Professional Reviews for Self-Published Authors
If you’re wondering about how to land professional, top-tier reviews for your self-published book, you already know that reviews are a big deal. In fact, some would argue that getting good reviews for your book is the most important thing you can do to ensure success.
Reviews mean that other people read your book and that they liked it. They give you social credibility and prove that you’re more than a day-dreaming scribbler, but an author with a definitive appeal. They also give potential readers something to look forward to when they open a sample.
You need reviews.
However, not all reviews are created equal. Reviews are helpful no matter where they come from, and they’ll still help boost your book on algorithms and get more eyes on your copies. Standard book reviews fall in about three categories.
First are casual reviews. This group includes reviews written by friends, family, and your awesome street-team. You should aim to get a lot of casual reviews when you release, and rest assured that they are by far the easiest and most common to get.
The second group would include established reviews. Established reviews leave civilian readers behind. These reviews are written by other authors (you can include other writers from your writing group here) and book bloggers, people who are familiar with the craft and can confidently state the quality of your book as it sits next to comparable titles. With the growing number of book bloggers online, it’s a good idea to grab some of these mid-level reviews for your book.
The final group are the credentialed reviews: reviews written by professional reviewers. These are the reviews that appear most often in book descriptions and sometimes come with a medal of recommendation or an award you can post onto your book’s cover. Credentialed reviews look beautiful and will erase anyone’s doubt as to the quality of your book.
Unfortunately, higher-tier reviewers often reject self-published books or books that were sent them by the author directly. This includes a number of book bloggers but especially high-level professionals who could elevate your book to stardom simply by writing a few lines.
Why is this?
The shortest answer is that professional reviewers are constantly swamped with review requests and need to sift through to find the best books available. While many self-published books are of comparable quality to traditional books, the fact remains that most aren’t--and reviewers don’t want to waste their time on books unless the books have already been vetted by a publisher or agent.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get top-tier reviews. It just means you have to look harder to find them.
There is a small number of high-end reviewers who are willing to read self-published books, and even a few who exclusively stick to the self-publishing realm. I’ve listed some of the bigshots below with a detail describing each.
Yep, that’s right. Kirkus Reviews is one of the biggest names on the block, and they will be guaranteed to write a review for your book within a couple months of your submission. Keep in mind that this service does come with a cost, and a hefty one at that. Starting at $425, you should only stick with Kirkus if you are certain that your review will be a good one.
Chanticleer offers longer, more detailed reviews with a slightly faster turnaround rate for the same price. While Chanticleer’s reviews and awards are more associated with indie authors, they boast an impressive weight and can give you impressive optics.
Midwest Book Review
Midwest Book Review is one of the smaller options listed, but has a substantial cost-benefit: a $50 reading fee for ebooks and free reviews for physical copies. While not every book received will win a review, MBR prioritizes self-published and small press books and works to benefit authors who go against the grain.
Readers’ Favorite is not so much a reviewing platform as it is a collaborative and cooperative network of about 1500 reviewers and book bloggers ready to write your review. Authors have the option of submitting a book for free or paying a fee to guarantee one or multiple reviews. As a bonus, any books winning a 5-star review are awarded with a special silver badge that will look beautiful on your website and future books.
This “by authors, for authors” platform, IndieReader, is dedicated exclusively to self-published authors and is dedicated to giving you reviews that will help you sell books. At about $275, you can expect to get either an awesome review or helpful tips from veteran authors on how to take your writing to the next level.
Self-Publishing Review's service is a bargain for authors looking for quality reviews. With options as low as $89 and turnarounds as short as 7 days, Self-Publishing Review still offers strong returns with detailed reviews, badges, and social media promotions. This makes it a great option for writers who are looking to get off the ground fast without breaking the bank.
Are professional reviews worth the money?
You might have noticed reading these options that getting a credentialed review usually comes with a price. Since no review is guaranteed to be positive, it is critical that you provide the best quality, finished manuscript you can--edited, polished, and formatted to perfection.
As for how helpful these reviews are, authors disagree on the effectiveness. Self-publishing blogger Jane Friedman says that in most cases, it’s better to focus on getting more reviews than on higher-level reviews and to put a solid marketing scheme into place. Editor Kate Sullivan has a different opinion and says that adding a professional review to your book can easily compensate for the lack of a traditional publisher’s stamp, easily convincing others that your book is a worthwhile read.
What are your thoughts on professional reviews? Have you gotten one for a book? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below or join my Facebook group for self-publishing fiction writers for further discussion.