Getting a Top Reviewer to Read Your Book
Today we feature a guest post from Chris Lawson, Hall of Fame reviewer on Amazon. His pen name is Bassocantor and you’ll definitely want to visit his blog for information and to read his reviews. Chris gets “a ton of book review requests; alas, many of these requests are not very appealing.” That doesn’t necessarily mean the books are bad, but the requests themselves aren’t compelling enough to even get him to the book to find out! He has some great advice for us about how to get a top reviewer to actually read your book.
Are You Ignoring Me?
Yes, it’s true. I respond to very few review requests I receive.
After a brief perusal, I delete almost all of them.
Of course, the key word in the sentence above is almost. Of each 100 requests, I actually say “Yes” one time. It takes a really special pitch to get my attention. Just saying, “How ’bout reading my novel” won’t cut it. Neither will the plaintive, “I really need some publicity.” To get me to spend a bunch of time reading your book, you will have to do better than that.
The following tips apply equally well to books or products that you want reviewed. Here are some tactics to use when pitching your book to that finicky top reviewer.
1. Show a Picture
I recently received a review request for a kid’s book. It was an adventure book, sort of like the “Hardy Boys.” The author included an illustration that so intrigued me, that I found myself checking out their book. It turned out that the book was more boring than the illustration, but I was tempted.
2. Find a Connection
If you can establish a connection to the prospective reviewer, you will stand a far better chance of getting a response. For example, your research has revealed the reviewer likes to review “cozy” mysteries. Great–that’s exactly your genre!
Or maybe you have a mutual friend that you can mention. Don’t be shy about “name dropping.” I confess I am a real sap. If you mention a mutual friend, I will likely just roll over and reply, “Okay, glad to review your book.”
3. Be Professional
One sure way to get your email deleted quickly is to have grammatical mistakes in your message to me. If you can’t even bother to write a good pitch, why should I bother reading your book? Another way to ensure rejection is to phrase your email in a “canned” way, which makes it obvious you’re just spamming everybody.
Don’t be sloppy in your pitch. Be sure to include a working link to the book or product, preferably on Amazon. When I read an email, if I can’t readily see the product, your email goes into the dumpster right away.
One of the oddest review requests I’ve received was addressed to “Dear Grandma.” Amazingly, this has happened multiple times! (These were product review requests, not for books.)
Another tip-off is the email addressed to “Dear Dear.” I have probably received 1,000 of these type of emails–I am not exaggerating. So, best to not address a prospective reviewer as “grandma.”
Here is a special tip: The reviewer doesn’t really care what you want, or that you want a great review. (Well, okay, I’m a bit of a chump and will take that bait, but most reviewers don’t fall for that.) You have to have a better reason than you just “want” a review. Think of what your book offers to the reader. Will it help the reader be smarter, better-looking, healthier?
Here is a recent request that was deleted as soon as the information entered my brain:
Hi dear, I’m doing promotion now. I need a high praise,
I give you a free product. Can you help me?
It’s safe to say that I declined the wonderful offer to give this person “high praise.”
4. Offer a Good Reason to Say, “Yes!”
The idea is, give the prospective reviewer a substantive reason to read your book–something important. Of course, please don’t try to bribe the prospective reviewer with gift cards or anything like that. (If caught, that will quickly get both of you removed from Amazon.) Here are some ideas:
First, give the reviewer the option of the format to be received. I often like to review hard copies–either soft cover or hard cover (especially if I think this book will be a “keeper.”) For fiction, I don’t really like to read e-books, so don’t make that the only option.
Secondly, appeal to their vanity a little bit. Offer to inscribe the book personally to them. (They can later show the inscription off and brag they know the author.)
5. Don’t Offer a Reason to Say, “No!”
Consider the following type of email:
This week, my book is available absolutely free! Please download it and give me a review.
There are two problems with this type of approach. First, if your book is on free promotion, it really sends the message that your book is really not too valuable. That’s why marketeers of high-end clothing (for instance) try to avoid selling to cut-rate retailers. If you are in the market for a Coach bag, do you think the Coach company wants you thinking of Walmart?
The “free this week” message you are sending to a prospective reviewer can be translated to mean this:
Anybody can get my book for free. Why not join the club?
There is a second, more subtle problem with this approach. The “free for everyone promotion” tells the prospective reviewer that they aren’t even getting a free book for their effort–they are getting a discount of $0.00. They aren’t getting special treatment; anybody can get one at this price.
I was not aware of the above tendency until recently. After checking a book offered for review, I found myself changing my impression of the book when I found out it was free for everyone–not just me.
Perhaps many reviewers would not admit they want to be treated special, but I think they do. Everyone wants to feel that they are special–even book reviewers.
Be Gracious and Keep Trying
Finally, realize that sometimes your book just won’t be a hit with the reviewer. Make it easy for them to back out, and avoid penning a sad review. (When I discover that a book wasn’t at all what I thought, I like to tell the author their book “Wasn’t for me.”)
Uh-oh, I just got another email addressed to “Dear Grandma.” Now, where’s that DELETE key?
Great advice, don’t you think? Thank you, Chris, for reaching out and so graciously sharing your wisdom with our readers. Don’t forget to visit his blog! Authors, what is your experience in asking for and receiving reviews? Please share in the comments!
Thanks and blessings to you,