Monday, September 16, 2013

Top 12 Sites for Finding Reviewers

Nothing is quite so discouraging to an author as a dearth of reviews. After years of working on a novel, months (if not years) of trying to find an agent, and even more time spent waiting for publication, the release date arrives and poof! Nobody appears to be reading your book! It's enough to make you hang up your keyboard.

Even if you self-publish, you will spend months of preparation for a release day that may go out with a whimper, not a bang. In some respects, a lack of reviews is worse if you have self-published, because those who follow that route have to do all their own marketing and promotion, a task which requires direct involvement with readers.

Why are reviews important?

Like any other product on the market, people rely on the recommendations of others when they choose a book to read. In traditional publishing, endorsements by well-known authors and public figures are a key element in marketing. In the self-publishing world, success rests on the number of readers on Goodreads, on Amazon, and on blogs who will give your book a 5-star review. Without this kind of public endorsement, it may be nearly impossible to promote your book, especially if you have enrolled in KDP Select.

Amazon KDP Select giveaways are still the reigning book promotion tool. There are dozens of sites that will post your free days, but nearly all of them require a minimum number of reviews. It's one of those chicken-and-egg dilemmas. You can't promote your book without reviews, but you can't get reviews without promotion.

Should you pay for reviews?

If you are a new self-published author, don't pay for reviews.

Traditional publishers have long-standing ties with the media, which self-publishers don't. This often drives self-publishers to pay for publicity. In my experience, paid reviews don't have nearly the clout of regular reviews posted on Amazon or Goodreads. For one thing, they have limited shelf life. A paid review may get posted on Blogcritics and then picked up briefly by small publications, or it may simply get sent to you for your own use. Very rarely do these reviews make it into larger media outlets, where they will reach the maximum number of people. Of course, you can always shell out $400 for a Kirkus review, but you take your chances. A good review in Kirkus is like an endorsement from God, but a bad review is the kiss of death.

How to get free reviews

Fortunately, there are mechanisms in place for getting reviews without spending a great deal of money. Giving away copies en masse is one route, targeting individual reviewers is another.

Librarything allows authors to give away copies of their books to Librarything members. (Read their policies.) Authors of self-published ebooks can give away up to 100 copies. Reviews are not required of readers, although they are recommended, so don't expect more than a 10% return rate. But even 10 reviews will enable you to post your free days on some of the larger freebie sites if you have enrolled in Amazon KDP Select.

Bookblogs is a great site for finding reviewers and for posting your giveaways. Explore the "groups" section and join the groups that are relevant to your genre. When you give away a book, or are looking for reviews, you can post it on the group site. You also have the option of sending a message to every member of that group.

Step-by-Step Self-Publishing
This is a great resource for book review blogs. It's an alphabetical listing of individual bloggers as well as book reviewer lists. This is your one-stop shopping guide to reviewers.

Book Blogger Directory
Over a thousand book blogs, very nicely organized by subject, and alphabetically. However, quite a few of these blogs no longer exist, or are closed to submissions, so you will have to sift through them. 

Best of the Web
Best of the Web book blogs organized alphabetically. Not as easy to navigate as the other lists on this page.

Book Blogger List
http://bookbloggerlist.com/2013/09/bestsellerbound-recommends/
This well-organized site is for fiction only. A convenient drop-down menu off the navigation bar lets you choose the genre. I had more luck with the reviewers who posted their blogs on this site than any other.

The Indie View
http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/#!
Reviewers are listed on a convenient table that provides links to their websites, submission guidelines, and where they post reviews. Because so many reviewers list their sites here, your chances of finding a substantial number of reviewers for your genre are high. All reviews are free of charge. If you've written an ebook, this site will prove very useful.

Book Reviewers on the Web
http://robinmizell.wordpress.com/book-reviewers/#!
This is a one-size-fits-all list that requires a lot of work. Don't bother with the first few sections, just scroll down to the last part: "Web directories of book review sites." That's where you will find gold.

YA Book Blog Directory
http://yabookblogdirectory.blogspot.ca/p/ya-book-blogger-list.html
The YA Book Blog Directory is a reference site for YA book blogs.There are numerous book blogs, all with unique styles and preferences. HUGE list - organized alphabetically.

The Midwest Book Review
http://www.midwestbookreview.com/links/othr_rev.htm#!
The MBR, which, by the way, does a GREAT job of reviewing books (although they charge for ebooks), has a very long list of reviewers. The list is alphabetical, so it's a chore to work through. But, the list is extensive enough to warrant a bit of work.

Story Cartel
http://storycartel.com/registration/
Story Cartel is based on an interesting concept. Somewhat like Librarything, you post your book for free for a limited time in exchange for reviews. The difference is that with Librarything giveaways, the author sends the book to a list of readers, whereas Story Cartel posts your book. With over 12,000 readers, you are guaranteed to get at least a few reviews.

Directory of Book Bloggers on Pinterest
http://www.mandyboles.com/2012/01/directory-of-book-bloggers-on-pinterest/
Alphabetical list maintained by Mandy Boles.

Kate Tilton’s Book Bloggers
http://katetilton.com/kate-tiltons-book-bloggers/
Smaller list maintained by Kate Tilton - all provide reviews.

Book Viral
This site allows you to submit a book to be featured as a spotlight before "thousands of readers." The turnaround time for a free review is 16 weeks. Although the site is very professional, the claims that they make best-sellers are vastly overstated. The majority of the books featured on this site have Amazon rankings well into the hundred thousands and often in the millions. If you decide to go with this service, don't pay for a fast track review.

For those who are looking for reviewers with serious clout ...

The Complete Review
http://www.complete-review.com/links/links.html
The Complete Review is just that - a complete source for book reviews of all sorts, paid, print, online, free, and in many languages. If you have just published an ebook on Amazon, this should not be your first stop for finding reviewers. But, if you are on your second or third book, this site will prove useful. You can also find general literary sites, literary blogs, and publishers here.

AcqWeb
http://www.acqweb.org/book_review
AcqWeb is gathering place for librarians looking for acquisitions. The list they feature is not long, but it will give you a good idea of where librarians go to find book reviews for items they are interested in purchasing. When it comes time for you to pay for a review, make sure it appears on one of these sites.

The Writer's Site
http://www.thewriterssite.com/direct_pages/book_review_sites.html
This site has a short list, but the commentary is useful. Many of these reviews sites do not appear elsewhere.

The 8 Best Review Sites
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/decide-what-to-read-next-with-the-best-book-review-sites/
This article is a rundown of the top places you can get your book reviewed. The New York Times, of course, is first on the list. This is the list big publishers hoping to make a splash send ARCs to. While it's not useful for most Indie writers, it's always a good idea to become familiar with how the book review world works.

Words Into Print
http://wordsintoprint.wordpress.com/list-of-book-reviewers/
Words Into Print is an extremely useful resource if you are considering a print publication. Not only do they give you a list of all the places to send ARCs, they tell you when. This site also provides useful information about other facets of self-publishing, writing query letters, creating a press release, scheduling readings, and so on.

And, if you have the money ...

If you are serious about having libraries order your book, and want the stamp of a prestigious review source you can always submit your book - in print or digital format - to Kirkus. It's expensive - $425 for a standard review. Kirkus is a high-stakes gamble. A good review will get you far, but a bad one is the kiss of death.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks Erica

    That's a nice list to keep around. I hope that paid reviews will evolve into an honorable option for authors to market their books. Free reviews do not equal honest reviews. Mean spirited people who totally trash someone's work and have zero critiquing skills do not add value to the buying decision but can sabotage sales.
    Robin Austin
    Slashed Reads dot com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your observation, Robin. Before submitting anything to a reviewer, I always read their policies and guidelines very carefully. The better reviewers often state they they don't "trash" an author simply because they disagree with his or her viewpoint. As always, "look before you leap" is the best rule to follow in this business. (I usually read several of the reviewers' posts before I approach them.)

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  2. I agree that free reviews can also be dishonest and also result in unfavourable and short reviews. A site that offers both free and paid reviews (so you have a choice of the service you like) is www.kindlebookreview.net which I have enjoyed using. Best of luck to all of us looking for more reviews!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with new authors and ones that need to know these things, my story was just published and my publisher said she would promote it for $500 per month so I am trying to do it myself and can use all the help I can get. Jori Nunes 'Chocolate Flowers' (Not a cook book, a 'Twisted Tale') :)

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  4. Jori, you'e been misled. 3L is not a publisher, it's a vanity press. Vanity presses do absolutely nothing for authors. You would have been better off publishing your book yourself on Amazon. I would have been cheaper, for one thing. And you could have done some decent promotion.

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