August 16

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7 Reasons to Care About Reader Reviews

By Boni Wagner-Stafford

August 16, 2021

#authors, #editing, #indieauthors, #selfpublishing, #Writing

Why are reader reviews so important?

As an author, you likely care deeply what people think of your book. But why are reader reviews so important? Here are seven reasons to care about reader reviews.

1. Reader reviews tell other readers what to expect.

If there’s one thing that almost all avid readers have in common, it’s that they love to talk about books. They can get very passionate indeed when they start telling you about the books they’ve read. The most obvious advantage of reader reviews is that they tell other potential readers what to expect. They can tell us what the book is about, what the writing is like, even what emotions the book conjures up. If your book gets good reviews from people who have read it, others may want to read it too. And that leads to more sales.

2. Reader reviews improve visibility.

Reader reviews are invaluable in helping to improve your book’s visibility. For example, the more reviews your book has on Amazon, the likelier it is that it will pop up as a suggested product when someone is trying to navigate the thousands of books available on the website. Many positive reviews can also result in a higher ranking. This in turn increases the chances of people actually buying your book. After all, very few people scroll beyond the first or second page of listed books before making a purchase.

3. Reader reviews can get you promotional deals.

E-book retailers often have promotions such as Amazon’s Kindle Monthly Deals, where your book enjoys greater visibility on the site for a specific period of time. Books with more reviews usually get picked more readily than those with only a handful of reviews. So, lots of positive reviews can score you that coveted spot on the promotions list. These promotions often go hand in hand with a reduced selling price for the duration of the promotion. A lower selling price for a short period can be a good thing: it may encourage more people to buy your book, and more reviews, which then lead to more sales, even once the promotion is over and your book is selling at its regular price again. 

4. Reader reviews can help you get a BookBub deal.

BookBub can be an author’s best marketing friend. This free service provides subscribers with promotional deals, recommendations and author updates. Unlike sites like Amazon, BookBub doesn’t sell books but simply tells its subscribers about the books that are available on retail sites like Amazon, Nook and Apple Books. However, BookBub doesn’t recommend just any book. In fact, the vast majority of books submitted to BookBub are rejected. With lots of good reader reviews, your book may stand a higher chance of being accepted and once you have BookBub’s support, the sky’s the limit.

5. Reader reviews can help you get you book into indie bookstores.

If your book is available in print form, and you want it to be sold not only in the major book chains but also in reputable indie bookstores, reviews can help you make this happen. How? (Let’s put aside the fact that today the vast majority of books are sold online, not in bricks-and-mortar stores.) Good reviews on a site like Goodreads can help you to convince those indie bookstores to stock your book. They can also help convince the store’s employees to read your book and make it their “staff pick”, which may lead to more sales.

6. Reader reviews can lead to bigger things.

When readers love your book – and say so on a public platform like a review site – this can help your book get noticed by those oh-so-important role-players in the industry. As a new indie author, your chances of getting reviewed by a publication like the New York Times Book Review or Publishers Weekly are close to none. Get lots of great reader reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, though, and it just might pique the interest of these renowned publications. Before you know it, you have a review in the New York Times and readers will take you more seriously as an author. It’s not only the professional reviewers who might notice your book, though. Traditional publishers may notice all those five-star reviews on Goodreads and decide that you’re the next big thing. This can lead to a deal with one of the Big Five publishers. Who knows, you may even score a movie deal.  

7. Reader reviews can help you improve.

We actually advise our authors not to read the reader reviews posted on retailer pages, like Amazon because they have a publisher that can monitor and filter the feedback for them. If you do decide to read them, you’ll want to prepare yourself in advance. Reading reader reviews of your book can prove to be an unnecessary emotional roller-coaster. “Oh, a five-star! Yay!” And next you take a look at the two-star review and your heart sinks through the floor because you just knew you were no good at this writing thing.

But there can be valuable feedback in those reviews. Varied opinions and preferences aside, it is possible to spot trends in the feedback coming in from the reviews. Did readers have a tough time following your book’s storyline? Maybe there’s a problem with the structure. Are too many people commenting on typos? Heaven forbid, because I’m sure you invested in a professional proofread, right? You can use this feedback to help you improve. The key is to listen to what your reviewers say without collapsing into a heap of self-doubt.    

And never engage directly with reviewers who have posted negative reviews.

Why do you care about reader reviews?

What did we miss that’s on your list of reasons to care about reader reviews?

What do you think?

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