One hard thing for many authors is asking people for book reviews. It sounds easy enough, but often it’s deceptively difficult to request. You don’t want to feel intrusive, or sound desperate. And you definitely don’t want to bribe people into leaving dishonest reviews.

But the primary driver of sales today is word-of-mouth. That means honest reviews are what sells about 90% of the time! A variety of reviews also tend to highlight other aspects of the book that the marketing blurb might not have. And often, the more reviews you get — the more you’ll continue to get.

So how do you get more of them?

Don’t Confine Yourself to Launch Week

One of the challenges with asking for book reviews is knowing when to do it. The good news is, there’s multiple right options! You don’t have to wait until launch day — or stop hard when launch week ends.

Start planning for those requests ahead of launch week. How will you be building buzz for your book? If you’re running a giveaway, sharing advance copies with select individuals, or even offering guest posts or interviews about the book’s topic — those are prime opportunities to request reviews on bookseller sites like Amazon! But it doesn’t stop there. Plan to send out a short reminder on the day your book actually launches, and then again (only to those who haven’t yet left a review) a week or two later.

We recommend continued, diligent work in capturing names of those who can help. Make connections with and outline specific asks for each, along with individualized timelines and plans for outreach.

Make Your Ask Compelling

When you do send out your requests, don’t just copy and paste or send out a mass-email to everyone on your list! Nothing will end up in the spam folder faster than an long, impersonal email full of boring details that they didn’t ask for in the first place.

Be personal. Use a mail-merge tool to add people’s first names, or consider sending out individual messages personalized with people’s names and a particular point of connection (shared interest, fellow author, etc.).

Be concise. Keep it 5 sentences or less — just the facts, ma’am! No need to include all the publication details — just the book title, a 1-2 sentence synopsis, the launch date, and a link to where they should share a review.

Be polite. Don’t beg, push, or manipulate. Simply ask nicely and politely, and assume your readers will respond in kind. Most people will, if you give them a chance.

For example, here are few sample requests you could customize to fit your book and audience:

  • Pre-launch request: “I noticed you share frequent reviews of [your genre/topic], and [your book title] is the newest title in that category. It’s for [your audience] who want to [your intended goal] in [your optimal timeframe]. If that sounds helpful or interesting, I’d love to send you a free copy. All I ask in return is that you share an honest review on Amazon [link here]. If that sounds good, hit reply and let me know!”
  • Launch day request: “Launch week for [your book title] is finally here, and I could really use your help in making this a great week! A short review on Amazon would mean so much — here’s the link. Could you also take a moment to share a quick tweet or Facebook post with your networks? Here are a few suggested posts.”
  • Follow-up request:Have you had a chance to start reading [your book title]? I’d love to know what you found helpful or encouraging. Could you take a few minutes to share some thoughts on Amazon? Here’s the link.”

Think Outside the Box

Get creative. Don’t just ask the same old connections you always reach out to — look at their connections and networks, and relevant groups in your community, top leaders in your field and their organizations, and even ‘professional’ book reviewers via bookseller sites and publishers. The more people you ask — the more responses you’re likely to get in return.

Also, don’t limit yourself to asking for book reviews. As important as they are for increasing exposure, helping with marketing, and showing public support for your book — they aren’t the only thing you should (or could) be requesting. Consider using these same guidelines to ask for endorsements, media introductions, event invitations, and social shares.

The sky’s the limit!

Want more tips like this? Download our new free ebook, Download here., or check out our online resource center for DIY book marketing tips.