn-off VS. “share this with your fans to help them” which is appealing.
The second reason this approach works is because the author has already done something for the authority – that is, recommending the authority’s website in the book. The big thing here is that this is done with no strings attached.
The third reason this approach is better is because you’re not asking for an honest review, but rather honest feedback. Is there a difference? Yes, the simple shift in wording implies that they don’t have to go on Amazon to leave a review, but rather can give you their candid thoughts any way they want. If they check out your book and leave you positive feedback in a private message, then you can let them know a positive review posted on Amazon would be appreciated.
Step 4: Curiosity
This last step could be considered optional, but I think it’s very helpful to incorporate. This is where you add something to your email to make them more curious about you and your work.
For instance, if something was included in the message for the book on happiness like…
“In my book, I share one thing that took me years of research to finally uncover, which turned out to be the missing link for many people to finally overcome depression. I haven’t ever heard you talk about this, so I’m not sure if you’ve even heard of it. I’d love to know your thoughts.…”
Then you can bet that the person reading that email will be very curious as to what that one thing is. This works even better on authorities who often think they’ve “seen it all,” but may in fact be missing something.
Another example is…
“I know you review a lot of thriller books on your blog, but I’m not sure you’ve seen anything like what’s in this book. I don’t want to spoil the surprise though.…”
Curiosity is one of the most powerful triggers you can use to get a person’s attention and encourage them to take action. Just think about how people will watch TV shows week after week when they’re left with a cliffhanger after each episode.
How to Manage Bad Reviews
If you don’t have any bad reviews on your books, then you probably haven’t sold very many books. Bad reviews are simply one of those things that comes with success. ALL of the most popular books get bad reviews simply because you can’t please everyone.
One thing to keep in mind about bad reviews is that if you’re pushing the envelope with your message, a certain percentage of people are going to hate it. In the non-fiction arena, a simple difference in how people learn can mean some people love the way the information is presented, and others hate it. The only way to avoid bad reviews is to be overly bland and “safe” with your books in hopes not to offend anyone. The problem with that is you probably won’t have too many people love your book either! Instead, go in with the attitude that “this is my message and I’m proud of it!” and let the cards fall where they may.
So what do you do if you do get a bad review? While Amazon lets you comment on reviews, ask yourself if you really need to. People expect to see the occasional bad review. If you comment on every bad review trying to explain why you’re right, it can just make you look defensive. Also ask yourself if they have a point. I might not agree that a book should be 1-star simply because it has a few spelling and grammar errors, but I can certainty get the hint that hiring an editor can be useful.
If you are going to comment on a review, I would have these suggestions:
- NEVER attack the reviewer no matter how wrong they may be. If anything, thank them for taking the time to leave a review and provide you feedback.
- Focus on the book and the material itself, and keep it objective.
- Utilize the honest feedback method.
For instance, I had a person say one of my books was not helpful at all. My response was to thank them for leaving the review, point out some things in the book that they could find helpful, and then said “I would love to hear what you would have liked to know that wasn’t provided in the book to help even more people. Thanks!”
While this wasn’t phrased as a question, it’s essentially asking them for how I could make the book better. Although the reviewer never responded, the positive votes my comment got indicates people found my non-defensive and open-minded welcoming of feedback was appreciated.
If a person is downright lying about something or misleading people, it may be prudent to clarify something in a comment, but once again NEVER attack the reviewer.
If you find a bad review is hurting your sales, realize a few things. One is that sales can go up and down sporadically, and it may not be the review itself hurting sales. I also had a #1 bestselling book with only five reviews, including a 1-star, so a bad review doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Finally, the best way to fight against bad reviews is to get more good reviews. If you’re thinking about this in the long-term, what does one, two, or even five bad reviews matter if you have over fifty glowing reviews?
Remember that successful people embrace all feedback, good and bad. It’s your job to help guide people to provide you feedback in the way that most benefits you. If someone simply wants to bad-mouth your work, then let them be, and focus on delivering even more value to your avid fans whose voices can outshine the detractors.
What to Do If You’re Still Not Getting Reviews
You’ve learned the importance of getting the right quality of reviews, how to handle poor reviews, and simple methods of getting reviews for your book quickly.
Keep in mind that the responses you get for reviewing your book will be in proportion to how appealing you book is. That means if you have a poor quality cover, title, and description, you may not find too many people who wish to review your book.
If you get a lackluster response to review requests, consider that these factors may need to be addressed.
Finally, it’s important to remember that seeking out reviews for you book is a relatively minor detail in terms of what’s going to ultimately lead to massive success: building a fan-base through publishing a high quality book and cultivating a quality relationship with your readers.
Once you’ve done this, you’ll always have a large pool of people ready and willing to leave you with honest reviews the moment you publish your next book.