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The art of gathering valuable book reviews

Book reviews are crucial for the success of an author’s work. They’re so important that I’ve written about this topic before, though the focus of that post was on the differences between reader reviews and trade reviews. Reviews help a book gain exposure and visibility, as well as acting as a form of social proof and credibility for a writer. If the review is particularly constructive it can also be used to gather feedback and improve future writing. Reviews have a direct impact on rankings and algorithms and can help promote engagement with readers.



The power of having good book reviews cannot be understated. In the next section, I’ll describe different types of book reviews in more detail and later, I’ll describe what strategies can be used to obtain the most valuable forms of book reviews that will have a lasting impact on your book.


Types of Book Reviews


  • Professional/Literary: from newspapers, magazines, or literary journals

  • Reader: written or star reviews from everyday readers on retail sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

  • Blog: personalized and informal reviews from a blog associated with the book’s target audience

  • Social Media: reader-shared insights on platforms like X (Twitter), Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc.

  • Book Club: official or unofficial; may vary in format or medium

  • Endorsements: from other authors, celebrities, or field experts; usually featured on book’s promotional materials

  • Book Lists: via Goodreads “to read” list; not a traditional review but boosts interest and visibility

  • Awards: from prestigious literary awards and publishing organizations


Obtaining Valuable Book Reviews


While there are many different avenues for obtaining book reviews, not all reviews are created equal, and with a busy schedule, it’s important for authors to maximize their time and focus on reviews that will have the most influence on their book.


While prestigious literary awards, endorsements, and recognition from bloggers, book clubs, or professional publications can be a huge boost for your book, these types of book reviews have a limited reach and may require more effort and time to attain a single review.


This is why I encourage authors to create a website and start interacting with their target audience on at least one social media platform. There is a natural cumulative effect from using social media that I’ve seen play out with my own business. 


When you begin connecting with readers, they will (with time and regular engagement) turn into fans and naturally want to share about your book. This might be through personal reviews on their social media (thus, sharing with their audience and widening your audience), formal reviews on retail sites, reviews or adds to a “read list” on sites like Goodreads, as well as re-sharing your social media content.


To that end, focusing efforts on reader reviews will naturally lead to social media reviews. Both types of reviews contribute directly to the book review benefits listed in the first paragraph of this blog and directly correlate to sales of your book.


Steps to Take


There are two main times to gather reviews from readers: 1) pre-launch and 2) post-launch.


Pre-Launch


  1. Gather readers who would be interested in receiving an advance reader copy (ARC) of your book in return for an honest review. While sites like Amazon do not allow reviews of a product until the product launches, it is possible to set up your book to go live before the official launch date so you can start collecting reviews from those ARC readers. Sites like Goodreads, however, do allow reviews before the launch date, so setting up your book to appear there can be very helpful!

  2. Give ARC readers an idea of what elements you might like them to comment on or emphasize in their review. You could even provide a bullet point list of main plot points or elements of the book you want to remind readers of as they review.

  3. Follow up with readers, reminding them to leave a review once the book has launched.

  4. Besides ARC readers, consider putting together a street team or a group of your biggest fans (though they might be interested, ARC readers may not necessarily be your biggest fans) to shout about your book on social media and retail sites before or on launch day. 


ARC readers receive your book for free in return for an honest review. They may or may not leave a positive review. While negative reviews aren’t always the doom of a book, it can help to make your book available to your super fans (street team, etc.) who are more likely to support you by leaving a positive review simply because they already know you and your work. 


Post-Launch

Gathering book reviews doesn’t end on launch day. Authors know that reminding readers to leave a review is an ongoing process. There are a few ways you can directly remind readers to leave a review:


  1. Put a CTA (call to action) in the back of your book. If it’s an ebook, include a link to review, to your website, or to your social media.

  2. Periodically remind readers to leave reviews via the places where you are most active with fans (your newsletter, blog, social media, word of mouth, etc.).

  3. Host a giveaway in exchange for reviews (this can be done before or after launch). 


If you’re still writing your book, it’s time to start thinking of how you're going to market and gain those first crucial reviews. If you’ve already launched, it’s never too late to utilize some of these strategies to boost your book’s ranking and rating.


The best news is that authors don’t have to figure out how to do all of this in a vacuum because it’s been done before many, many times! Check out the blog post where I collected authors’ must-have publishing resources. Services like Book Funnel, Story Origin, or Prolific Works all help authors distribute their book to readers pre- and post-launch for the purpose of gathering reviews.

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