Publicizing new books is often based on momentum. The more traction a book or author gets early on, the more it will snowball into something larger later down the line. One of the most common ways to be noticed by a larger audience is through book reviews.
Why Early Reviews Matter
People are more likely to buy a new book if there is some credibility from the author. Reviews are a quick way to grab a potential reader’s attention and convince them that they are not making a gamble buying your book. The most important reviews are the first ones because those reviews open the door for more people to leave reviews. A book critic might decide to read and review a book because they saw that someone they respected reviewed it shortly after it was published, and then that critic’s audience will read their review and hopefully buy the book.
Some Strategies for Getting Early Reviews
One great way to get people to read (and review) your book is to establish a social media presence before the book is published to get people excited. This can be really good for getting crowdsourced book reviews, or book reviews by regular readers who post their reviews on websites like Amazon or Goodreads. The appeal of this is that there is a lot of buzz surrounding your book, meaning word of mouth will help it spread. The issue is that establishing a media presence can be tricky and time consuming, so building the “word on the street” buzz can be very helpful. .
This leads to another way to get reviews: sending pre-launch emails to prospective reviewers asking them to review your book. Give them a free copy (can be an electronic copy) before the book releases and ask them to give their thoughts. Try for a wide variety of traditional media, such as newspapers, magazines, and also digital media like book blogs. Blogs are probably the most reliable place as bloggers are often looking for new content and if they are the first to review something, they might get more visits to their site.
What to do with Early Reviews
Once you have some early reviews, it’s time to use those reviews to get more reviews and, therefore, more exposure. There’s many ways to do this. You could put quotes from reviews on the front and back covers, or post a blurb (part of, a few sentences, for example) on social media, or even send them (along with a free copy) to other reviewers to convince them to write about your book.
As soon as the ball is rolling, it becomes easier to obtain other reviews.
Here are some possible targets for book reviews:
- Your tribe (people you know) for Amazon and Goodreads
- Those with professional tie-ins to the content of the book, for a book blurb
- Book bloggers
- Other digital outlets like bookstagrammers on Instagram, booktubers on YouTube, booktokkers on TikTok
- Traditional outlets such as newspapers, magazines
- Industry publications that relate to you or your book (university publications where you graduated, publications read by professional in your industry such as law newsletters if you’re an attorney, or publications read by folks that could benefit from the content of your book, such as nurses, teachers, therapists), etc.