If you’re an Indie author, chances are you can relate when I say that getting reviews of your book is hard work. If I had a review for every sale of my second novel, The Buddha’s Bone, I’d be absolutely chuffed. If you’re a reader, not a writer, then chances are you read plenty of books, but may not necessarily write reviews for every book you buy – or might not leave reviews at all.
Everyone knows that books with lots of reviews make more sales. Think about it: how often do you take a chance on a product if there are no reviews for it? As a reader as well as a writer, I tend to read reviews of books before deciding to buy, whether it’s a new author or someone I’ve read before. I look up the reviews on both Goodreads and Amazon before making up my mind.
So, how does an Indie author get reviews? In my experience, I’ve tried a few things, to varying degrees of success.
I uploaded ARC copies of The Buddha’s Bone in epub, mobi and PDF versions in August 2021, two months prior to publication. I had some interest, getting a few followers, but no downloads. I wasn’t disheartened, as I had read that genres such as romance tend to do best on ARC review sites, and since my novel is psychological literary fiction, I didn’t have high expectations. In any event, it cost nothing as I subscribed for the free service. I’ll try Booksprout again with my next book, which is a different genre, and see if I get results.
I found out about Bookroar through Instagram and signed up for their free author review service in October last year, the same month my book was published. It’s free to use and works on a credit based system, which abides by Amazon’s review policy and community guidelines and ensures no review swaps take place – basically, authors buy, read and review books which earns them credits to add to their own books. The more credits your books have, the more visibility they receive in the book pool. There’s no guarantee your book will be chosen however, but since it’s free to use, and credits never expire, it’s worth trying in my opinion. As a reader, you select a book from the pool, buy a copy of the ebook, read and review it within 3 weeks – when the review is verified by the author, you then earn a credit to use for your own books. As an author, you add details of your book blurb and upload a cover jpeg, and wait for your book to be selected and bought by another author, which earns them a credit for their books. You’re not giving your book away for free – reviewers have to buy it.
In my experience, Bookroar has been fantastic. I have received 5 reviews to date for The Buddha’s Bone and I have reviewed 9 other books, earning credits for my own books. As I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription, I’ve been buying all my books through that and supporting other Indie authors in the process. I’d definitely recommend signing up as an Indie author, if you’re happy to read and review books by other authors, in order to earn credits for yourself.
I used Reedsy to search for the best book review sites and through that I found Whispering Stories, who have left reviews for The Buddha’s Bone on the Whispering Stories website, Goodreads, Amazon, Waterstones and Apple. I also searched through the WordPress reader and found Soph’s Book World, who reviewed my book on Soph’s Book World and Goodreads. Finding book bloggers and reviewers is quite time consuming though; I had to send initial email enquiries and wait for responses. Some got back to say they were too inundated with review requests to fit me in and very few didn’t get back to me at all. Time spent and no guarantee is a factor to consider in finding book bloggers or reviewers, but if you can find the right sites for your book, I’d say it’s worth doing in terms of publicising your work.
Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have been great in helping to spread the word about my books. I have found reliable ARC reviewers by advertising on social media, and they have posted honest reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. These are people across the world who I would never be able to reach if it weren’t for social media; in my experience, shouting to the world about your book online is time well spent.
Using Bookroar, advertising for ARC reviewers on social media and approaching book bloggers has been valuable in my marketing plan towards getting readers and gaining reviews. If you’re an Indie author, there’s no other way to get sales and reviews other than doing the leg work.