This is one of the last installments of my “What is…” series, and similarly, it is the last step in the publication of a book. You probably already know what a book reviewer is on principle, but in this article, I’m going to add my own insights on the topic, as well as offer advice about where, when, why, and how to approach a reviewer about your book.
A book reviewer, in short, is someone who receives a copy of the book (usually free from the author), reads it, and leaves an honest review, thus adding to the book’s rank and rating. While yes, people who buy and read books for fun can also leave reviews, they are not considered “book reviewers” in the professional sense.
If you’ve written and published a book, and you want it to do well, you need book reviews. The reviews, for self-published authors, are mainly left—and most useful—on Amazon, and the purpose of them is to get people to buy your book. You see, Amazon is more of a search engine than a store, and its main interest is to sell items because it makes them more money. Because of this, lower-ranking books are less likely to come up when a customer uses search terms. The higher your book is ranked, the higher it will be on the list.
Book ranking is determined by different factors such as the number of books sold, the number of reviews and ratings, and the overall consensus of these ratings—all within a certain time period. As you can imagine, selling 1000 books in the first week of publication makes your book rank a lot higher than if it sells the same amount in an entire month or year. Frequency and speed are your best friends, especially when you first launch your book.
The launch is the most crucial time for your book. It is the time that you can hype your fans up for, a major event to build interest. This is also the best time to generate reviews through ARC readers [read more about ARC readers here]. ARC readers (Advanced Review Copy readers) are a subset of book reviewers; they receive the book before it is released and prepare their review for the day/week it is published, therefore guaranteeing a collection of reviews while the book is still hot. Their reviews are a “kickstart” of sorts and are a wonderful way to skyrocket your book to the top of the charts. A book that’s been available for three days and already has 30 great reviews is impressive, isn’t it?
As explained above, the best time to get reviews is when your book is still in the public’s eye, when you still have your fans’ attention. That’s not to say that you can’t get more reviews after the fact. More reviews are always welcome, and you can easily give your book a second wind with carefully timed publicity!
Another important thing to consider, though, is how long it will take for someone to read your book. A novella or short story can easily be read in a single day, but some longer novels take well over a few weeks for busy or slow readers. Make sure to give everyone you approach, ARC reader or general book reviewer, a decent amount of time.
Book reviews are typically written. You’ll find them on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and more. Most of the time they’re short and to the point, but a good reviewer will give more in-depth opinions and insights about the books they’re talking about.
You can also find video reviews. Book Youtubers are relatively new to me, but I know that many people out there stay up to date on the newest books and bestsellers from these internet personalities. I even find booktubers (as they’re called) to be more effective because of the energy and enthusiasm that readers pick up from them.
To contact, typically you can find an email address for requests on a website or on their channel.
The first thing you should know about approaching a book reviewer is that the service is free. In some places, it’s even illegal to pay for a review. This is because of an inherent bias—either the reviewer gives a more positive bias, or the client gets upset about paying for a bad review. To avoid these issues, the only form of payment for a review that can be exchanged is the product in question. The author sends a copy of their book, usually electronically, to the reviewer for free. In exchange, the reviewer reads it and responds with their honest opinion and rating (also posting the review online (their own website, Amazon, etc.).
The worst thing you can do is send a cold email to a reviewer. While it might work with some people, it’s actually better to build rapport with the reviewer beforehand, especially if they’re a booktuber. Why are you contacting them specifically? Do they enjoy books similar to yours?
My advice is to follow a booktuber for a while before reaching out to them, maybe a month or two. If you like their content, show your appreciation by liking, commenting, and subscribing. That way, when you email them about your book, you can tell them that you are a supporter of their channel, and immediately they’ll be more receptive to your request. After all, they are probably swamped, and their TBR lists are probably full. Why should they squeeze yours in if you’re just looking for an easy review?
Also, make sure you include all relevant information! Introduce yourself, share a bit about why you’re reaching out, then tell them about your book! They’ll have no idea whether they want to read it or not if they don’t know what it’s about. Include the cover image and the blurb. Ask if they are interested and if they have a format preference (different forms of electronic publication or, if you’re willing, you can offer a physical copy for them to show off as well).
Booktubers will definitely appreciate a physical copy of the book because they can use it as a prop in their video. However, it’s still a matter of whether you’re comfortable spending the money to send it out. Don’t worry, though! If you choose not to offer a physical book, a digital copy is usually enough.
As you can see from other posts I share on my website, I also offer book reviews for indie authors. Mixed in with my traditional TBR list is a waiting list of people who have sent me a book to read (either as an ARC reader or regular reviewer). If you would like a book review, email me with your request at tigerpetalpress[at]gmail[dot]com.
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