In the world of self-publishing, there is nothing more important than marketing. That’s where the importance of book reviews come in.
Book reviews inspire confidence in readers. A book listed on Amazon without a single review probably won’t get very far. It tells your potential readers that people have enjoyed your book. It also allows your readers to figure out if the book is really for them. A reader’s description of your book may appeal to other readers where your cover copy doesn’t. For example, if someone describes a book on cooking as having ‘brilliant weekday meals,’ another reader, who may be looking for weekday meal recipes, may be more inspired to pick it up, so they don’t have to risk the money on an untested book. Readers’ descriptions help to narrow in on your market, highlighting aspects of the book that your ideal readers are looking for.
Importance of Book Reviews
Review culture on the internet is enormous, and many consumers are still wary of online shopping. Customers are particularly unsure of products with no consumer reviews, including books. Stores like Kindle are full of books, and some are much better quality than others. Regular shoppers are likely to have spent money on a poorly written book before and are now more cautious about buying. But if your book has several good reviews, the buyer’s faith in your product is higher.
Reviews work excellently with the algorithms used by online stores. The more reviews you get, the more shoppers are shown your book. The more shoppers see your book, the more sales you’re going to make. If you can legitimately tap into this, you have a fantastic marketing opportunity. However, most significant bookstores have strict guidelines on how you obtain reviews, and who can leave you a review. Amazon’s review policy disallows incentivizing reviews, or for anyone who knows you or the project (i.e., an editor or cover designer), to leave you a review. The good thing about this, though, is that book reviews are (almost) free marketing, and consumer-based, word-of-mouth marketing can be hugely successful.
With those guidelines in mind, how do you obtain legitimate reviews? There are several ways:
- Netgalley: at either $450 or $849, Netgalley is far from being your cheapest option, but it does give you access to book reviewers, as well as a spot in their newsletter (on the pricier plan). Netgalley allows you to check out reviewers, including the percentage of books received that they reviewed and the kind of stats they have on their blog or social media sites. This means you can curate your reviewers more carefully, and gain more reviews on high traffic sites.
- Bloggers: approaching bloggers is another great way to source reviews, but be sure to check out both the blog and the blogger’s review policy before you contact them. It helps if you connect with the blogger first by reading some of their posts and commenting or interacting with them on social media. Make sure you pick a blog that works for your book.
- Goodreads: Goodreads is a book cataloging site that lets readers create lists and track the books and authors they like. As an author, you can create an author page, link to your website and social media, and write a blog. You can also host giveaways of your book, which may lead to reviews. Some other social networking sites for readers and writers are Litsy, LibraryThing, Storygraph, and Byzans.
- Blog Tours: another expensive option, but if you want to get eyeballs on your books, consider paying a reputable company to organize a blog tour. Blog tours usually involve several blogs hosting content relating to your book and generally a giveaway, including copies of the book. Some bloggers may be provided with a copy of your book to create content for you, possibly even a review.
- Calls to Action: leave a polite reminder to review at the end of your book. If it’s an ebook, you can also provide the link for readers to hop straight over to the review page. It helps to tell people that just a few words and a star rating can help you a great deal.
Good reviews can get more people to buy and read your book. Encourage your readers to leave reviews, but remember not to break online store guidelines.