5 Ways to Get Free Professional Reviews as a Self-Published Author

Although it may not always feel like it, being a self-published author has several advantages over traditional publishing

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When you self-publish, you can maximize your royalties, own the copyright, and have more control over your design and marketing budget.

However, getting professional book reviews is one area where traditionally published authors may have an easier go at it. Published authors and their agents have access to a network of professional reviewers, and these reviews carry weight — both with book buyers and potential readers.

Why Are Professional Book Reviews Important?

Professional book reviews help give your self-published book an air of professionalism and legitimacy. When respected authors and literary outlets review your book, it tells readers that your book is worth their time and money. 

In terms of your digital marketing strategy, reviews show up at the top of your book’s Amazon and Barnes & Noble page. Professional reviews by established authors and other industry professionals can persuade bookstore buyers to stock your book, and persuade readers to give your title a chance.

The truth is, many professional reviewers don’t review self-published books. And even for the ones that do, some can cost hundreds of dollars — an expense that most self-published authors aren’t thrilled to shell out. 

So how can you bust through the glass ceiling and get professional reviews on your self-published book without breaking the bank?

That’s where we can help. We’ve rounded up 5 ways self-published authors can get free professional reviews and sell more copies of their book. 

1. Pander to Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly is an industry giant for book news and reviews. PW focuses on all aspects of book publishing, including business news, reviews, bestseller lists, commentaries, and more.

Tens of thousands of book reviews come out of Publishers Weekly every year — including reviews of self-published books.

While reviews from big titles typically show up in the main Publishers Weekly magazine, self-published books are reviewed in its sister publication, PW Select.

To get a review in PW Select, your self-published book has to be on sale and available in the US market before you can submit your book for review.

PW reviews are shared across major sales venues like Amazon, iBooks, Google, Barnes & Noble, and more. They appear right at the top of your book’s listing, giving your self-published book the professional edge it needs to sell more copies.

2. Make Good with Midwest Book Review

Midwest Book Review is a well-known publisher that is known for reviewing books by small presses and self-published authors.

Just like PW Select, your book needs to be published before you request a review. To request a review, send two print copies of your book to MBR, along with a cover sheet detailing information like title, description, ISBN, price, and any other helpful press info that can make your book stand out. Speaking of, it’s a smart idea to send a press kit or publicity letter with your contact information and your accolades as an author. 

Mail your package to:
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575

If you don’t have a print edition of your book, you can pay $50 to get your eBook considered for review. Email [email protected] or [email protected] with the subject line “Reader Fee Request.” Include the same type of information as you would in the cover sheet above. 

3. Find Friends at Foreword Magazine

Foreword Magazine has been reviewing indie and self-published books for over 15 years.

Foreword only runs 150 reviews per issue, and puts out four issues per year. That’s why it’s important to ensure sure your book stands out by making sure its readability is top notch — that means proofreading, choosing a professional-looking cover and interior design, perfecting your back cover copy, and more.

Unlike PW and MRB, you need to submit your book at least four months before publication to get a review. Be sure to include a cover letter that lists your book’s, title, genre, ISBN, price, page count, format, publication date, description, and any other publicity information, including a knock-out author bio.

Foreword only accepts books that have a print edition. But they do take digital review copies so you don’t have to mail a print version of your book.

You can email your digital copy and cover sheet to [email protected].

4. Ask for Amazon Book Reviews

Although getting a plain old Amazon book review from a regular reader isn’t the same as getting a review from professional book review providers, every book review matters.

One great strategy for getting more book reviews on Amazon is to create a list of Amazon reviewers who routinely read books in your genre, and asking if they would like a free review copy of your book. 

Although Amazon doesn’t allow product sellers to give away free physical products in exchange for reviews, you can give away free review copies of your book for this purpose.

To get even more targeted with your requests, use the tool Book Review Targeter to help find book reviewers who have left reviews on books in your niche or genre. This tool will help you find their email address or website, so you can contact the reviewer and offer a free copy of your book with the goal of scoring a review.

5. Get GoodReads Book Reviews

GoodReads is like Facebook for book nerds. Getting book reviews on GoodReads can help you get more exposure and sales from these lovely nerds.

There are many free GoodReads groups you can join to network and connect with readers. And there are hundreds of GoodReads groups dedicated to helping authors get book reviews.

But to be part of the book community, you’ve got to pull your weight. Joining a group and asking for reviews without offering the same service will likely lead to you being ignored or getting kicked out.

Make sure you add as much value as you can to the group, read their rules, and follow their guidelines before soliciting for a book review.

Looking for more ways to increase your book’s visibility on GoodReads? From leading a Q&A to creating paid ads, discover how to promote your book on GoodReads »

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

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After a disappointing proof of my labor-intensive and much loved manuscript from another printer, I decided to try Steuben Press. Based on recommendations from many of my publishing team who are all members of the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA), I submitted my book to Adam and his staff.

Their proof was perfect! The illustrations were crisp, the print clear, and the construction high quality. But the cover! Absolutely beautiful and softly glossed, Steuben's production added depth to the colors and popped the fine design by my cover artist. My book shimmers on the shelf!

Now I sell only Steuben's copies by hand and feel confident that my readers are receiving the best product reflecting my years of effort and passion for my subject.

– Sunny Weber, Denver, CO