Book Reviews vs. Book Sales: The Self-Published Author’s Catch-22

by | Dec 30, 2015 | Inspiration for Self-Published Writers, Marketing and Promotion, Other Helpful Information, Self-Publishing | 3 comments

Garnering reviews is instrumental to successful book sales, especially on Amazon. Sales analysts and industry influencers will tell you that getting highly rated reviews on Amazon will increase book sales—and they’re right. But if you’ve self-published your book, how do you get reviews if no one’s bought the book yet? You need reviews to sell books…but you need to sell books to get those very reviews! How can you escape this catch-22? Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can get your book reviewed even before you make a single sale.

How To Garner Book Reviews Before You’ve Sold A Single Book

Query Local Magazines, Newspapers, And Radio Stations. Most local periodicals and radio stations take pride in showcasing the budding talent found in their geographic region. So query your local media outlets for book reviews and interviews. Nothing is better for unknown authors than creating local loyal fans. They’ll probably be receptive to your approach and may help build a grassroots fan base that you can take with you on your journey to becoming the next best-selling author!

Contact Industry-Influencing Bloggers. Take advantage of the many bloggers whose opinions on books and publishing are well respected in the industry. Reach out and ask if they’d consider reviewing your book before it’s released to the public. Many book review bloggers enjoy giving attention to new and lesser-known authors, and their circles of influence can often be in the thousands.

Reach Out To The Goodreads Community. There are many reviewers who use Goodreads to share their opinions of new books from emerging authors. Being reviewed by well-regarded reviewers on Goodreads has the added benefit of using a platform many people turn to for book purchase recommendations.

Ask Friends And Family. Friends and family are always willing to help kick-start your author career. Give a few copies of your book to friends and family members and ask them to post their reviews online on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Since those close to you may have a bias, make it clear to them that you are looking for an honest review—not paragraphs of platitudes. The more truthful your friends and family are in their reviews, the less likely you’ll be to have disgruntled buyers grousing online about being misled.

Can’t I Just Pay Someone For Reviews?

Though this is an option, remember that it’s important for reviews of your work to be credible. Since your book wasn’t printed by a traditional publisher, people will rely more heavily on reviews when making a purchase. If the reviews you’ve purchased are insincere, readers will recognize the phoniness and voice their displeasure online. While good reviews help sell books, dishonest ones—no matter how stellar they claim your book to be—will ultimately result in lost sales and fans. Don’t ruin readers’ trust by buying the five-star reviews that are available on Amazon, or by giving in to other scams.

QUESTION: Have you had success getting people to review your writing in the past? Share your experience with us!


  1. Nancy Janes

    I have paid over $350.00 to Kirkus for a review. I have gotten better reviews from the Midwest Review eBook reviewer at a lesser price. Whether the reviews are worth the money paid is another Matter. I have gotten free reviews and books given in exchange for reviews. In my opinion it’s okay to pay for an honest review. I’m still not convinced as to the importance of a lot of reviews. Amazon places importance on them, but the reader does not always seem to do so from my research of the literate to the more vapid books popular today.

  2. Yawer Qazalbash

    I have fixed ‘Previews’ for my novel–A woman In Time Transit and another non-fiction and approached many but perhaps those gentlemen did not know where they could load their reviews.
    Kindly mention an easier place where (for instance on Amazon) they should load their reviews?

  3. Kristen Steele

    Getting quality book reviews is a big spoke on the marketing wheel once your book has been published. If you are a relatively unknown author, readers are going to do their research before they purchase your work, and reader reviews are an important part of that research process.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Find An Article

Recent Articles



Thank you so much for all the amazing help you provided! I’m already thinking about my next project and you better believe I plan to use Self-Publishing Relief!

—Bianca Chambers Carter, Writer

Read Bianca’s review!



Using Self-Publishing Relief is the only way I would ever consider publishing my work… the process was seamless: They answered all of my questions and always kept me apprised of the next steps.

—John McCord, Writer

Read John’s review!


The team at Writer’s Relief and Self-Publishing Relief was supportive and helpful in creating my chapbook — from sending multiple cover design options to patience and thoroughness during review rounds. They made the publishing process easy and enjoyable!

Laurin Becker Macios, Poet

Read Laurin’s review!



I have found my people with Jill, Carol, Dave, Joey, Ronnie, and all the fellow “bookies” at Self-Publishing Relief. Their level of expertise is seasoned and savvy for navigating through the indie publishing landscape, as we established the imprint Occupy the Word Publishing. What is more, the team’s enthusiastic tenacity to solve difficult issues and create new opportunities in developing serious readership for my novels makes it a powerful pleasure to work with them. 

King Grossman, Novelist

Read King’s review!

Thinking about self-publishing?
Receive your FREE copy of our helpful guide...


Act now! Enter your name and email on the right to receive..
  • Design tips to boost your book's marketability
  • Insider secrets for writing the best back cover book blurb
  • The importance of a flattering headshot

Send Me My FREE Guide!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Pin It on Pinterest