Book reviews are a valuable way for readers to determine whether or not they will make a purchase. Practically everything available for purchase via the Internet allows consumers to share their thoughts on the value of the purchase.
I don’t know about you, but before I make a purchase I typically look to see what others have said; whether I’m buying a book, shoes or an appliance, knowing the opinion of others really does make a difference.
Take for example one of our authors, Mark Phillips, who has written the book The Laika Mission, a fictional e-book about the birth of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Here is what one reader has to say:
This book is outstanding! I have taught 8th grade history for many years and I have never seen a book that was so easy and entertaining to read while at the same time made a topic of history so entertaining. As I was reading it, I could not help but think that this would be a great resource for an inter-disciplinary unit in a school. It is an excellent, easy read for a reading class. There is a tremendous amount of science information about rocketry and space travel. Finally, the historical information about the cold war and the space race was spot on. All of this is presented in a way that focuses on a story that is not usually covered in detail and really captures the imagination of the reader.
The author has accomplished a very difficult feat. He has put a human, compassionate face on what can be a very technical subject and has made learning easy, relevant, and fun for readers of any age.
If you knew nothing else about John’s book, you might be persuaded to consider reading it just based on this one review.
Book reviews are the writer’s version of work-of-mouth advertising and now with the interactive component of social media, reviews from other consumers have become the most highly effective and sought after form of promotion.
In an article about customer reviews written by Guy Letts, we learn about 10 Benefits of Customer Reviews. Here are just a few:
Reputation. “We want our customers to tell us how they feel about us before they tell their friends. If it’s good, we can learn from it, celebrate, and thank them. If it’s not so good, we’d rather fix it and keep them as a customer….and make sure that problem doesn’t happen again. We can only learn these things if we make it easy for them to tell us. By the time they tell their friends, we will have had the chance to shine.”
Sales opportunities. “We know that some of the best sales opportunities come when customers are happiest with us. Sometimes that’s just after we’ve helped them solve a problem. By checking we’ve done work to their complete satisfaction we can spot not only problems, but also these brilliant sales opportunities.”
Morale and motivation. “We get a real boost when a customer gives us praise. It gives us confidence that our business is on the right track, peace of mind that another customer is secure, and every time it happens someone in the business will feel like a hero.”
The Bazaar Voice takes it a step further in their article offering 3 Reasons Why You Want Consumer Reviews by explaining how customer reviews build that all important relationship between consumer and vendor or in our case; author and reader:
Customer opinions are more than just information, they are an opportunity for brands to engage with their shoppers and build long-lasting relationships. People want to know they are being heard. When other customers view negative reviews and see a brand’s response, it proves that’s the case. Seeing a branded response to a review makes 41% of consumers think that the brand really cares about consumers. Shoppers who trust your brand have the potential to become brand evangelists, promoting you to other consumers.
Shoppers who read reviews across our top-performing clients show 82% higher conversion than those who don’t. By allowing ratings and reviews on websites, brands are giving consumers the information they want, while increasing on-site engagement and trust.
If you are already a published author with books on Amazon, periodically check for reviews and respond to them. Each review allows for the opportunity to leave a comment so take the time to respond with thanks and personally acknowledge what they have said about your book.
How to Get More Book Reviews
One way to get reviews for your book is to ask your friends and family to take the time to write a review. Some authors have even offered free copies of their books in exchange for a book review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or other book retail websites.
There is nothing wrong with this – you aren’t asking them to sugar coat their response, merely, share what they felt after reading your book.
Along these same lines, put a request out to your entire community via social media, email or through phone calls and ask them to write a review of your most recent book. This is a great way to engage your fans in a constructive way to help the promotion of your book.
Has this ever happened to you: you encounter someone who has just read your book and they gush about how much they enjoyed it. The next time that happens, say “Thanks – would you be willing to write a review saying just that on my Amazon page?”
Milena offers additional advice in her article How to Get More Book Reviews on Amazon. She suggests asking people who are already known for writing reviews:
Contact Amazon’s top reviewers
The top reviewers for Amazon have earned their status for a reason; they review everything from books to electronics, and other consumers rank their reviews as useful. While you might assume these reviewers are out of your reach—after all, they likely receive hundreds of requests a day—they are still worth contacting. Even if only a few end up reviewing your book, their reviews could make all the difference.
To get started, decide how many reviews you are hoping to get. If you have your eye set on 25, you’ll want to reach out to at least 100 reviewers.
Take a look through the list of Amazon’s top reviewers, and create a spreadsheet where you can start logging info about your potential reviewers. You are looking for reviewers who have already reviewed books in your genre, and once you’ve found them, any additional information you can grab about them, including email addresses, and any personal interests.
Now, the art of the pitch. Spend time crafting a pitch letter that succinctly tells a brief summary of your book, why you’d like the specific reviewer to read it, and how you’d like to offer them a free copy. Include references to similar books they’ve already reviewed so they realize you have done your homework and it is not a blind request. If this seems too time consuming, create a boilerplate review request with highlighted fields for personalization, such as their name, and recent books they’ve reviewed. This way, you can update the highlighted fields to quickly personalize your pitch request for each reviewer.
Follow-up is key. Every time you reach out to a reviewer, add the date to your excel spreadsheet so you can keep track of when you sent your letter, who says yes, who says no, and who never replies. Follow up two weeks after your initial request with a friendly and simple message asking if they have had a chance to read through your request and that you look forward to hearing back.
Close the deal. For those reviewers who do respond, make sure you are providing them with what they need (additional biographical info on you, previous works, whatever) and that you are timely in your communications back to them.
You Should Also Write Reviews
Amazon has one of the largest audiences of any website on the Internet. Any time you have the opportunity to participate and share in front of billions of people; you should do it.
Once you have created your Amazon account you can also leave reviews for books you have enjoyed or that have meant something to you.
Each time you leave a book review it is cataloged on Amazon under your name. If people like what you have to say about one book, they can easily click on your name and read what other books you have read and reviewed.
Make sure that when you leave a review you are honest, authentic and take the time to check your spelling and grammar. Each review you leave is one more branding opportunity for you and your books.
Bottom line: Book Reviews are more than just a “nice to have” when it comes to promoting your self-published book. In fact, one of the services that Halo Publishing offers its authors is a written book review that is posted on Amazon. Consider putting together a strategy for seeking and receiving book reviews for your latest book.