The more reviews your book gets on platforms such as Amazon or Goodreads, the more sales it leads to. Particularly on Amazon, five or more reviews (even if they’re not all glowing) makes a vast difference to your book’s visibility. With this number of reviews, your book is given more priority and is therefore even more likely to make sales. And verified reviews, those left by people who have bought your book, have even more value.
But how do you get reviews? Don’t review it yourself – ethics aside, if you self-publish and have a KDP account, Amazon will be able to link and block you. Likewise, if you login to Goodreads via Facebook, they have information on you and your friends list and can use this information to check against reviews left. The latter is anecdotal but I have heard it happen, and bearing in mind that Amazon own Goodreads, they don’t want their review system being gamed so I can easily imagine they use all data at their disposal. And finally, on the “what not to do”, don’t pay for reviews – again these are frowned upon and are likely to be blocked. Instead ask your readers, friends and family. Put a page in the back of your book and ask for reviews. Use social media.
Receiving rejections from publishers is hard; your writing is a representation of you and it’s personal. All that time you’ve taken to lovingly craft those words and what the heck, someone doesn’t like it? So first, if the publisher hasn’t specified “no feedback”, then ask what it was. Perhaps your work was too similar to another piece in an anthology call. Or maybe your submission didn’t fit into their theme or you misread the guidelines.
Second, have you considered self-publishing? If you have several short stories that are loosely themed, or longer pieces then with a bit of work (or paying someone to format them for you) you can upload to Amazon KDP, and Draft2Digital and/or Smashwords and start selling. Make sure you get a great cover design that fits your niche and spend time crafting your blurbs and you’ll have a great offering. Next, start promoting!
Third, look for hybrid publishers in your niche, such as ourselves. We take a 40% royalty share and in return take your raw file and turn it into something beautiful on a range of platforms. As a warning, there are publishers who charge you an upfront fee (so-called “vanity publishers”) and if you decide to do this, spend a LOT of time researching.
Finally, you could file your story away and wait for another suitable submission call; perhaps you’ll need to tweak your work or maybe make heavier edits, but what one publisher rejected, another one may love so it’s definitely worth a try.