Find German Readers on Lovelybooks to Get Reviews
In a previous blog post I introduced several different social reading platforms that German readers use to connect and chat about books. Lovelybooks.de is the largest of these in Germany, similar to Goodreads for English-speaking readers.
Judging from my own experiences with Lovelybooks, I can say that this site offers great opportunities for authors, especially new ones without a fan base, to connect with readers, get feedback for your book and collect reviews.
What you can do as an author:
-Set up book discussion groups (so-called Leserunde = reading circle). This can be, but doesn’t have to be connected to a giveaway of up to 20 copies of your book. Anyone who wants to participate (usually the winners who have received a book from you), will then start reading the book and post their thoughts in the corresponding book thread, discuss amongst each other and leave you feedback.
-Set up book giveaways, in which you can give away up to 20 print books or ebooks, without the discussion group (that means winners will receive the book, but they won’t necessarily share their feedback with you and the other winners).
Both of these options will result in reviews on Lovelybooks, but also other platforms like Amazon (some readers will, some won’t post there automatically, but you can always ask).
What to consider:
-For both giveaways or reading groups on Lovelybooks, it will be extremely useful if you can give away at least a few print copies of your book. It doesn’t have to be 20. 3-5 copies can be enough to entice more readers to participate. I have noticed that many readers on Lovelybooks still prefer print over ebooks and may not even possess e-readers.
-The longer the application time for the giveaway, the more applicants you’ll get. So plan for at least 2 weeks to allow readers to find your giveaway thread.
-Lovelybooks readers are voracious and critical. They will not spare your book if they didn’t like it and they expect high quality content.
My own experiences:
I published my first book in mid-March 2016 without any fanfare, only telling family and friends about it. Before I started any marketing for the book, I wanted to collect some reviews (and preferably not from people who know me in any way). So I decided to try out Lovelybooks and their book discussion groups, or reading circles.
I set up a “reading circle” (see the image above) including a giveaway of 20 books (10 ebooks and 10 paperbacks) and let the application run for about two weeks.
After these two weeks, I had received 31 applications. Interestingly, only about 5 of those wanted an ebook. So I changed my giveaway to 15 prints and 5 ebooks and mailed all of the copies to the 20 winners. You automatically get the addresses of the winners after the application phase, provided you agree to delete the information as soon as you’ve sent the books away.
About a week after the winners were announced, we officially started the book discussion round.
I divided the book into several sections (chapter-wise) to make it easy for people to post their impressions from each section without spoiling it for those who weren’t that far yet. Watching the lively discussion was very interesting. As the author, you probably shouldn’t meddle too much, but you can certainly answer questions or clear up things that may need clarification. But otherwise, I pretty much stayed in the role of the observer. It was fascinating to get a live feedback on all parts of the book ‑ something you won’t get from readers who bought your book and leave a review afterward.
While some of the readers went through the book in two days, the last readers finished the book about one and a half months later (but they also started later, due to time constraints). Eventually, only two of the twenty winners didn’t participate at all.
I received 13 reviews on Amazon, and 18 on Lovelybooks, and that was certainly worth it for me. I also gained a few mailing list subscribers.
Lovelybooks can be a wonderful tool for new authors to find your first readers and form a personal connection with them.
If you don’t speak German, you could ask your translator or hire a German assistant to set up a giveaway or book discussion group for you, or you could have a look at my online course where I show you exactly how to do that. If you were going to give away some print copies, it might be best to buy them on Amazon.de and have them shipped directly to the reader’s home address – depending on where you live.