Utilizing the Book Blog Reviewer by Karen Jones Gowen, WiDo Publishing

Note: WiDo author, Charity Bradford, did a Guest Post last month on Organizing a Blog Tour. She had some great tips. This month Karen Gowen, author and Managing Editor at Wido Publishing, follows up with more tips on how to find Book Blog Reviewers and establish a relationship with them.

Reviews are key to getting sales for your book, and a valuable resource is book blogs. On my sidebar (click the link to see Karen’s sidebar) is an extensive list, from the super busy who may not have time for you, to the ones just starting out who will be happy to get your request.

My Top Ten Tips on Getting Book Blog Reviews:

1. Start early researching reviewers. Don’t wait until your launch. Look for reviewers in your genre. They will have an About Us page and/or a Guidelines for Requesting Reviews page. Read it carefully to see if they’ll be a good fit for you and your book.

2. Develop a relationship with the ones you pick. Follow their blogs and show up regularly. Comment on their posts. Thank them for their reviews. You yourself will need a blog to effectively implement this important step.

3. Pay attention to how they review a book. Some will copy and paste a Goodreads summary, and then give just a word or two about the book. Sorry, but this is not a review. You are looking for valid book reviewers, not just those willing to make an announcement about your new release. Watch for those who are intelligent, fair, and thorough in their reviews.

Helpful reviews will give highlights of the story, discuss themes, plot and characters, share how the story made them feel, talk about what they liked about it as well as what bothered them. “I don’t like the cover,” is not a review and is not helpful. You don’t want a reviewer who gushes over everything, or one who is too critical– you’re looking for a nice balance

4. Check out the title of their blog. It should be something that will display well with a quote or blurb on your website or your book page on Amazon. Again, check out my sidebar and see how cool some of these blog names are. They legitimize the review, add interest to the blurb.

5. After you have chosen your favorite reviewers and visited their blog so they know who you are and it’s finally time to email your review request to them, be sure to explain why you picked them.  Copy and paste requests are too easily ignored and refused. Make it personal.

6. Be patient but clear. Reviewers get a lot of requests and the good ones are busy. The good ones also read the book all the way through and take their time in writing a thoughtful response. Tell them your release date, give them a deadline if they ask, but let them know you’d still value their review regardless of when they get to it.

7. Don’t get upset if it’s not the 5 star review you had hoped for. Positive blurbs can be gleaned from just about any response. I once asked one of my English professors for a blurb. Her response after reading my ms of Uncut Diamonds, was critical and in the end said she couldn’t recommend it. But she did say that she really loved the dialogue. Cool. We went with that because “I really love the dialogue…” makes a fine blurb.

8. Thank them privately, even if the review was less than you had hoped for. No need to add a thank you comment on your Amazon or Goodreads site. You want to be invisible and not seem like you’re checking out all your reviews and commenting on them. That inhibits potential reviewers. But a private email showing appreciation is appropriate and should be sufficient.

9. Don’t pay for anything. There was a time when paid review sites were popping up everywhere. After the negative press that led to Amazon removing reviews, I wouldn’t think paying for reviews is even considered anymore. I never have done it or recommended it. Why should we pay? There are thousands upon thousands of book review blogs out there, with more popping up every day. They are book-lovers happy to get an ARC in exchange for a review. Do NOT pay for reviews. It’s completely unnecessary and even frowned on in the current climate.

10. Don’t stop now. After the excitement of your launch and those first initial reviews you may think, okay time to write the next book. Which it is, of course. But still continue following book reviewers, add to your repertoire, keep building those valuable relationships. New blurbs and reviews will add to the saleability of your book, even if it’s been out for awhile.


About Karen Jones Gowen: Born and raised in central Illinois, the daughter of a Methodist minister from Indiana and a school teacher from Nebraska, Karen Jones Gowen has down-to-earth Midwestern roots. Karen and her husband Bruce have lived in Utah, Illinois, California and Washington, currently residing near Salt Lake City. They are the parents of ten children. Not surprisingly, family relationships are a recurring theme in Gowen’s writing. She is the managing editor for WiDo Publishing and the author of four books, all of which fit loosely into the category of LDS Fiction. Karen’s website: karenjonesgowen.com. WiDo Publishing website: widopublishing.com

6 thoughts on “Utilizing the Book Blog Reviewer by Karen Jones Gowen, WiDo Publishing”

  1. I’m excited to see so many recent posts about how authors can work with book bloggers. It’s an important relationship and one about which much can be written!

    You make some excellent points. I especially agree with #1 and #7. I often get review requests on March 1 (for example) asking me to join a blog tour happening March 10 – 20. Sorry, but that’s just not going to happen. Definitely start early, especially if you’re trying to schedule reviews for a certain time period.

    Also, I have to emphasize the importance of sending bloggers well-written review requests. I get requests from authors/publishers/publicists EVERY DAY, many of them being compelling, professionally-designed queries from the biggest publishers in the world. Poorly-written queries will not get a second glance from me. If the writing in your review request makes me cringe, you better believe I won’t want to read your book.

    Just my two (or ten) cents 🙂

    1. Book bloggers perform an incredibly important function to writers and publishers. Anyone who doubts that should re-read the line in your comment about getting emails daily from “authors/publishers/publicists.” Thank you for your feedback, Susan! *hurries off to add Bloggin’ ’bout Books to my blog’s sidebar*

  2. Thanks for the tips, Karen. I will check out your site for more reviewers. This process seems daunting, but I appreciate people like you who share your knowledge.

    1. Hi Charissa, A less daunting place to start is new book bloggers, who are eager to get review requests as they are just “setting up shop.” One way to find them is through the A to Z Challenge. Nearly a thousand bloggers signed up for it last April, and there were some very good new book bloggers on the list that I discovered and added to my little collection 🙂 Good luck!

  3. I completely agree with starting early. I can’t tell you how many requests I get that need the review immediately or within a few weeks and seem upset that it won’t happen because I am booked. (I only review on Mondays so my calendar gets filled quickly.)

    I also am glad you mentioned thanking the reviewer even if it’s not a five-star. I spend a lot of time making sure that my reviews sandwich in some good with the not-so-good. It makes me feel like I’ve wasted my time when I get emails from the author arguing that there was nothing wrong with the book and it should have been all positive. All you’ve really done is burn a bridge by demanding my review of your book be five star because I probably won’t want to review you again. So, be polite. Treat reviewers how you want to be treated as an author. 🙂

    Great article and so timely! Thanks for doing it.

    1. Hi Julie! It is hard to fathom someone requesting a review at the last minute and then getting upset when you can’t do it. In fact, getting upset and arguing with a reviewer is just not appropriate, period! Never. It’s so important for writers to be professional where reviews are concerned. Writers are emotionally invested in the work, no question, and that leads to feeling like we need to defend and protect it as we would our child. But being professional requires that once the book is out there, we let it stand on its own.

      I appreciate your comment. We can’t have enough reminders about the appropriate ways to request and respond to reviews.

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