Great reviews and testimonials help sell your book; therefore any actions you take to promote your book should include such reviews and testimonials. They can be gold. They help persuade book lovers that your book deserves a place on their shelves. They also help convince bookstore chains, individual bookstores, and libraries to stock your book.
Where do you start? The answer is as early as possible. Most reviewers want an actual copy of the book. An e-book won’t work, although that perception is changing. If reviewers can get an advance copy prior to publication, so much the better. Some reviewers will accept galleys but they expect to receive copies of the finished book later. For example, the School Library Journal will accept galleys. These must be received at least two months prior to the publication date. This gives the Journal time to review your book and print the review in their newsletter, either close to or shortly after publication date. You should be aware, however, that some reviewers do not accept self-published books.
There are several ways to let potential reviewers know about your upcoming book. The obvious one is a press release. As well, social media is playing an increasingly large role. If you have a blog, you can discuss your work and its availability. Better still, you can contact those bloggers with an interest in your book’s topic. They may be willing to write a review and post it on their blog. You could also have a fan page on Facebook. You would encourage your followers to write their own reviews to post on your fan page, and on their own pages.
You are also going to request reviews from newspapers and magazines, especially magazines that have a particular interest in your topic area. The odds of your getting a review in a national newspaper or magazine are pretty small. Getting a review from a local newspaper or magazine, as I’ve done, is more likely. Find out the name of the person to whom your request should go. If you have friends with contacts in the media, especially radio, TV and newspapers, ask them to help you.
Testimonials come from people who have read your book and found it to be of value. It could be a business book with advice on accounting, something technical, such as how to use digital cameras, or simply a piece of fiction that gave special insight to an issue or situation. Sometimes a delighted reader will send you a spontaneous response. More likely you’ll have to contact those with your book and ask for a testimonial. That happened with one of my business books. I first called them, then followed up with e-mail. Out of about 20 requests, five actually responded. This brings me to my final point.
People, though usually well meaning, can be notoriously slow in delivering a review or testimonial, even when they have agreed to do so. You have to be persistent. It may take several calls, multiple e-mails before you get a result. Or you may not hear at all. The problem is that the testimonial is never urgent to those you approach, only to you. And don’t offer an incentive to complete that testimonial. It can bring up issues of integrity. So be persistent. If one source won’t cooperate, keep going to others until you get what you need. Great reviews and testimonials add credibility to your sales efforts. You need them. They help sell books.