I've had quite a few newly and soon-to-be published authors ask me if I knew a way to get online reviews. More specifically, good online reviews.
The answer is yes and no.
First, what is a good review? To me, a good review is a thoughtful, professional, honest opinion of the book. That doesn't always mean it's a favorable review.
How does one find reviewers? Well, it depends, in part, on the type of book you have written. I was fortunate. My publisher sent my book to the big review sites like Publishers Weekly and Booklist on my behalf. They also sent ARCs to reviewers who requested through the marketing department. But I did the grassroots campaign myself.
Again, I was fortunate. My book is traditionally published mainstream YA. There are multiple tour sites that handle my kind of book. I researched and found a great fit with a teen book tour site. I did a 120-stop blog tour that included video interviews, written interviews, previews, live chats, character interviews, this or that lists, essays relevant to the book and, of course reviews. Lots of early reviews.
But what if your book targets a niche audience or isn't traditionally published?
I would recommend researching recent releases in your genre. You should be doing this anyway. Get some titles with readership similar to that of your own book. Google those titles and read the reviews. If you like the style of a reviewer, find his or her site and read the review policy. If your book fits the criteria, send a review request.
The research is so important. Many reviewers put what they exclude on their site. It will save time and aggravation both for you and the reviewer if you research first. If reviewers state they don't review horror or BDSM or inspirational or whatever, and that's what you write, don't get offended. You do NOT want them to review it anyway as they've already stated it's not their cup of tea. Some don't review self-published books. Again, it's their blog; if they don't want to read it, that is their choice. Don't try to change their minds (you would not believe how often this happens). Go find someone who will. Approach reviewers who have written reviews for similarly published books.
Accept no. For all the reasons above, if a reviewer declines to review your book, consider it a blessing. That review may not have helped you.
Research, research, research. Sometimes blog tours are effective, other times it's better to arrange specific targeted reviews. Know your market and new releases in it, then figure out whose hands your book should be in to give it the greatest positive exposure.
Be professional. As I said before, a good review does not always mean a favorable review. Not everyone will like your book. Not even those you provide with a free review copy. Hold your breath and your tongue (or fingers on the keyboard) and move on.
One final observation: Big isn't always best. Many of the huge review blogs have redundant readership. In working with my tour coordinator, we made sure that we included many smaller blogs with unique readership in my target audience in addition to the larger blogs.
Do you have tips for securing reviews? I'd love it if you'd share them in the comments.
Wishing everyone a fabulous week!
Mary Lindsey lives in Houston, Texas, where she teaches acting to children and teens. She has one husband, two dogs, three children and dozens of hissing cockroaches.
Her debut novel, Shattered Souls, was released in December 2011. Upcoming projects include Annabel, a YA gothic based on Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "Annabel Lee" (2013), and a companion book to Shattered Souls (2014), all from Philomel/Penguin.
For more about Mary or her books, please visit her website: www.marylindsey.com