When was the last time you purchased something without researching it first or looking at reviews? Unless you are an impulse buyer, you likely take some time to understand a product or service prior to purchasing to ensure that it will meet your needs and be worth the investment. And, lucky for us, in today’s fast-paced, internet-driven world, this research can happen in seconds. Consumers who feel strongly one way or another about a product are more likely to leave reviews, including book reviews.
Will the new piece of furniture fit in the space you are going to use it in? Can you get that electronic in rose gold to match your current vibe? Is there a knock-off option of the latest gadget that will still be everything you need and more, and stay within your budget? Do you have to have the new option or will the gently-used option suffice? Is it worth all of the craze and will it really make your life easier? Is that book going to deliver on its promise?
No matter the price point, when someone is trading their time and money for something in return, you can bet they are going to be doing this research. And, the first place they go to get this type of feedback? You guessed it … reviews.
Book reviews matter. There, I’ve said it. And I don’t just believe it as truth, I know it is. You aren’t going to purchase a house cleaning service without gathering testimonials first. You aren’t going to invest in a new appliance without becoming educated on what others identify as the best and worst features of it. And, most people aren’t going to purchase a book without reading its reviews to see if it is worth their investment.
As an author, among the other marketing strategies that you navigate upon launching your book and maintaining momentum, one of your most important strategies should be ensuring you regularly get book reviews. Here are some tips to help.
The Power of Book Reviews
Never underestimate the power of a review. In fact, they aren’t just nice-to-haves, they are must-haves for authors to gather! Book reviews are game-changing for authors for several reasons:
- They assist those who may be considering purchasing a book online the ammunition that they need to finalize that decision, which could lead to more book sales.
- They provide you, the author, with powerful promotional content that you can turn into social media graphics, utilize on your marketing materials, and incorporate into your website as testimonials to increase your credibility.
- And Amazon book reviews, especially those by Amazon verified purchasers, proves to the largest book selling platform that your book is worthy of their organic promotion.
Who Should Write a Review
Well, any and all readers should, although you may have some limitations by those who know you and/or related to you. Here are some groups of people to consider asking to write reviews for you:
- Consider your book’s target audience, and find individuals who are within it, asking them to read and review your book.
- Pull together a book launch team with one of the primary goals to help you build your book’s credibility by writing a review.
- Individuals who purchase your book during your speaking engagements, workshops, etc. that you see are passionate about your topic and your message.
Be sure to ask anyone who purchases a copy of your book (or individuals you gift a copy to) to write and post a review. Most people would be happy to, and have every intention of doing so, but may need a few subtle reminders to do so. Life gets busy and they may forget, but a gentle nudge on how this can make a difference for you and your book’s success may encourage them to post one!
How to Write a Book Review
When providing an advance reader copy (ARC) or encouraging a reader to post a review, there are a few specifics that you may want to provide to ensure that the reader knows how to provide you with the strongest testimonial possible.
- Consider the rating. Ideally, of course, you’d love all 5-star reviews. (Wouldn’t we all!?) However, take a deep breath and know that a 4-star review is awesome too. The goal is for the reader writing a review to provide an honest testimonial and if that means it’s a 4-star review, fantastic. I like to encourage my reviewers to post an honest review of how much they loved the book and found it helpful in their lives.
- Some readers would love some guidance on how to write a meaningful review. I like to provide readers with the following questions to ponder either during their time reading the book or upon concluding and prepping for writing a review. These questions, along with the reminder that a review needs to be only a few short sentences, help ensure that the review speaks to those who are looking to purchase your book:
- What did you enjoy most about the book?
- What is your most valuable takeaway or insight?
- What have you done—or will you do—differently because of what you read?
- To whom would you recommend this book?
- There are a few things to encourage your readers to avoid, as some platforms, such as Amazon, may deny their review. When writing a review, it’s important that the review doesn’t appear too promotional or acknowledge any personal connection to the author. Remember, the review isn’t about that; it’s about helping a potential reader realize the book is worth their financial and time investment! Train your readers to keep the review focused on the book itself and why it’s worthy of someone’s time reading.
Where to Post a Review
There are several places where you, the author, would benefit from readers posting and sharing reviews. Here are my three favorite places to encourage readers to post reviews:
- Amazon, of course, is a must! Most people purchase books on Amazon nowadays, so Amazon reviews are critical and should be incorporated into your marketing strategy. And not just any Amazon reviews… verified purchaser reviews are ideal! These are reviews of people who have purchased your book on Amazon. Amazon makes that connection and provides a heavier weight on the algorithm front for those reviews.
- Goodreads is another platform where readers visit to get information about books prior to purchasing, proving it to be another solid platform for suggesting book reviews. Its’ large online group of readers makes it ideal from a visibility and credibility standpoint.
- There are countless other sites to consider encouraging your readers to review you on. However, I’ve found that another smart platform is actually LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers the opportunity to provide recommendations on personal profiles, and I encourage authors to request recommendations from their readers there, too, especially if they write nonfiction and are building a business around their book’s empowering messages.
If, for whatever reason, a reader writes a review but isn’t sure how or where to post it, don’t let that stop you from gathering their testimonials. A testimonial provided to you via email with approval for promotional use could be a great resource for marketing materials, your website, a book trailer, and more! Keep these testimonials in a list so that you have them at your marketing disposal.
How to Get More Book Reviews
When it comes to reviews, three things matter most: quantity, quality and timeliness. The more 5-star and quality reviews you have, the more platforms like Amazon will take notice of you. And, the more regularly you get reviews — meaning that they happen consistently over time — the better. Consider your potential reader. They are more likely to purchase your book if they see you have forty 4- to 5-star reviews over the course of the year your book has been out than if there hasn’t been a new review for nine months. Consistency is key. Here are some tips to help you get more reviews.
- Leverage a launch team. If you haven’t built a launch team to help with your book promotion, you are missing a prime opportunity for book reviews. Recruit a group of people who know you, love you, support you and want you to succeed to help you hit the ground running with your book’s marketing efforts and reviews!
- Utilize ARCs. There are many readers out there who would love an advance copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. Utilize services to help find the right readers or share on social that you are hosting a contest where you will give away complimentary copies of your book. And when you do, ask for a review in exchange!
- Encourage reviews in all of your marketing efforts. Acknowledge it on your website (and even incorporate reviews in there!). Include a request for a book review in your email signature or directly send emails to those who have read the book encouraging it. Post the reviews you receive on social, thanking that reviewing (and subtly encouraging more!). Make direct asks to people who have a copy of your book (remember, they want to but keep forgetting to do so!). And finally, ask for reviews when you are on the stage talking about your book, hosting workshops, leading author panels, etc. Incorporate review request language into your everyday vernacular!
Reviews can be the deciding factor between someone purchasing your book or not. They can help you stand out amongst a cluttered sea of many authors in your genre. They can solidify your book’s quality and build up your credibility. Reviews matter. Be sure to ask for one (and… don’t forget to be someone who gives them, too!).
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