How I Got More Book Reviews Using Story Cartel

StoryCartel logoI’m often asked by my clients how to go about getting book reviews for their latest title. I have a few of my own ideas, but thought I’d open up the question to members of the Book Marketing group on LinkedIn. It was there that I learned about a site I’d never heard of before called Story Cartel. I thought you might like to hear about it too.

If you are willing to offer your book in digital form on Story Cartel for 30 days, and can offer $30 worth of Amazon gift cards for a contest, volunteers will download your book (for free), read it, post an honest book review on Amazon (and wherever else you request), notify Story Cartel of their review, and then be entered into a drawing for one of the gift cards. There are three winners (that’s why 3 are needed).

The idea intrigued me, but I wanted to make sure it was worthwhile before recommending it to my readers.

The Research

In researching what others were saying about Story Cartel, I learned that it was co-founded by Jeff Goins, someone I interviewed here last year and who is a protege of Michael Hyatt, former CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

I also learned that some people only got a few reviews from sharing their book on Story Cartel, and others got 100 reviews or more. I was able to identify a few factors for the huge difference though. For those who received little traction from Story Cartel, they had a highly specialized topic for their book (so a limited audience) and seem to have done little to let their own network know the book was available for download.

Those who did really well, followed Story Cartel’s suggestions for how to engage your audience, and were consistent in promoting the availability of their book. Plus, their topic appealed to a broader audience making it more likely that people who didn’t know the author might still be interested in the download offer.

As with any marketing project, you get out of it what you put into it, and if your product only has limited appeal, no amount of marketing is going to change that.

Since reviews have a direct impact on search rankings in Amazon, every little bit helps, and Story Cartel seems to answer that ever present question of “how do I get more book reviews?”

The other great aspect of this though is, everyone who downloads a copy of your book at Story Cartel, whether they review it or not, has to provide their e-mail address. So it’s a great way to build a list of self-identifying prospects. They’ve single-opted in by requesting your book. Perhaps they’ll also be interested in your speaking engagements, ancillary products and subsequent books.

You can’t just start marketing to them, but you can put them in their own mailing list (for example, in MailChimp) in a matter of minutes, and then send everyone a thank you note for downloading your book, and an invitation to join your mailing list. Done right, it could be a quick and easy (and low-cost) way to grow a targeted list of people interested in your topic and events.

The Experience

Based on what I discovered in my research, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. I offered my latest book, “The Best is Yet to Come,” on Story Cartel. It was listed for 21 days, and then reviewers had another week beyond that in which to get their reviews in before the contest ends and Story Cartel announces the winners.

Since it was available over the holiday season, I have to admit that I was not consistent about promoting my book. I did use all of my social networks, including my mailing list, to let people know of the book’s availability, and I blogged about it as well. During the last 24 hours of the giveaway, I also ran a $30 Facebook ad.

At the final count, I had 131 downloads. 43 of those were from people I already know and have a relationship with. So, a significant number of the downloads came from people who don’t know me or my work.

As of the time of this posting, I have 24 reviews on Amazon, about half of which came from people who downloaded the book on Story Cartel. 8 of those 12 reviews were from people I already have a connection with, so they’re more likely to support me with a book review.

There are still a few days left for the people who downloaded my book to post their reviews and join in the Amazon gift card giveaway. So, my plan here is to reach out individually to each of the people who downloaded the book, thank them for their interest, and see if they have any questions. One person I spoke with said that this significantly increased the number of reviews he got.

So, would I call my Story Cartel experience a great success?

I would have loved to have gotten 100 reviews out of it. But my biggest gap in marketing the book is that my existing mailing list is not part of my target audience for the book. This topic is a departure from everything else I’ve written. So it was like starting from scratch.

Now, I have more followers on my Facebook page, more book reviews on Amazon, and a self-selected (albeit small) mailing list of people interested in my topic.

Yes, I would say that my Story Cartel experience was a great success. And the nice thing is, Story Cartel doesn’t require the book to be a new release. So, I could effectively go back and do the same thing with my other titles whenever I want, giving each a boost. Not bad!

I’ll post a recap next month revealing the final total of book reviews gained from this experiment.


  1. Abby Vandiver says

    Hi Tara, I would be interested in reviewing your book. The book seems very interesting. I can take a mobi copy and will give it an honest review. My rank on Amazon is about 19,000 with a hundred reviews. Please email me at Thanks.

    • Hey, Abby! Thanks for the offer. Sorry for the delay in responding. I’m still figuring out Disqus comments, which aren’t nearly as friendly as WordPress comments were… I’m sending you an e-mail shortly. Thanks!

  2. Richard Houston says

    Tara, I followed your advice and gave SC a try — I’ve never been so frustrated with a web site. It took them days to approve my novel and told me to launch it after I had already gone through the process. So, I re-launched it and they told me I needed to pay again. I’ve tried contacting them on this issue and am still waiting for a reply.

    • Hi, Richard. Just wanted to tie up this conversation that we took offline and let my readers know that your issues were ultimately addressed and, as you stated elsewhere, you were satisfied with the outcome. It truly is a great service, and one I’m still happy to recommend. The issue you encountered with them was the first I’d ever heard of and was primarily due to misunderstandings.

      • Richard Houston says

        Yes, SC seems to be a good site. They are a little slow approving a book, but other than that they seem to be legitimate. I did try them again, and this time waited for my book to be approved. Unfortunately, I decided to run a BookBub ad in the meantime so I had to put my book in Amazon’s Select program in order to give it away. This means I can’t list my book on SC for 90 days, plus now it doesn’t need any more reviews. That BookBub promotion brought in nearly 100 reviews.


  1. […] discussed my reasons for giving away my book for free and how I got more book reviews using Story […]

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