Many authors ask that question, and the answer is surprisingly simple: Ask for them! But how can you go about asking people to read and review your book without seeming like a shameless self-promoter?
In this article, we’ll discuss six ways to get more book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. These methods will help you build credibility and visibility as an author, which leads to more opportunities from publishers, agents, and readers alike!
One reason authors shy away from asking for reviews is that they don’t understand the value themselves. Do you? Maybe you’ve been to a writer conference and heard peers talking about reviews being important, but you don’t quite understand why.
Aside from helping potential readers make informed purchasing decisions, book reviews are essential to the success of a book. The average consumer assumes that a high number of reviews indicates popularity and quality. It’s the equivalent of testimonials on a consultant’s website — we all want to know the experience of other buyers before we invest in a product for ourselves.
Behind the scenes, book reviews have a huge impact — mainly on Amazon. For promotions, books usually need to meet certain review standards to qualify. Promotions get your book in front of a wider audience, which means more sales and — hopefully — even more reviews. We assume 25 interviews is the minimum to qualify for promotions, but we know for a fact there is no such thing as too many book reviews. More is always better.
2. Know the Rules for Amazon and Goodreads Reviews
If you’re focused on getting online reviews for your book, you need to know each website’s rules.
Over on Amazon, you can’t review any products — including books — unless you’ve spent at least $50 using a valid credit card or debit card on the site in the past 12 months. Promotional discounts don’t qualify toward the $50 minimum. Reviews from verified purchasers (people who bought your book through Amazon) are prioritized by Amazon’s algorithm, which is something to keep in mind when you’re looking at your reviews and average star rating.
On Goodreads, any registered member can review any book, but there are standards of conduct to follow. Read through each site’s policies so you know what you can and can’t ask readers to do, and also so you can educate them on how to satisfy review requirements.
Though you can use giveaways and contests to promote book sales and social sharing, you can’t reward people based on reviewing your book.
Both sites have strict rules against conflicts of interest. Amazon doesn’t allow you to incentivize reviews. You can’t offer anything in exchange for a review, including entries into a prize drawing, gifts, purchase rebates or invitations to special events. You also can’t review books written by relatives or anyone who has shared your home address. Sometimes, Amazon will allow reviews when the potential conflict of interest is explicitly revealed in the review.
I’ve worked with John Doe for several years and it’s so nice to finally see his business philosophy and practices captured in a book that anyone can read and review.
3. Use Your Email Signature to Invite Book Reviews
The simplest way to make sure you’re asking for reviews often and consistently without being pushy is to add an invitation as a P.S. in every email you send. You can include it as part of your automated signature or copy/paste it as a P.S. at the bottom of your emails.
Your email signature is a great way to get more reviews because it’s passive. It doesn’t take any extra time or effort. Whenever you send an email, the recipient will see your invitation for a book review and may be inclined enough by curiosity or goodwill to either leave you a review or at least check out the book for themselves.
Here’s one approach to try:
Have you read my latest book, [insert title]? If so, consider leaving a review on Amazon [insert hyperlink] and Goodreads [insert hyperlink]. If not, you can check it out here [hyperlink to purchase page on Amazon].
4. Recruit a Launch Team to Support Your Book
Launch teams are a great way to get your book out in front of several people all at the same time. The more people who know about your book, the more people who will buy it. And more buyers means more people qualified to review your book.
Usually, launch teams are created with the specific purpose of getting online reviews published. You can choose to communicate with your launch team entirely by email, text messages or you can gather everyone together in a pop-up Facebook group that only opens for the launch period and closes afterward.
Most authors or publishers offer launch team members a free copy of the book to read and review. Printed advance reader copies used to be the standard, but not any longer. Now, launch teams usually get a digital copy in the form of a PDF, graphics for sharing on social media and closer access to you as the author.
I enjoy using pop-up Facebook groups for launch teams because it’s creates a centralized location to communicate with launch team members and to share resources and information with them. Readers get excited when they are in a Facebook group with the author, especially when the author takes on an active role in posting, commenting and hosting live video broadcasts exclusive to the group.
Asking launch team members to buy a copy of the book so their reviews get the highly regarded “verified purchaser” is becoming more common, but not everyone likes this practice. I’ve encountered several people who’ve served on launch teams for years and are taken aback by this new era of book promotion. I don’t mind explaining the business end of book launches (and importance of verified reviews) to grumpy launch team members, but you have to do what feels most comfortable to you.
5. Get Creative on Social Media
Socializing the message of your book and getting it seen far beyond your own personal network will require thoughtful promotion on social media.
Rather than a never-ending cycle of “buy my book” posts, take advantage of the natural opportunity for creative marketing.
You can mix up promotional content by sharing graphics that feature your book cover, title, or quotes.
This builds both name and brand recognition for your book, and boosts your credibility. Share these images with hashtags relevant both within social media circles (e.g. #bookstagram and #readers) and within your niche (e.g. #crimefiction, #historicalromance and #biblestudy). Choosing a branded hashtag for your book can help you stay organized and aware of how others are talking about your book on social media.
Social media is a great way to get more reviews, but it can also be used as an opportunity for creative marketing.
Vary how you share links to buy the book. Mix it up between putting the link in a post, in the comments of a post or through direct message with people who comment on posts about your book.
You can also share screenshots of reviews and your Amazon ranking on social media to boost your credibility.
Whenever someone comments that they love your book or shares positive feelings about it on social media, make sure to leave a comment thanking them for being a reader and asking if they’d be willing to copy and paste those words into a review on Amazon and Goodreads.
This is an example of a social media shareable graphic that features the book cover, quote from the book, author’s name and branded hashtag.
6. Manage Your Own Expectations
Every author wants a 5-star rating but that’s not how the world works, and it’s not even that important. The only thing to focus on as an author is the number of reviews you get. Everything else is subjective.
Goodreads reviews tend to be a bit more critical than Amazon reviews. Don’t be surprised if your rating is 1 to 1.5 stars lower on Goodreads than on Amazon. On both platforms, you can mark reviews as “helpful” or “unhelpful.” Asking readers to mark positive reviews as “helpful” influences how Amazon displays reviews in the “top views” section, so it’s a task worth asking folks to do.
When it comes to asking for reviews, keep in mind that not everyone who says they’ll leave a review actually does it. Even on book launch teams, where the whole goal is to get book reviews, you’ll find only about 25% of the members follow through on leaving a public online review of the book.
Why? People get busy, distracted or lose their momentum. Sometimes, they don’t finish the book or don’t like it and are too embarrassed to say anything.
The reason doesn’t matter. Your job is to keep asking.
Successful authors understand that getting book reviews is an ongoing process. It’s a big mistake to only focus on reviews during your launch period, because your book has a longer shelf life than that. If you want people to continue buying your book, you have to keep asking for reviews.
Think of it from a book buyer’s perspective: Would you rather buy a book that hasn’t been reviewed in the past three years or one that has more recent reviews?
This is why we say getting reviews is a long game. You will get more reviews when you understand the value of reviews on Goodreads and Amazon (so you can communicate that value to others), know the rules for leaving online reviews, leverage your email signature to ask for reviews, consider recruiting a launch team, get creative with your social media promotion and manage your own expectations.
There is no time in the lifespan of your book when reviews won’t be important. Do what you can to make the experience enjoyable and stay consistent.
To fully harness the power of Goodreads as a social media platform, you must make a Goodreads author page and learn to effectively use the author program.Not everyone qualifies to become a Goodreads author, but the bar is within reach for any author whose book has an ISBN.
Benefits of the Goodreads Author Program
Created specifically to attract book lovers, Goodreads offers a wealth of benefits for writers in its author program.As a Goodreads Author, you get:
Access to the Goodreads Author Dashboard — The dashboard centralizes your author resources so you can see your stats, account settings and marketing options in a single location.
Access to the Authors and Advertisers Blog and the monthly Goodreads Author newsletter — If you want to succeed on any social media platform, you have to go all-in on the tools offered by that platform. The blog and newsletter are how Goodreads helps authors make the most of their time on the social media platform.
Insights and advice on how to best connect with readers on the platform — Like any social media platform, Goodreads is a social network with its own rules of engagement. Learning how to best connect with readers on the platform will make the most of the time you invest on Goodreads.
Opportunities to participate in Goodreads contests and giveaways — Everyone loves a good giveaway, and book lovers are no different. As a Goodreads Author, you can get your book featured in Goodreads contests.
Advertising options within the platform — As with any marketing effort, paid advertising makes sense when you get a return on your investment. Advertising on Goodreads allows you to target people who are known book buyers, increasing the likelihood that your hands will result in sales.
The Goodreads Author Dashboard centralizes your author resources so you can see your account settings and marketing options on a single page.
Are You Eligible for the Goodreads Author Program?
Goodreads allows anyone who has published books or is in the process of publishing books to join its global author program.Authors with books for sale on Amazon.com or other booksellers will likely get their applications approved faster, but independently published authors can and should apply to the program as well.
How to Make a Goodreads Author Page
If your book is part of the Goodreads database, you will already have a Goodreads Author Page but it won’t actually be “yours” until you claim it.
How to Claim Your Book on Goodreads
Follow these simple steps to set up your Goodreads Author Page:
Create your Goodreads account. You can’t be present on the platform if you don’t have a profile, so your first step is to go to www.goodreads.com and set up your account today.
Find your books. Use the Goodreads search bar to search your name. Your published books should already be listed. If you don’t see your book in the database, you’ll need to add it. If you have trouble adding your book, you can ask for help in the Goodreads Librarians group.
Find yourself and claim your profile — If your book is in the Goodreads database, you can click your name to find your basic author profile page. The author profile page is separate from your member profile, and must be claimed before you can make any changes to it. One you find your basic author profile page, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Is this you? Let us know.” You’ll be directed to a request form to claim your account and join the Author Program. It takes a few days to confirm your application. You’ll be notified by email when your request is approved.
How to Customize Your Author Page
Consider your Author Page your Goodreads welcome mat. This is where members will go to find out all about you and your books.Make time to build out your Author Page with a professional photo, compelling bio and don’t forget an inviting call to action. Help members stay connected to you by linking to your website, your blog or your email subscription form. Make your Author Page more interesting by uploading additional photos and videos. If you have a blog, you can connect it to your Goodreads Author Page using an RSS feed. Make sure to turn on the “Ask the Author” feature to increase your connection with readers.
The Law of Reciprocity teaches that you get out of something what you put into it. If you want to get the most out of Goodreads, you have to invest in it.Invite your friends from Facebook, Twitter and GMail to connect with you. Add books from your Amazon account to your Goodreads bookshelf, and start rating the books you’ve read and the ones you’re currently reading. Vote in polls, join groups and take part in reading challenges. Have fun on Goodreads and you’ll build authority and trust in the community.
How to Use the Goodreads Author Program to Market Your Book
Like any social network, Goodreads rewards you most when you take full advantage of its features. Answer questions from readers, respond to reviewers (skip the negative ones; nobody wins a keyboard war) and update your blog regularly. If you link your website blog to your Goodreads Author Page, it will automatically update every time you post.
Cross-pollinate your network as much as possible. If you’re planning a Facebook Live broadcast, add it to your Goodreads events, along with conferences you’ll be attending and other opportunities to see you live and in person. Make sure to connect every social media platform you actively participate in with your Goodreads account.
Simply put, make it easy for Goodreads members to find you outside of the platform, and make it easy for followers on other social networks to find you on Goodreads.
When you’re ready to pay for exposures on Goodreads, consider all options. For as little as $119, you can host a Goodreads giveaway for either Kindle or print versions of your book. There are other advertising opportunities, but giveaways are a great way to start promoting your book in a way that puts it in the hands of more readers.
Wondering whether Goodreads is the right place for you to grow your audience and promote your books? Borrow my brain for 20 minutes so we can explore whether you should include Goodreads in your marketing strategy. You can book your free session here.
“What is the best social media platform for authors?”
That question comes up for me almost daily — writers ask me via Facebook Messenger, in my free Facebook group, by email and especially when I speak live at conferences and retreats.
And though most people who ask want to know whether to focus on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest, the real answer is none of the above.
Goodreads is the best social media platform for authors.
Goodreads, to me, is the best-kept secret hiding out in plain sight.
When I mention Goodreads to writers, I am usually met with a puzzled look. Either they aren’t familiar with the platform or they know about it and don’t understand it.
I’m going to fix that for you right now.
This article describes what Goodreads is, why you should care and how all of that makes it the best social media platform for authors.
Goodreads is like Facebook for Book Lovers
Launched in 2007, Goodreads is the largest website for book lovers and book recommendations. According to co-founder Otis Chandler, the entire mission of Goodreads is to help readers discover and discuss good books.
As an author, don’t you want a piece of that?
Here’s a taste of what you can do on Goodreads:
Promote your books
Develop relationships with readers
Connect your blog to build a bigger platform
Share updates with your readers
Connect with other authors in your genre and readers who like similar books
Participate in sponsored giveaways
I consider Goodreads to be “Facebook for book lovers” because it’s an expansive community of readers, boasting 90 million members, a catalog of 2.6 billion book titles and 90 million reviews.
Half of the world’s population might be active on Facebook, but on Goodreads, you are guaranteed that every single member loves books. They love books so much that they read them, talk about them and hang out with other people who want to talk about books.
Goodreads is where you find people who know the difference between science fiction and speculative fiction or between Christian inspiration and Christian lifestyle.
Like Facebook, Goodreads will send you notifications to keep you updated with what’s happening in the community even if you’re not checking in regularly. You can also join discussion groups, send and receive private messages and connect with your offline friends and friends from other social networks.
Designed to connect readers with each other and with the authors they love, Goodreads makes it easy for writers to be social. The platform hosts book giveaways (usually paid promotions) and reader challenges to entice readers to try new books, new authors and to explore different genres.
You can recommend books to your friends based on mutual interest or even have a little friendly competition on who can read the most books in a year.
You can also connect with like-minded members in groups. There are book clubs, reading challenges and even groups devoted to reviewing books by Goodreads authors (ahem…you know how important reviews are, don’t you?).
As a Goodreads author, you can host “ask me anything” sessions, connect your blog to the platform to expand your audience and have direct conversations with people who review and recommend your books. They even have articles to show you how to maximize the platform to promote your book.
What Makes Goodreads Special
If you know much about the publishing industry, you know that online reviews can make or break a book’s success in the market. However, reviews are harder and harder to come by these days.
You can’t review books on Amazon unless you’ve spent at least $50 with the company in the last year, and you have to buy the book from Amazon if you want your review to have the authority-boosting “verified purchaser” badge.
The biggest limitation with Amazon reviews, however, is that you’re not allowed to review books until the date of release. This poses a problem for authors who are traditionally published because pre-order campaigns are crucial to the overall success of a book.
Since we know that people are most likely to make purchasing decisions based on recommendations from friends, it’s important to have reviews posted online before your book is released.
This is why Goodreads is the best social media platform for authors. Goodreads allows readers to review books before they are publicly released AND they allow readers to update their reviews. This means a reader can post a review even before they finish the book based on their early impressions, editing the review to update it once they complete the book.
Goodreads helps you to create buzz around your book among people who are already known to buy and read books.
5 Steps to Getting Started on Goodreads
Spend an hour getting to know the culture of the platform — Since Goodreads is like Facebook for book lovers, the tone members use is quite different than on other social media platforms. Sign up for an account if you don’t already have one and start exploring. Click around the site, read reviews, blog articles and check out the discussion area.
Add the books you’ve read — When Amazon bought Goodreads in 2013, the sites were integrated. You can connect your Amazon account to Goodreads to add your Amazon purchases to your Goodreads bookshelf and to keep track of your Kindle reading. Adding the books you’ve read to Goodreads might take a little time, but it will help to connect you to readers with similar interests.
Connect with your friends — You can send invitations to friends through Facebook, GMail and Twitter. By connecting with friends on Goodreads, you can create a community where the only thing you talk about is what you’re reading.
Join discussion groups — Like on any social media platform, Goodreads members expect authenticity in their connections. Don’t join groups to shameless promote your group (unless that’s the purpose of the group). Join groups to build real relationships with readers. Groups are a great way to get inside the heads of super-fans within your genre and to see what is trending among your ideal readers.
Apply to the Goodreads Author Program — Not everyone qualifies to become a Goodreads Author, but the bar isn’t impossibly high. If your book has an ISBN or ASIN, you qualify. The process takes some time, but once your application is accepted, several doors open up to you on the platform, including opportunities to advertise, participate in contests and host “ask me anything” author sessions.
A Word of Caution About Goodreads
Like any social media platform, establishing yourself on Goodreads will take time and energy. Instead of dabbling, make sure you have the capacity to lay a strong foundation on Goodreads before you get started. An intentional investment of time now will pay dividends later.
Though I believe every author needs to be on Goodreads, make sure you have a thick skin. Goodreads members tend to be more critical than Amazon reviewers. Expect Goodreads ratings to average 1.5 stars lower than Amazon. Because Goodreads members are book lovers, they tend to have a wider perspective to draw from than Amazon reviewers. Don’t take it too personally if your book on Goodreads averages 3 to 4 stars.
Just because Goodreads members are more critical in their reviews doesn’t make them right. Example: I launched a Christmas book that received 3 stars from a reviewer who felt “lukewarm” about the numerous references to faith and religion. Did I mention the book was about Christmas? Maybe that’s a story for another day.
Wondering whether Goodreads is the right place for you to grow your audience and promote your books? Borrow my brain for 20 minutes to explore whether you should include Goodreads in your marketing strategy. You can book your free session here.