The Indie Author’s Guide to Customer Reviews

“The self-publishing revolution has taken place, in large part, online, with readers discovering books and connecting directly with indie authors through sites like Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Wattpad, Smashwords, and more. In addition to book blogs, online book clubs, and online advertising, one of the central means by which readers learn about self-published books is the customer review. Reviews offer (ostensibly) unbiased commentary about a book, and while positive reviews are undoubtedly more desirable than one-star pans, having a mixed bag of reviews is better than having none at all…

‘Along with the cover image, a book’s aggregate review score creates the first impression on Amazon’ says Aaron Cooley, who self-published his novel Shaken, Not Stirred. ‘But the total number [of reviews] is important, too.’

But if customer reviews are, by their very nature, customer-generated, what can authors do to get more of them? Without resorting to ‘sock-puppet’ reviews—that is, reviews written by the book’s author using an alias—how can authors turn that discouraging ‘no customer reviews yet’ message into a smattering of star ratings and commentary?

Blogger Outreach

It’s common for indie authors to reach out to book bloggers to pitch their books for review. If you’ve succeeded in getting your book reviewed—or you’re still shopping for the right blogger—ask the blogger if they’re willing to post their review to Amazon or Goodreads, in addition to their own blogs.

Jane Litte, owner of the popular romance blog Dear Author, says that, when it comes to posting reviews to other websites, ‘Each reviewer has their own practices and habits. Personally I post a short review of books I’ve read at Goodreads.’

Others will post to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites, such as Shelfari. On The Indie View, a site that hosts a list of bloggers and writers who review self-published books (for free), reviewers specify which sites they’ll post their reviews to.”

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