Where to find online book reviewers

When the subject of book reviews comes up, most of us think of traditional book review publications such as The New York Times or Publishers Weekly, or about online review sites that include ReviewtheBook.com.

We often forget, however, that we can get positive, powerful, and meaningful book reviews from just about anyone who loves books — including you and me. As the Association of Booksellers for Children reported in late 2010, more than half of the people it surveyed on book purchasing influences cited “books my friends and family recommended” as a major factor in their book buying decisions. The survey noted that just over one-third — 38 percent — of the respondents said they were influenced by book reviews in magazines and newspapers.

Goodreads.com is a powerhouse for authors

The largest source of those non-media reviewers — the people who love reading as much as we do — is Goodreads.com. With more that 7.3 million members, Goodreads.com gives book lovers a chance to create virtual bookshelves (with more than 260 million books!) that others can peruse. Those members not only share what they’re reading with their personal Goodreads networks, they also review and recommend those books, or create lists that announce what they want to read next.

The impact this site can have on your book’s success is astounding, so when I got an e-mail from “Publicity Hound” Joan Stewart telling me that she was going to host a webinar that explained how to use Goodreads and many other reader review sites effectively, I knew I had to be on it.

Because I’m one of Joan’s affiliates (I occasionally recommend products or programs of hers that I’ve used; I receive a small commission on resulting sales), Joan graciously gave me a complimentary pass to her program, “Where to Find Millions of Readers Online to Review, Recommend & Buy Your Books.” (This link and others to Joan’s program here use my affiliate link. It doesn’t cost you more to use it.)

I was blown away by the amount of helpful and very, very specific information Joan covered in 90 minutes. I took good notes so that I could share information here, but this report is no substitute for the webinar and Joan’s handouts, so you might want to consider purchasing the program and taking your own notes now that she has made the recording available.

Webinar tips 

The program covers ways to increase our exposure in four site categories:

  1. Book review sites, forums, and discussion groups
  2. Librarians
  3. Bloggers and social media
  4. Freelance writers and others

Here are some of my favorite revelations from the program, which covered a whopping 35 review sites:

  • I see a lot of discussions in author forums about the wisdom (or necessity) of advertising on Goodreads.com. The good news is that you don’t need to spend money on advertising if you use the site appropriately for book promotion purposes. For example, did you know you can import your blog to your profile so that your posts show up on Goodreads, too, and that you can join local groups of book lovers on the site? Joan talked quite a bit about what you can do with Goodreads– too much for me to summarize here, unfortunately.
  • You can purchase a review from Kirkus Reviews. If you don’t like it, the magazine won’t publish it. Self-published author Darcie Chan bought one, got a good review, and sold nearly a half million copies of her e-book.
  • Never respond to negative reviews. Nothing good will come from it.
  • If you write romance novels, you need to plug into RTBookReviews.com.
  • Book review sites like books that are just about to be published, so look into early reviewer programs.
  • If you write science fiction, you might be aware of Locus Magazine, but did you know that librarians are influenced by its reviews when considering science fiction purchases?

I learned about a lot of sites I had never heard of (but need to explore), but I also learned more about how to use those sites I was aware of already. I strongly recommend you consider this resource if you want to generate more online reviews for your book. You’ll get the webinar video file, an audio file, a PDF file of the PowerPoint slides you can refer back to regularly, and a PDF file listing very specific URLs for the 35 sites covered during the program (one thing I like about Joan is that she’s detail oriented, which means that you don’t get the generic home page URL for each of these sites — you get the exact URL you need to start making things happen for your book on these sites).

Have you had success generating reader or media reviews from online sites? Can you offer any tips?


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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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21 Responses to Where to find online book reviewers
  1. Dave Moore
    April 11, 2012 | 12:10 pm

    Great on time advice! I have been working very hard to promote but as a first time unknown author it is an uphill battle. Thank you very much!

  2. Sandra Beckwith
    April 11, 2012 | 12:35 pm

    You’re welcome, Dave, and thanks back to you for the comment. Book promotion does require effort, but if you learn as much as you can about how to do things effectively and keep at it, you’ll see progress.

  3. Paula Hrbacek
    April 15, 2012 | 7:01 pm

    I write a book review column for The Examiner, an online newspaper. I cover mild to sweet contemporary romance, romantic suspense and mystery, as well as books on parenting or arts and crafts. The Examiner wants a local angel to each story, so it’s a plus for me if the story is set in Northwest Florida or the author is from that area. There is an issue of the Examiner for each major city, so look up the one that covers your area. Each columnist has a twitter or Facebook feed that you can use to contact them.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      April 15, 2012 | 7:05 pm

      Thanks for sharing that tip, Paula.

  4. Jason
    April 26, 2012 | 12:34 am

    Very informative write up. I recently received my first publishing contract for a children’s book and I accidentally discovered goodreads through facebook. Very good stuff.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      April 26, 2012 | 7:10 pm

      Congratulations, Jason. I hope it’s a great experience for you.

  5. Diane O'Key
    October 10, 2012 | 2:20 pm

    Sandra,
    Marvelous information! My debut medieval romance, CHERISH THE KNIGHT, is gleaning some great reviews, but… a lot more I need to do. Thanks so much for all these great suggestions 🙂
    Diane

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 10, 2012 | 2:22 pm

      Thanks, Diane! I’m so glad it was helpful! I loved Joan’s program — it was full of “ahas!” for me.

      Sandy

  6. Diane O'Key
    October 10, 2012 | 2:24 pm

    Sandra,
    You always provide such marvelous information! My medieval romance, CHERISH THE KNIGHT, is garnering great reviews, but…still have a lot to do.
    Thanks so much for these wonderful suggestions,
    Diane

  7. VIctoria Noe
    October 10, 2012 | 2:35 pm

    This is very timely, as I’m publishing my first in a series of small ebooks/print books later this month.

    My challenge with Goodreads (and other author/reader sites) is that I write nonfiction. My advantage is that I’ve identified several target audiences. They may or may not be on Goodreads, but they do have blogs and websites that address their issues. I’ve been building relationships with them for 18 months, so I’m about to find out if that was time well spent!

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 10, 2012 | 2:50 pm

      Victoria, Goodreads and sites like them might be “Tier 2” targets for you — options you tackle after you’re done with “Tier 1,” which should be those niche markets you’ve identified. It sounds like you’re thinking of a virtual book tour. Have you seen my free how-to report on them? You can download Virtual Book Tour Basics at http://buildbookbuzz.com/virtual-book-tour-basics/. (If you like it, please share that URL with others!)

      Sandy

  8. JANIS HUTCHINSON
    October 10, 2012 | 3:44 pm

    My problem with Goodread is that there is no instruction manual to help me navigate the site. I originally managed to list my two books, but I’ve tried to add an additional book (a second edition of one of my books) to my profile, but it keeps telling me that I can’t add my own book–only someone else’s. I have belonged to Goodreads for over a year and don’t even go there anymore because of this.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 10, 2012 | 4:49 pm

      Janis, I have a couple of thoughts. First, Joan Stewart’s webinar described above contained a good amount of info on how to leverage Goodreads. You can learn more at http://bit.ly/GWJLvl.

      Second, I tweeted the link to this article by the head of Goodreads’ author program a few wks ago — there might be something helpful there: http://bit.ly/RM74bU. There’s a link to the Goodreads author program at the end and you might get answers — or an e-mail address for someone who can help you solve your problem — there.

      Sandy

  9. Christine Pirkey
    October 10, 2012 | 4:21 pm

    Thank you Sandra for such a helpful article. It’s people like you who go out of their way to lend a hand to those of us who are just coming up that keeps us going. Right now, I have 3 eBooks on Kindle–one suspense thriller and two short fantasies for grown-ups–and am getting ready to publish the suspense-thriller as an Amazon paperback. I also have other books ready that I could put on Kindle now, but at the moment I just feel kind of overwhelmed. I’m wondering if it is more important to try to promote the eBooks I already have out, or should I add my other books to Kindle first (I write both fiction and non-fiction), I keep asking myself. I understand the advertising part of publishing, but there is only so much time to devote to this issue. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated appreciated.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 10, 2012 | 4:55 pm

      Hmmm…. Well, Christine, when I’m over-whelmed, I find that tackling the easiest task first works best for me. You might be different, but using my approach to overwhelm, which would be easier for you right now: uploading more books or shfting to paperback production?

      I don’t, however, have a recommendation for which you should pursue first. It depends on your overall goals and what you want to accomplish with your books. If your current e-books are selling well, it makes sense to offer more books to people who like your writing so that they can get more of you. The other side of it, though, is that without a print version of your suspense-thriller, you’re missing out on an audience that prefers holding a book.

      Not much help, eh?

      Sandy

      • Christine Pirkey
        October 10, 2012 | 6:55 pm

        Thank you, Sandra. Actually, you did help me decide what to do next! The easiest thing for me to do right now is have my suspense thriller put in paperback form, then start publicizing it, since I find writing articles and other types of free publicity fairly easy to do. I’ll let you know later how everything works out.
        Chris Pirkey

        • Sandra Beckwith
          October 10, 2012 | 9:46 pm

          Glad to hear it, Chris!

          Sandy

  10. Tegon
    October 17, 2012 | 5:29 am

    Good article !! I never thought about librarians as a sales point !

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 17, 2012 | 1:41 pm

      Glad you liked it! I had lots of “ahas!” like that while watching the webinar.

      Sandy

  11. Kathie Freeman
    October 19, 2012 | 11:03 pm

    You can buy a review from Kirkus, but Amazon will delete it.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      October 20, 2012 | 12:29 am

      Thanks, Kathie. That’s good to know. Have you had experience with that?

      There are lots of other ways to use a good Kirkus review besides posting it on Amazon, though.

      Sandy

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