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You did it. You wrote your book and you’re about to be published. Hooray! You really should celebrate. It’s kind of a big deal.
And believe it or not, other people want to celebrate your book too, in the form of reviews – and you’ll need them to get your book noticed.
As wonderful as it would be to drop your book into the ether (or into the hands of a publisher) and have amazing people want to review your book, have your cover filled with praises from other well-known authors or get tons of five-star reviews on Amazon – these things don’t happen automatically.
Reviews depend on you, especially in the beginning.
And learning how to get book reviews is essential.
Eventually, momentum can build, like anything. But in the beginning, it’s all you. Not your publisher. Not your mom (though she’ll probably help a lot).
The good news is that there is a lot you can do to get the reviews of your dreams, and it’s not weird or scary at all– pinky promise.
When I got my very first book published I was a first-time, unknown author with zero connections in the publishing world. And yet I got some of my favorite authors to review and provide blurbs for my book, like New York Times bestselling authors Wes Moore, Brian Tracy, and Dan Pink!
I did that all on my own.
I sent an email. I asked. And they said yes.
You can do this too. Here’s how:
To begin, make a list of all the books you love in your genre, especially any that inspired your book or deeply impacted your life. Don’t think, just write.
Pro tip: If you are writing non-fiction, also list all the books you’d recommend to someone reading your book. Then, if there is still time, plan to include a “Recommended Reading” list in the back of your book or add a place in the book where people can sign up for your email list to get your recommended reading list. You’ll see why this will help later.
Go to amazon.com and search all the books on your list and write down the names of all the authors.
Then, with your list of names, start your internet search for their contact info.
If they aren’t a super well-known author you should be able to find their direct email, but if they are more well-known, still try to locate any email you can find:
Then follow them on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn (if they accept your LinkedIn request a LinkedIn direct message can also be a great way to get in touch initially if you can’t find an email address).
If you’d like to see the exact email I sent to Brian Tracy’s assistant that led to him reviewing my book you can download my Review Request Email Templates at the bottom of the article.
You can also use this formula:
Tell them genuinely and specifically what you loved about their book. If there is a quote that you underlined, share that with them and tell them why it resonated with you. This should flow quickly and easily.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I’ll just say it anyway: this should come from your heart. If it doesn’t flow easily, then this isn’t the right author for you.
Why does this work?
Because the deepest dream of any author is that their book will travel time and space to impact someone else’s life in some small way. If you can show them how they’ve succeeded in doing that, not only will you get their attention, but you might even make their day.
This is not – I repeat – this is not about flattery. This is about saying thank you, without any expectation that they will reply or review your book.
Keep this part short. You don’t need to talk about yourself too much (ideally just link to an “about” section on your website or your LinkedIn page).
If you are including a “Recommended Reading” list in your book, tell them that their book is going to be included regardless of whether or not they write a blurb because you love their work so much.
(Note: once you get a few people on board you can then add something like, “other authors who have reviewed so far include [insert author name here]” to this middle section).
Keep this part short too.
Simply and clearly state the details of exactly what they need to do to submit their blurb and when it’s due. Make it as easy as possible for them to do this.
Then thank them again and tell them that either way, you appreciate their work (and tell them specifically why).
Then include a brief one paragraph summary of your book and the table of contents.
This is where you put your book outline and sample chapters from your book proposal (don’t include the marketing sections or anything else that wouldn’t be relevant).
You could also include the entire digital copy of your book.
Then, once your book is out in the world, it’s time to get reader reviews on whichever platforms your book is sold, like Amazon.com.
This is why an email list is so vital, and why I send weekly emails to my own email list even though my next book won’t be out for another year or two. The relationship you have with your email list is your best ticket to getting a huge influx of five-star reviews when your book launches.
There are so many ways to do this. Here are some of my favorites.
Create a weekly or monthly newsletter related to your book’s topic and create a welcome gift to give people who join your list.
You can also incentivize them by letting them know this will ensure they are the first to know when the book comes out and even get a chance to get a free signed copy (you could hold a contest just for your email list).
Invite your email list to join your launch team (you can do this using link triggers).
Don’t wait until everything is “perfect” or “finished” to talk about your book. Instead keep people updated about where you are in the process, even when it’s frustrating. People love being a part of your book’s “before” and “after” process.
The only books I’ve ever reviewed on Amazon.com were for authors who invited me to join their launch team and sent me weekly emails. They made me feel like I was a part of the project, and I wanted them to succeed– I felt like they were my friend. That is the power of good emails.
Incentivize the review process. You can offer a gift as a thank you for people reviewing.
Just ask them to forward you the confirmation that their review was processed, and then you can forward them a digital gift of some kind (or even mail them something special).
Email or direct message people one by one.
I’ve seen so many authors doing this lately and I’m in love with it.
Recently when I’ve liked or commented on an author’s social media post about their book, I’ll get a personal (i.e. not automated) direct message from the author with a genuine thank you and a request to pre-order or review the book. I’ve acted on this every single time.
Also, one of my favorite email practices in the world is when people pick subscribers from their email list and email them directly thanking them for being on their email list, and then asking them personally to review.
And you’ll definitely want to personally reply to anyone who replies to your mass emails with a personal response and a request for them to review your book.
Once it’s time, email your whole list asking them to review your book!
My publisher (Yes- I went with a publisher and this article is for self publishers, but the principles are the same) allowed me to give away the digital copy for free to my launch team via email in order to get early reviews.
Download the exact emails I sent to my favorite authors and email list to see how you can write successful review request emails too.
Get my Reviews Email Templates
Now is not the time to be bashful. If you want to get your book into the hands of the people who need to read it, the first step is to learn how to get book reviews and find the people who can help you do that.
In your email, ask for an honest review, but don’t be afraid to ask them to write a five-star review too! Tell them why this means so much to you; let them in on your dream.
Don’t “play it cool.” Be real.
Tell them how you’re feeling and they will respond like a best friend – thrilled for you and happy to be part of the publishing adventure along with you.
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.