Review Mania ll

Written By: Jackie Weger - Oct• 04•16


It never stops…

eNovel Authors at Work...a group of indie authors sharing our experiences and ehow. Always FREE

eNovel Authors at Work…a group of indie authors sharing our experiences and ehow. Always FREE

Good afternoon. I’m Jackie Weger, Founder of eNovel Authors at Work. It has been a short three years  since I stepped into our indie author universe. The single word that has resonated during these months is Review. Spend ten minutes surfing Facebook and lurking in forums and you will come across a plethora of posts by indie authors begging for book reviews.  Many indie authors want those reviews as affirmation that  he or she can write and tell a story. That is NOT the province of a review. Readers and bloggers share their opinions of books to alert the next reader if that reader might or might not enjoy the book.


600+ Organic Reviews. Most of which were posted after a Bookbub promotion and other promotions. Never offered FREE in exchange for a review.

Yes, in the recent past, a book needed a certain number of reviews in order to snag a top slot in some of the better promotion newsletters or websites. But today more and more promoters are open to promoting new releases sans a review. Promoters want our almighty promo $. Thus new release slots are available. I will say straight out…

Many indie authors don’t do their homework…or bother to learn our indie industry.  In other words, they Eat Stupid for Breakfast. There are easier ways to gather reviews than hopping from Facebook page to Facebook page, or putting the onus on friends, family and colleagues to read and post reviews. Here are a few things that work for me and the authors in eNovel:

Right after THE END in our books we write:

Thank you for taking the time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated. Thank you. [author name].  

Next we plan a small FREE or 99¢ campaign for the new release book to pull those organic reviews.

Or, we hire a Tour director to take the book on a virtual Book Review Tour. A book review tour must be planned weeks in advance. Bloggers need time to read and review.  This is a very inexpensive way to gather those first critical organic reviews. Three Tour Directors that we like are: Book Partners in Crime Promotions, NjKinny’s World of Books & Stuff  and Goddess Fish Promotions.

Run a Rafflecopter on your blog for your book. Don’t know how? Hire BPiC to set it up.  Now you have a Giveaway to interest those on Facebook/Google+ and Twitter.

Most of us submit our first two or three books to Big Al Kunz, the premier indie book reviewer. A review from Big Al’s Books and Pals is golden.  Big Al posts a list of more than 200 active reviewers on the Indie View HERE.

Book reviews are NOT instant. One must wait for the reader to read the dang book. Patience is required.  All reviewers have a TBR stack ahead of you. There is a protocol for approaching reviewers. In your email: Greet the reviewer by name. State your name and the name of your book and offer a one line tag. DO NOT send your book cold turkey. ASK FIRST. Or follow the instruction on the blog to submit your book for review.  For the best ehow on approaching a reviewer read THIS article  by a TOP 1000 Amazon, Goodreads and NetGalley reviewer, Julie Whiteley.

Published April 8, 2015. 405 reviews posted after a FREE campaign

Published April 8, 2015. 405 organic reviews posted after a FREE campaign

How effective are the above approaches for gathering reviews? Excellent! With the gentle review plea in the back of our books being the leader.  Footnote: It is acceptable to pay for a review, but that review may ONLY be posted inside your book’s page in Editorial. If you use a review service such as Net Galley or Choosy Bookworm’s Read and Review Progam, the reviewer must state he/she received the book free in exchange for an honest review. That is clearly stated in Amazon’s Terms of Service. Savvy indie authors read those Terms of Service. UPDATE: THIS IS NOW AGAINST AMAZON’S TOS.  No book may be offered free in exchange for a review. See below.

UPDATE: As of October 01, 2016 authors may not offer a free book in exchange for a review to be posted on Amazon. Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review. Policy change here.

UPDATE: Since late 2015 Amazon has been removing reviews by the 1000s. Read more on Kboards.  Blogger/reviewers are seeing their reviews removed from Amazon in the hundreds. Authors are dismayed. Here is one reason why: Many blog owners/reviewers are linking their reviews with Amazon affiliate codes. That is a no-no.  Wholly against Amazon’s Terms of Service…Reviewers are not allowed to earn money from reviews–in any fashion. NOT the done thing, says Amazon.  If you have any questions about how you use your affiliate code, ASK AMAZON. 


110 New Reviews since a January 16, 2016 promotion. Not all 4 & 5 star, but hey! We can’t please all readers and they ARE entitled to their opinions.

Indie authorship is W.O.R.K.  It does not cost us five cents to publish our books on Amazon. Career indie authors do invest in editors, cover artists and formatters. If you don’t, do expect to see one and two star reviews outstripping the four and five star. Because they will.

Even if you are on a tight promotion budget, there are above 75 sites one can submit a title for no charge or for as little as $5 or $10. For an excellent up-to-date 2016 list of promoters visit Effrosyni Writes.  Reminding you that books are inanimate objects until the stories they tell come alive in a reader’s mind.

All promoters mentioned in eNovel blogs have been vetted. We know them, we like them, they consistently produce results for the fees charged. If they don’t, we say so. We know every book will not get the same results. Our members write across a dozen or more genres. We get it. Timing, price, book cover, book descriptions–all affect downloads.

Two promotion sites that have made it onto eNovel’s  list are booktastik and BettyBookFreaks. UPDATE: Betty is now Ebookbetty. Here is why: On a recently ten author/5 day  tour. Dionne of booktastik promoted the tour on her site for free all five days. Dionne has also started streaming  promotion results for transparency. That is the GOLD Standard. Betty of Ebookbetty grabbed our posts and was a Tweeting Wizard for our tour and promotion. They pay-it forward. We love ’em. BookBarbarian has just made it to our list for Sci-fi and Fantasy; $15 for promotion and BookBarbarian streams results. Transparency. So does BookScream – which sends the author an in depth activity on a book promotion.  These all are smaller sites with fewer subscribers, but the owners are doing it right. eNovel Authors at Work supports R.I.G.H.T.

Finally, Reviews will not fall in your lap. There are no less than three million indie authored books on Amazon. A dozen or more indies release new books daily. Successful indie authors step up their game. The above suggestions can work for you. But only if YOU take action.  Choose one you are comfortable with and go with it.

Would love it if you followed me on Amazon.

Would love it if you followed me on Amazon.

@JackieWeger 2016, eNovel Authors at Work.

Comments Welcome. We love for indie authors and readers to share their experiences with us. We learn from you. Welcome booktastik, Ebookbetty, BookScream and BookBarbarian to eNovel’s Preferred List. Already on our prefered list above the fold: Bookbub, fkb&t, Ereader News Today. 


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  1. Iola says:

    Excellent post!

    As a reviewer, I’ve come across so many authors who Eat Stupid for Breakfast (great quote, by the way). The most memorable was the one who invited me to review BDSM erotica … my review site is called Iola’s Christian Reads, which should be a clue as to the type of books I prefer.

    I’d add one more comment: if you keep approaching reviewers and they keep turning you down, it’s probably because you’ve done something wrong. Maybe you targeted the wrong reviewer, but it may also be that your book cover or description isn’t appealing, or that it needs editing.

    I’m about to reject a review request because the opening page shows the book needs competent editing (which is different from proofreading. I come across a lot of books where the spelling and grammar is excellent, but there are huge issues with the writing or plot).

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Iola! Thank you so much for adding to the discussion. Indie authors need to hear from Reviewers who tell it like it is. Very often book promoters will accept a title for promotion because that is money in their pocket, but the book description just does not grab the reader. It is sad, but many indie authors won’t revise a description. Those things are difficult to write. But we can do it. Just capture the essence of the book. Like anything else, it takes practice. I get it when you say issues with the writing or the plot. I’ve always said: Don’t ask: Can I write? Instead ask: Can I tell a story? Most readers will forgive a little sag in a plot, but not if the characters are not compelling. thank you again for stopping by. don’t be stranger.
      Best, Jackie Weger

  2. Traci Hall says:

    Jackie, you are amazing and generous with what you learn! I have 294 reviews on Amazon, and 1314 ratings on Goodreads. I also have a friendly request for reviews at the backs of my books…my favorite way to get reviews is with Jay at Choosy Bookworm in the R&R program you co-created 🙂
    Thank you!

  3. Excellent information and advice for authors seeking reviews! Like Iola, I still get people asking me to review material I clearly do not read. In my case, I spotlight romance and mystery,with some images that are explicit or graphic and the text is usually for adults only, but I receive countless request to review children’s books or middle grade. I have a profile on Amazon and Goodreads, and my blog that clearly states what genres I will review. Does anyone ever bother the look at my profile? You are only wasting time – mine and yours, if you don’t do your homework. Editing problems don’t bother me, since I read so many ARC books. I’m used to mistakes, by now. What I look at is the story as a whole. I’m assuming an editor will clean up mistakes PRIOR to publication… I hope! Still the easiest way to garner reviews is by adding that all important paragraph at the end of your book and by being very patient.

  4. Dionne says:

    Thank you so much, Jackie! We love helping authors find readers, and our readers love giveaways, so it was a pleasure to feature your promotion. And your comment regarding editing and quality work is important. We don’t look at the number of reviews before we feature a book, but we read a sample. Any books not meeting our editing criteria, which ensures readers receive a quality read, are not featured. This way, we feel readers get a better deal and the authors who put in the work benefit :). And thanks again for all your support!
    Dionne from Booktastik :).

  5. Lu j Whitley says:

    I recently had a spot on Book Barbarian (who recently raised their prices slightly, but I managed to sneak in on the $8 introductory price). I was also featured as a pick of the Day on their facebook & twitter. On the day of the feature, I sold 20 copies of my $.99 sale title and had 9 residual sales the next day. Their estimate for $.99 promos was 35 sales, so 29 was near enough for me. You’re right Jackie, transparency is the name of the game. Even at the new, raised prices (
    Free ($25) | <$1 ($15) | $1-$2 ($20) | $2+ ($30) ) it's a pretty good return on investment, and I will most definitely use them again in the future.

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Your blog is tops! Nicholas C. Rossis. You offer many more guides to reviews than we do here on eNovel. What I hear most from top reviewers is that indie authors do NOT approach them with courtesy, or consideration for the types of books each reviewer prefers. Because we blog about reviews, eNovel often gets requests to review…we are NOT a review site. The sad fact is many new indie authors do NOT take the time to read reviewer instructions. Too, new indies often believe reviews sell books, so keep searching for more reviews and do NOT promote their books. Reviews are static unless they are read and they only get read when a book is in front of an audience–via promotion.

  6. Great tips! I currently have close to a thousand Amazon reviews on four books, and people tell me all the time that’s how they decide whether to buy a book on Amazon. Even the occasional critical review helps to sell books.

  7. Julie Frayn says:

    I’ve found the most effective method of garnering reviews (other than the wonderful book bloggers) is using KDP and giving the books away for free every once in a while. The first time I did that, not only did I get more than 62000 downloads, but Mazie Baby received more than 300 new reviews. It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead received about 175. This just on The UK site also saw an uptick, as did Goodreads.
    Julie Frayn
    Author of the multi-award-winning Mazie Baby (Mazie Baby)

  8. Jackie, thank you for continuing to share your experiences with us and everyone. I agree that being a successful indie author is a lot of work…and much of that work just begins after the book has been published.

    Many of our authors are glad for the help in getting honest reviews within the Read & Review Program (your idea!), and our readers really appreciate the chance to read free books they get to choose. It’s really a win-win and couldn’t have been set up without you. – Jay

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Thank you for the kudos Jay Lee. Here is the bottom line: I designed that Read and Review program and tried for months to interest promoters in the thing. My pleas fell on deaf ears. You were the ONLY promoter who listened. I love it that the R&R program is a success for both the indie author and Choosy Bookworm.
      Best to you and Choosy.

  9. RP Dahlke says:

    Good review programs are few, but Choosy BookWorm is one that does. I’m going to share this page with my FB authors.

    Also, Midlist promotions has taken a wrong turn with their stance on author promo submittals without a date. They say it’s so that they can accommodate more authors. I say they’re being idiots. I’ve allowed BookBub to chose my dates but they have 1 million mystery readers!

  10. Although I use the relevant paragraph at the end of all my books, I don’t get a large number of reviews from that because in the past year I haven’t done much promo. So, that paragraph can’t work on a large scale at the moment, but it does work, because I do get the odd organic review, and I am sure it’s because of it. I do get the odd review from reviewers too, but I get most of them from readers I meet on Facebook. I find it easy to market my books there, as they are set in Greece and there are a lot of groups on FB brimming over with readers always on the lookout for such novels. They are impulsive kindle buyers too. Last Saturday I sold 22 kindles and Sunday 12, just by posting on 4 FB groups once – it took me seconds. I didn’t get that result in my last KCD promo, which cost me $100 in ads and took a month’s work in preparation. So, in my opinion, Facebook is not to be sneered at, at least not in my specific case. Since July when I discovered this niche, Facebook has been granting me both regular sales and a standard supply of new reviews. I hope to do free promos again soon, and maybe I can get more reviews then – although I am not too hopeful. I find people are hoarders when it comes to their kindles and if they download a free book, no one can tell when they will get to read it – if ever. I believe there are better chances they’ll read the book if they have to pay for it, even if it’s 99c. Your tips about a rafflecopter and a review tour are great!

  11. Pete Barber says:

    Well, Jackie: I had 32 reviews on NanoStrike, all begged from review sites or Amazon customers who had read and reviewed novels in the same genre. I sent out over two hundred requests to get those reviews. It was a tedious and slow process, and I treasure each one. With your guidance, I ran a FREE promo and the rest of the reviews came unsolicited from folk who downloaded the book and responded to the short, polite note in the back of the novel. Simple is better. I read every review. I learn from what folk say. It teaches me what works and what doesn’t for a reader. Clearly, I’d like to make $$ from my writing, but proof that people are reading and appreciating my work comes a close second for me and keeps me motivated to write more and better.

    • Face4Audio says:

      I’ve used the begging method(which I prefer to call “polite stalking”) with pretty good success. I’ve got a polite form letter where I fill in the particulars:
      “Hello, Jackie, so sorry for stalking, but I saw your nice review of Marzipan, Marshmallows & Murder by Pete Barber, & I wonder if you would enjoy reviewing Cozy AUDIObooks?”
      Yes, it’s labor-intensive, but the beauty of it is that I’ve selected & solicited people who write good, detailed reviews. Then the trick is to KEEP that list of reviewers’ e-mail addresses, so you can quickly send out an offer of free-for-review books when your NEXT title comes out. So the list continues to grow, & there’s less work involved each time I re-contact the Usual Suspects with my newest release.

      Of course, as a narrator, I’ve got a new title coming out every month or so, & I have to be respectful of the genres everyone prefers. I keep notes on my reviewers’ preferences, when I last sent them a book(different folks have different turn-around times), & of course I need to know their screen names AND stalk the review sites, sending a polite thank-you-and-would-you-like-another letter whenever someone posts.

      I may be OCD about it, but I figure I put a lot of work into each title, & it’s totally wasted if it doesn’t get noticed.

      Jackie, thanks so much for this helpful & thought-provoking blog.

      • Jackie Weger says:

        Face4Audio: Thank you for sharing. I think your audio narration is a bit different and unique…You do not create the text. A writer must produce a published book. And that is what we address in the blog. Do you work with the author, too? It is very smart of you to promote the audio version. I have two audios and no help from the narrators at all. IMO, you are doing it right because you have established your contacts and reviewers and! YOU ASK FIRST. Very business-like and professional. On my end I do approach promoters to offer us slots to promote our audio editions. !0 of us had a promotion on Choosy and offered up to 10 free downloads in exhange for reviews. Some never posted. One of my reviewers who loved the book, did NOT like the narration. A learning experience. Again, thank you for adding to the discussion.

        Best, Jackie Weger

        • Face4Audio says:

          Well, marketing is marketing; many of the tips you are giving for indie authors, are helpful for those of us marketing audio as well. I don’t own my product the way you do—I’m an ACX narrator, so I don’t have any input about the price, & I have limits on free copies I can give away—but I still get royalties, so I would like it to sell.

          I mostly do this on my own, but I let the authors know what I’m doing, because (a)some of the people I cold-call on Goodreads will say they don’t do audio, & then I offer to pass along their info to the author for a free text-version(again, these are good review-writers!) and(b)some of my reviewers are bloggers, & I freely volunteers my author’s willingness to do guest blogs or giveaways. I’ve done some joint guest-blogs with a couple of authors, highlighting the book AND the audio process.

          I feel your pain about the Choosy experience; I got 15 hits for one title on audiobookblast, & only four reviews posted, BUT 2 of those reviewers have made my LIST, b/c they turned out to be serial, good-review-writers! So my main point above was that you’ve got to see it as a long game, sending out 10 or 15 messages per day, getting two or three responses, one or two of which will be willing to do multiple reviews. Like with a lot of the marketing you talk about here, it’s got to do with relationships. I think my reviewers know I shoot straight about the content of the books, & I’m not trying to send them anything they won’t like.

  12. Mimi Babour says:

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us, Jackie. I’ve learned so much from you. One thing I might add here is that I’ve started a Beta Reader club for my Romantic Suspense books and also for the Contemporary Romances. These are readers who already like my work and are happy to read it before it’s published and then are ready with their reviews as soon as it’s released. These folks are pure gold and I love having them as a part of my team.

  13. Truer words were never spoken, Jackie: “Successful indie authors step up their game. The above suggestions can work for you. But only will if YOU take action.”

    Although I’ve had good luck through Choosy’s Read & Review Program, I haven’t done much promo the past year. The main problem I’m having is with “categorization.” If I advertise my books in the paranormal romance genre, many readers are disappointed because the stories are not what they expected. If I advertise under contemporary romance, readers don’t like the “paranormal slant.” I have professionally designed covers, and my books are edited. However, if I don’t reach the right audience, I’m not going to get decent reviews, no matter how well my books are presented.

    I agree with Frossie about the “KU hoarders.” I’ve sold more books at .99 than I had pages read when I was parked in Select. I’d like to move forward, but I’m not sure what’s the best way to proceed. If anyone has ideas, please let me know. Thanks!

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Well Linda Lee Williams:You can shoot for a small foray into supernatural romance category by submitting for a Bookbub slot in a single Territory such as Canada. A slot for a .99 book only cost $20. Utterly painless.

      Good luck.

  14. TJ Shortt says:

    Constantly learning so much. Thanks again for sharing as much as you do Jackie.

  15. Nick Tory says:

    Awesome article. Add me to the list of grateful folks.

  16. Polly Iyer says:

    Great information. I’m running a free book next week, and I just added the review request.

    I’ve learned a lot since I joined eNovel Authors at Work. Wish I were better at the whole promotion thing, but I’m getting there.

  17. Stacy Juba says:

    Great post! I have hundreds of reviews for my past books, but am starting over again for my brand new book. I’m using Choosy’s Read and Review program, contacting bloggers who have reviewed my books in the past, and I have a blog tour booked that has an ARC option for reviewers. The book was accepted for review by Publisher’s Weekly so I am waiting for that. And I am in the process of booking other ads with sites such as booktastic, planning giveaways on Goodreads and Library Thing, and doing a 99 cent launch sale. Lots of work to get the review ball rolling!

  18. Great information, Jackie. I will definitely add the polite request for reviews for my upcoming second novel. I also plan to hire a “tour director” to take the book on a virtual book tour.

  19. Jenny Harper says:

    I’ll definitely be using this information for my next release! Thanks, as ever.

  20. […] than 150 sites, free and paid on which to submit your books. If you need reviews on your books, go HERE to get a head’s up on how to approach a reviewer plus some easily accomplished activities to […]

  21. Amy Vansant says:

    Keeping a list of past fans and offering them a free book for review for the next books has been a boon for me. Taking a little time to build that list saves HOURS of scrambling for review from strangers.

  22. […] For my next promotion, I may try a combination of free and paid sites. I’ll be using Jackie Weger’s recommendations. As she says on Review Mania II, […]

  23. Mary Smith says:

    Coming late to the discussion I know but wanted to say what a great post this is, Jackie – packed, as always, with useful information and news we can use.
    The biggest boost I had to the number of reviews for No More Mulberries was when I did a free promo and was fortunate to get a BookBub slot.
    Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with indie authors – even the ones who Eat Stupid for Breakfast. The information is there for them – up to them if they use it 🙂
    Mary Smith

  24. Another great blog post, Jackie! I know the sting of receiving 1 and 2 star reviews over preventable issues in my books. Professional editors are worth every penny to prevent unnecessary negative reviews that follow the book forever. Thanks for the great resource links!

  25. P.C. Zick says:

    Well, this is certainly a post that gets bookmarked since I’m gearing up to put out a new release, which is the third in a romance trilogy. The first two in the series will be free on Amazon in the days leading up to the release. I plan to follow many of the tips in your article, Jackie, and in the helpful comments. Thanks!

  26. […] For my next promotion, I may try a combination of free and paid sites. I’ll be using Jackie Weger has the following update on Review Mania II: […]

  27. […]  Ask the right questions and get the answers in writing. Yes, I know you need reviews. In eNovel Authors at Work we don’t trade reviews. We put this gem right after The […]

  28. Hello, Jackie!

    Wonderful finding your Review post in The Book Designer letter. Very helpful for a beginner writer like me. So much to do besides writing, that I keep postponing publishing the book because of my lack in experience and knowledge.

    Lots to digest here. I am bookmarking this post to go back to.
    Thank you so much for all the information!

    Blessings of love and joy!

    Katina Vaselopulos

    • Jackie Weger says:

      Hello, Katina! Thank you for stopping in. Boy! I get it about lack of knowledge. It took me a solid year to grasp what I was supposed to do
      and I learn something every day. The learning curve never stops. Good luck with your book.

      Best, from
      Jackie Weger

  29. […] founded a small group of indie authors, eNovel Authors at Work. Many of the members are exclusive to Amazon. Some are not. Members who have books on all venues […]

  30. […] because a book did not snag a coveted promotion slot, or sound off because readers don’t post reviews.  Which brings me to topic: Facebook discussion forums. No promotion […]

  31. Outstanding advice! I was unaware of the ‘virtual’ book tour model as well as the Amazon/blog review link issue.

    I will check out Enovels recommendations ASAP

    Thank you for helping to educate the community.

  32. […] that give indie authors advice on how to find reviewers and contact them. Funds for Writers and eNovel Authors at Work gives some tips, such as keeping in mind that not everyone who initially agrees to review your book […]

  33. Thank you for the update after the last Amazon policy change on 10/01/16. Reviewers are now advised to state they voluntarily reviewed inside the review. This is because by FCC law you HAVE to say your received the book for free if you have. So it would now be acceptable both by the FCC and Amazon to say in this case for example: “I received a free copy of this book and voluntarily chose to review.” Hope this helps fellow visitors in this post and I felt compelled to mention because personally I was at a loss to think of how to word it now!

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