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How To Get Book Reviews

How To Get Book Reviews

Trying to get readers to write a review is like getting your two-year-old child to take a horrible-tasting medicine, says ALLi member and regular contributor, Giacomo (Jim) Giammatteo. But it is possible and it is worth it.  In the first of a three-part series on reviews, he explains how he gets more than twenty reviews a month.

The Process of Getting Reviews

I launched my book in mid April 2012. Since then I have managed to get seven editorial reviews, 77 reviews on Amazon, and another 44 reviews on Goodreads. No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of reviews (more than 20 per month) so how do you get that many reviews?

I can tell you it’s not by having a big family. I didn’t have my wife write one (mostly for fear of what she’d say) and I didn’t have either of my sons write a review. A few family members did write reviews—the ones who read the kind of books I write. And guess what, one of those reviews was not a five star. (Yeah, I know. Tough family)

For what it’s worth, here’s the secret—work your butt off and put in a lot of time. Here are my suggestions.

  • Your Book—In the back of your book put a statement about how important reviews are, and ask the readers to please leave a review. Don’t ask for a good review, just an honest one.
  • Internet—Spend time scouring the internet for sites that review books, and then send out emails asking them to consider your book for a review. There are a lot more sites than you might think. (I am in the process of putting together a comprehensive list of reputable review sites, so check with me in a few weeks if you’re interested.)
  • Bloggers—This one is perhaps the most important. Do your research. Find the bloggers who read and review in your genre. Follow their instructions and guidelines. Most of them have their policies posted on the site. Read them. Did I mention, Read the Review Policies?
  • Make sure you send your book to reviewers who are interested in your kind of book. I made this mistake, resulting in three of my worst reviews. These reviewers were appalled at the violence and use of language in my book. I don’t blame them; it was my fault. I should have done more checking.
  • Giveaways—This is huge. I have done two giveaways on Goodreads and two on LibraryThing in four months. I gave away 13 print books on Goodreads and more than 60 books on LibraryThing. What was huge about it wasn’t the number of reviews the giveaways generated—which wasn’t nearly what I anticipated—but the additional exposure, especially on Goodreads. During the most recent giveaway I had more than 70 people add my book to their TBR shelf. Long term, that will pay off.
  • Giveaways—I know I just said this, but now I’m talking a different kind of giveaway. These are personal giveaways and this can pay off in a big way. Talk about your book. Don’t be a pest but, if you see an opportunity, talk about it, and give the book away to anyone you think might enjoy reading it. Especially the kind of people who spread the word. I gave books away to my doctor, dentist, mechanic, a cop. My wife gave them to her hairdresser, friends she has in the sanctuary business. Some of these have paid off big time. One of those connections looks like it will get me an article in the paper.
  • Giveaways—What? More giveaways? Yes. Absolutely. Now I’m talking social-media giveaways. If you get in a conversation on Twitter—give your book away. If you’re talking to someone on Facebook or Linked-in—give the book away. G+, Pinterest—give them away. Any chance you get, give a book away. And don’t forget to politely ask for a review. The keyword in this section is conversation. I’m not talking about spamming your book all over Twitter, or mentioning it in every Facebook post. I’m talking about actually engaging people and getting into a conversation with them.
  • Bribery—Perhaps the biggest opportunity of all. If a reader writes to you to tell you how much they liked the book, don’t pester them for a review, but offer them your next book free if they leave a review. You’ll get a high percentage of people take you up on this, and the best thing is you can keep the chain moving. If they leave a review on the next book, give them the one after that free.

The Bottom Line

This is not an easy road. I spend more than an hour every day. Yes, every day, doing something related to getting reviews, but in the long run I know it will be worth it. If I can keep going at this rate, I’ll have more than 200 reviews at the end of my first year. Sooner or later that will pay off.

And as far as that nonsense about paid reviews and fake reviews, and all the furore it’s causing, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I don’t care how many good reviews someone pays for, if their writing doesn’t support it, the word will get out. Will they sell some books along the way—sure, they might. They might sell a lot. But at what price?

How much is your integrity worth?

* In the interest of full disclosure, I make a distinction between sites or services that offer to sell you “good reviews” and legitimate sites that do honest reviews, but also offer “expedited” reviews for a fee. These services don’t guarantee positive reviews, and from what I can tell they are reputable. It’s a shame because some of them will likely be tainted with this scandal. I did make use of five of these sites, including Kirkus, to get an “expedited” review when my book was launched.

Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of Murder Takes Time, and A Bullet For Carlos. He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary housing 41 loving “friends.”


This Post Has 43 Comments
  1. We do free book reviews for independent authors.

    We are a group of retired people in New Zealand who get tired of bungee jumping or diving icebergs (Haha!), so we play golf, read books, write books, and do free book reviews if we like your book.

    We write books too, so we like to see what other authors are currently doing.

    We try to post our reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. In other words, we give a free review (it may take some time) if we like your book and we read your book if it interests us.

    See our book review page for more info > >

    #bookreviews #bookreviewservice #kindlebookreviewservice #amazonbookreviews #indiebookreviews

  2. When I publish a new book, I look up the reviews of books with a similar topic. I check the profiles of the reviews, if they have chosen to show their mail address. I then offer these reviewers a review copy of my book.

    I recently started a service helping authors to connect with reviewers this way,

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  4. I just published a children’s book on bullying. I think your advice is great about getting people who are interested in your book to review it, by giving it away. I don’t really know how to start that – and since I put a small fortune 🙂 into the publishing part of it, I’m not sure I want to give a lot of books away. 🙂 Here is the link to see what the book is about; If you have time, maybe you can provide some advice. Thanks so much, Karen

    1. Karen, congratulations on publishing your new book and on the excellent reviews it has received to date. Here’s an earlier post specifically about how to get reviews, with lots of constructive ideas: Another great way to pick up tips is to subscribe to this blog and also to join ALLi, whereby you can put questions to experienced members via our private forums, and gain many other benefits. Good luck!

  5. I think that paying for a review is fine if the reviewer service is impartial and honest. It helps you write better. As I’ve said before, using Self-Publishing Review has been one of the best experiences I’ve had as they fully read and review every aspect of the book, which is not the case with many other services, plus you get over 500 words, which is practically unheard of in other services. And they are AIA affiliated.

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  7. I’m seriously looking for reviews. Anyone reading who has good ideas or recommendations/lists please assist. My books are on createspace and amazon. Leave a line, Temba Magorimbo

  8. Do you have a goal for how many reviews you want or are you going to just keep on soliciting reviews forever? It really is a grind to get them. I’ve decided 21 is my magic number.

    Have you tried sites like, storycartel, or bookreviewcoop? What is your general opinion of them?

    They are review swaps. Story cartel is a giveaway site. I haven’t tried them yet but I’m planning on it. I’m pretty sick of the review grind although I’ve only connected with nice people who have left good reviews (writing children’s books helps).

  9. I did a LibraryThing giveaway on a horror novella a little over a month ago. I gave away 69 books. So far the only review I’ve gotten was from an old lady who doesn’t like horror. I was like, didn’t you read the tag line on the book: “Salvation Through Darkness?” I got a two star review saying the book was dark with dark happenings and dark characters. Ah, yes it is. Still scratching my head on that one.

  10. I like the idea of using giveaways to garner reviews, my question (for the author of this post as well as for the general public) is:

    Have you ever used a Goodreads giveaway to do this? I have yet to try them out and was terribly curious if anyone had any experience using their giveaway process.

  11. Hi Giacomo,
    Congratulations on the impending release of your latest next week!
    I love this article, and I look forward to the list you mentioned that you’re putting together.

  12. Giveaways—This is huge. I have done two giveaways on Goodreads and two on LibraryThing in four months. I gave away 13 print books on Goodreads and more than 60 books on LibraryThing. What was huge about it wasn’t the number of reviews the giveaways generated—which wasn’t nearly what I anticipated—but the additional exposure, especially on Goodreads. During the most recent giveaway I had more than 70 people add my book to their TBR shelf. Long term, that will pay off.

    Q: Sounds great. So you can add self-published books to Good reads? If so, could you write up some tips on how? How did you give your book away? To “friends” of Goodreads?

  13. Hello

    I run a new website reviewing alternative literature called “The Conspiracy Review”

    We are always looking for new books to review, and when i saw your article i thought id email to see if youd be willing to consider putting our site on your list on book review sites?

    check our website out and if your interested in including it on your list then drop me an email

    kind regards

    The Conspiracy Review

  14. Jim, enjoyed your information.
    My question, is it possible to ‘give away’ kindle books?
    I am three weeks into 90 day Kdp Select with no free days available. Or am I committed to Kdp for 90 days? Should I stay with Kdp automatic 90 days renewal, or broaden the marketplace when 90 days is up?

    “Undone” by Marie Clair
    Sex Pray Love
    Dark, Funny, Insightful
    category self/help/memoir
    $2.99 kindle + paperback

    I have joined GoodReads
    Created Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter accounts all leading to new website/money site.
    Despite 13 ****** Reviews (10 of them unsolicited and independent) all during the free 5 day period, there has been no traffic to the book since then. None!
    Yesterday I changed tweaked the cover/title – it is showing on my website and facebook, but not on kindle, yet. Should be tonight.

    I would be happy to give books away, to get traffic/reviews happening.
    If I can, under Kdp regulations, HOW?

    Next question: living in Australia, is joining the Alliance of Independent Authors, practical, to my advantage?
    Much appreciated
    Please let me know if you have a free book or near to, you would like reviewed.

    1. Hi Marie Claire — There are a number of ways to do giveaways. On your own website, through Goodreads, on Facebook etc. We are compiling a blog post about this right now. And yes, we have many members in Australia and an advisor there too (Steven Lewis, see: Let us know if you need more information by writing to info[at] Geraldine, our Member Care Manager, will be able to assist you. Good luck with the book!

  15. I agree with some of your points but as someone who has published booth traditionally and online, one thing I would stress to all authors is that when you set out, it is vital that you are clear in your motivations for writing.

    If the aim is to actually make money, then you have to treat the entire process as a business and that involves a whole lot more than actually putting words onto paper. It’s also hard work and like any business, long term. However, if you simply want to write because you want to tell a story or because you enjoy it (and there is nothing wrong with that) then you don’t actually need to worry about the pressure of trying to market your book because it isn’t actually that important.

  16. Great tips from hard earned experience. I’ve just done my first Giveaway on thelibrarything. But I sometimes wonder about giving product to all and sundry. What business does that? My huge extended family expect that I’m going to give them my book for free. Well they’ve got another think coming. I believe in giving my books to people who have done something to help me, not giving them on the off chance the generosity will be returned. Do people really value stuff they get for free? Unless they’ve done something to earn it, let them go buy it. If they are really interested in it, they will.
    Grump over for today. Be keen to read your list of sites where people do review books.

  17. Sometimes it is overwhelming, Dixiane. When I said I spend more than an hour a day getting reviews, that was no exaggeration. It’s probably closer to an hour and a half per day. Every day.

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