Sunday, February 05, 2012

Those Elusive Book Reviews

Lately, I’ve read a number of complaints from authors whose books have been downloaded hundreds of times (many through the KDP Select program), yet they haven’t received any reviews. Some authors indicated that for every 2,000 downloads, they’ll receive maybe one or two reviews, and those might be negative. So, why aren’t authors getting reviews, how do they go about acquiring reviews, and should they even bother?

Although I have no concrete answer to the first question, I can speculate that the huge rise in free ebooks has inspired Kindle owners to download lots of books, few of which they actually have time to read right away, if ever. Heck, I’m still reading through print books I acquired ten years ago (yes, I’m on a mission to deplete my to-be-read pile). Because I review books, I’m a careful reader, and these days I’m averaging four books a month. Now, if I had a spiffy new Kindle and downloaded 200 books in my favorite genres, or by my favorite author, it would still take me four years to get through them all. In other words, writers need to learn patience.

Of course, it’s quite possible that readers have given the free downloads a try, didn’t like the books, and won’t look at them again. The book was free and it’s disposable. After all, no money was invested. Then there will be readers who liked the book, or even loved it, but simply don’t have time to write a review, or don’t feel they write well enough to attempt it.

This brings me to the question, should authors even bother seeking reviews? The answer is yes. Authors far more experienced than I maintain that reviews still sell books, and I agree. Reviews not only generate sales, but they help spread the word about a book. Word of mouth sells ebooks just as well (if not better) than it sells print books.

I’ve also read that, given the enormous number of ebooks out there, more readers are turning to online reviews to decide which book to buy. Many established reviewers in the print world also now have online columns. In fact, a growing number of reviewers are losing print space in their newspapers, so they’re actually producing more online reviews than ever.

So, how does one go about acquiring reviews? Through diligent research. Investigate other books in your genre or topic and see who’s reviewing them. Social networking sites like Goodreads have forums for people who are willing to review books. To help you get started, here’s a list of reviewers of both print and ebooks. Find those who are willing to read self-published, ebook authors in your genre, and follow their guidelines. Good luck! (offers a free book reviewer list, or a more comprehensive PDF download to purchase) (this blog provides a good list) (blog by Anastasia V. Pergakis provides a 797 links to reviewers!)

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at and on Kindle at


Barbara Ellen Brink said...

Thanks for the links to reviewers, Debra! So helpful. I always feel like I'm spending way too much time searching for people to review and getting no where
I actually put my first book, Entangled, for free right before Amazon came out with the KDP program, and since I had a sequel already I have had quite good luck with the process. So far about 8% of the people returned to buy the next book. Getting reviews from all those people is another thing. Entangled was actually downloaded for free at Amazon over 140,000 times but I've only received about 40 new reviews. So, either most of the people haven't yet read the book or they don't like to write reviews:)
I have noticed that more people left reviews at Barnes & Noble, but I think that is because they can be anonymous and they can just click the stars rather than write something if they want to. So the reviews are shorter but lots more of them.

Author Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for this helpful post, Debra.
I've nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award.
Good luck

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thanks to Barbara and Leanne for your comments! And thanks Leanne for the nomination. I didn't know it existed!!