Monday, March 12, 2012

Get Your Book Reviewed

Recently I’ve been inundated with mail from other writers asking, “How did you get so many great reviews for your novels?”

The answer is straightforward. All it takes is patience and elbow grease. Trust me—you can do this. And if you can’t afford the expense of a blog tour with a PR firm, this is a simple way to earn those much-deserved reviews.

Begin on Amazon. Find books similar to yours. A professional book reviewer will often list her full name on her review. She may also list the name of her book blog. Use either one for a Google search.

Once you’ve located the blog, read the Review Policy carefully. Follow the instructions on how to send a query. Put that information in an Excel or Word document with a contact and email address for the given reviewer.

Next, do a Google search of Book Blogs. Many directories are available. Yes, it takes time to scroll through the list, visit each site and read each Review Policy. Also note that some blogs don’t name the contact person in an About Me section. You’ll have to read through several posts to find the name of the reviewer who runs the blog.

Once again, add these names to your Excel or Word list.

If you use Twitter (and I think you’re crazy if you don’t) you’ll also bump into book reviewers. If a writer in your genre posts a review, pop over to the site and gather information. If a reviewer follows you, put her name in a Twitter List of potential reviewers. Use that list to add to your ever-growing Excel or Word list.

I’m a bit of a noob when it comes to software and still keep my reviewers in a Word document. I swear on a stack of pancakes that I’ll transfer the contacts to Excel once my life slows down, or hell freezes over. Anyway, I do find Word’s search function a great convenience now that I’ve released my second novel, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge  Many reviewers gave my debut, Treasure Me, high marks and asked that I contact them again with future novels. I keep their names in a list alphabetized by blog name, with room for updates. It looks something like this:

Betty’s Books Galore  Betty Thompson 4/5/11: sent Treasure Me query.  4/12/11: Betty asked for post on upcoming review. 4/16/11: post sent with art 
5/10/11 Review up on Betty’s blog & posted on Amazon and GR
2/28/12: contacted Betty to read pre-pub of Tree  3/1/12: Betty asked for post
3/5/12: post sent with art.  3/15/12: review up and reposted on Amazon & GR. Betty asked to read pre-pub of my next novel.

A note on your query email: I personalize each letter and mention the name of the blog. You want to build lasting relationships with the reviewers who fall in love with your books. They are dedicated bibliophiles who will help build your career if you treat them with the professionalism they deserve. I’ve had reviewers hand my book off to another reviewer if they’re under the weather and can’t review, and share private lists of blog sites they admire. One reviewer recently scheduled Tree promotions on five blogs in the U.S., Europe and Africa because we’ve struck up a warm friendship.

By the way, I keep reviewers in a Twitter List I check weekly. If they’ve posted a new review, I re-tweet the post. If they’re running a promotion for another author, I put the word out on FaceBook, Google+ and other media sites. Do the same for the bloggers who kindly review your book.

A note on your query letter: If your book became a finalist or won an award in a contest, mention it early in your pitch. The pitch for my debut mentioned Publishers Weekly early on:

Dear (Name of Reviewer):

I hope you’ll be interested in reviewing my women’s fiction novel Treasure Me, which was a semi-finalist in the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. Publishers Weekly reviewed the manuscript and said, “Birdie Kaminsky, a beautiful blond bombshell of a con artist, has met her match in Hugh Schaeffer, an investigative reporter in this zesty novel rife with witty dialogue and well-drawn characters. Their catty romance and zany interactions filled with witty double entendres are gems.”

My query for Tree was shorter—book review sites appear increasingly buried in requests and I strove to be succinct:

Hi (Name of Reviewer):

Last year you kindly reviewed my debut novel, Treasure Me, which continues to earn 4- and 5-star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads and has now entered national contests. In mid-March I’ll release a more dramatic contemporary fiction novel, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge.

NAME, I hope you’ll consider reviewing Tree for NAME OF BLOG. The various eBook versions will be available in several days for transmission. The paperback version will be available in two weeks. You’ll find the short synopsis, below.

Many thanks in advance. I look forward to hearing from you.

Wishing you all the best,


About The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge:

A savage rape on hallowed ground. Secrets buried for decades by the town’s most influential family.

Now Ourania D’Andre will learn the Great Oak’s secrets as construction begins at the Fagan mansion. She can’t afford to turn down a job that promises to stir up the long-buried guilt—and the passion—she shares with powerful Troy Fagan.

She’s already juggling the most important job of her career with her new responsibilities as a foster mother for young Walt and Emma Korchek. And there’s a hard, older man on the construction crew with eyes void of emotion—cold and killing. The secrets of his brutal past will pose a grave threat to the children in her care. Will she find the courage to face him?

If you have questions after reading this post, please add a comment. I’ll try to address your concerns. And good luck!