Author’s Note: Although I wrote this article for children’s authors, and there are a few things that are unique to children’s books, these methods work for any author in any genre who needs to get more reviews! Please share it with any authors you know.
One of the best ways to start selling a lot of books as a self-published author is to have a lot of positive reviews of your book. The social proof that comes from having lots of reviews shows potential buyers that they can feel confident taking a chance on your as an unknown, independent author.
This is especially the case for children’s books, since you probably don’t have the possibility of somebody discovering your book in a bookstore and flipping through it to figure out if their kids would like it.
A lot of authors struggle to get reviews of their books, though, so I thought I’d share some of the “tricks” I’ve used that have helped my books get a lot of reviews in a relatively short amount of time.
(PS – I also recorded this as a podcast episode if you prefer to listen! Listen below, or keep reading)
1. Hit up your personal and social networks directly
I know some authors feel weird about reaching out to friends, family, social networking buddies, etc, to get help with their work, but here’s the deal: the vast majority of people you’re connected with want to help you as an author, and are excited for you. This is especially the case when you put out your first book—they’d love to help you get the ball rolling on sales and promotion, but they usually don’t know how.
If you give friends and family an easy way to support you (by leaving a review of your book), there’s a very good chance some of them will take you up on it.
Some tips for making this strategy work:
- Email a select group of people you’re close to, and post on Facebook/Twitter/etc announcing your book (if you haven’t already), offering free copies to anyone who’s willing to read it and write a quick, honest review for you. Ask for their email so you can gift it to them.
- Mention that your book only takes X minutes to read (the shorter the better), and 2 minutes to leave a review on Amazon.
- Set a limit in the number of free copies you’re giving out, to encourage people to jump on it and make them feel guilty if they don’t follow through with a review 😉
- Send a “gift” copy of your book to them through the Amazon product page. These don’t show up as a “verified purchase,” but they count towards your sales ranking, you’re guaranteed that the person will get the book, and you get back part of the sale price on the book in commissions. For this reason, I recommend doing this technique while your book is inexpensive, like $.99.
- If you’re not getting reviews, you can follow back up with people you sent books to to gently remind them 🙂
- Keep track of people in your network who are really good about reviewing your books, and make sure to contact them directly each time a new book comes out and offer to send it to them!
2. Ask for reviews in the back of your book
This one should seem obvious, but a lot of children’s authors don’t add anything at the end of their book asking for reviews if the reader liked it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Feel free to let people know that you’re an indie author and that reviews are a huge help in supporting your work. Some readers don’t realize how important reviews can be to authors but would be glad to leave a review if asked.
Finally, be sure to link people directly to your Amazon product page (or other place where you want them to leave a review) whenever possible. Make it as easy as possible and remove any roadblocks to them doing it.
3. Build a “mastermind” group with other authors
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a mastermind group, it’s basically just a group of people who get together and help each other with business issues and personal growth. They share ideas, ask for advice and support, share what’s working for them and what’s not, dig into each other’s businesses to produce better results, and more. I highly recommend trying to form a group like this with other authors, too.
(Side note: the inspiration for this post actually came out of my free Let’s Make Kids’ Books Mastermind Facebook group! Click here to learn more about it.)
There are lots of author groups out there that you can join, both online and in person, but most of these groups just focus on writing critiques, brainstorming, and creative aspects of writing and publishing. But why not also focus on helping each other with other parts of the business of writing, such as offering to provide honest reviews of each other’s books, promoting each other’s books when they’re on a special promotion or when someone releases a new title, and more?
By forming a group of other like-minded children’s authors, you can join forces to create better results for everyone!
4. Reach out directly to top Amazon reviewers
This is one of my favorite “tricks,” and one that I’ve used for all of my books!
Amazon has a list of their “Top Reviewers,” which are people who’ve reviewed lots of products (both books and otherwise) and have had their reviews voted as helpful. A small sub-set of these reviewers read and review children’s books as parts of their reviews, and since children’s books are usually very short, they can read them and leave a review very quickly. One thing I love about working with Top Reviewers is that they’re FAR more likely to leave a review than other people, because each review they leave on Amazon gets them higher up the list!
Here are my tips for finding and reaching out to Top Reviewers:
- Browse through the Top Reviewers list on Amazon, looking at profile pages to see who regularly reviews children’s books
- See if they include their email address or website on their Amazon profile page (it will be on the left side under their name and other info)
- Contact them, mention that you noticed they review lots of children’s books, and offer them a copy of your book(s) in exchange for an honest review
- Include a link to your book’s page on Amazon so they can check it out in advance
- Send them a gift copy through Amazon
- If they like your book and leave a positive review, make sure to follow up with them each time you release a new book!
I’ve had great success getting Top Reviewers to leave reviews of my books, and I’d highly recommend reaching out to a few of them to get some reviews for your books. To make it more likely that they’ll want to review your work, make sure your book looks appealing on the Amazon product page, with an attractive cover, well-written, engaging description, and preferably a few positive reviews already in place.
One of the best things about being a children’s author is that it’s much easier to get reviews of our books, because they’re short and easy to read (compared to long works of fiction or non-fiction). The key is to ASK for reviews, because otherwise you probably get them!
I hope this article was helpful for you—if you’re looking for more book creation and marketing strategies like this, be sure to check out my training course 6 Weeks to Your First Children’s Book. It’s got everything you need to create and self-publish a children’s book, and the final week of the course is all about marketing and promotion, and goes into a lot more depth about getting reviews and getting the word out about your book. If you’re releasing a children’s book soon, or have an existing book that’s struggling and you need help getting it selling, check out the course!
If this article was helpful to you, or you know authors who would like more reviews of their books, please use the social media buttons to the left to share it with others and help more authors get the reviews they deserve!