Consumers are connecting directly with authors through eCommerce platforms like Amazon and Smashwords or through social media sites like Facebook, Reddit and Twitter. There is also a litany of book blogs, author websites, book forums and pay-per-click advertising that are a huge part of how customers learn about new books. One powerful force is consistent among all of these platforms; the customer review. Reviews (no matter what product or service they are attached to) are the one piece of content consumers can trust as a source for finding out what a book is like before they buy. Having reviews for a title is one of the most important things authors can focus on with their marketing efforts.
Benefits of Customer Reviews
Positive reviews are always great but just having reviews in general gives authors a lot of benefits:
- It creates user generate and authentic content (assuming you are not doing it yourself) that can be indexed by search engines
- Listings on sites like Amazon have more weight with consumers when there are reviews. It gives them perspective on what they are buying
- Reviews (especially among the flowering millennial market1) play a role in a person’s purchase decision
- Reviews can also influence algorithms on Amazon2 and other sites
Getting Genuine Reviews for Your Book
There are a ton of places to get reviews posted about your book. Every review you get (as long as it’s positive) is a win however making the most of that content is the key. For example if you get a review on a blogger’s website, that’s great but how can that content be repurposed in other places where it will have an impact.
A common practice for getting reviews is to get bloggers to read and review your book. Generally they do this on their own websites. If you get blogger reviews, also try and ask for permission to post that review (in whole or in part) on Amazon or some other platform where your title is listed. By doing that authors can get more mileage out of the reviews they are able to get.
Here is a site3 where authors can find notable blogger reviewers. Getting blogger reviews can be hit or miss but if you are diligent enough and pound the pavement, you should be able to score a decent number of reviews. Every site owner has their own methods for doing reviews. Some may only post to their website while others will post to Amazon or Goodreads or both.
It’s equally common for indie authors to purchase reviews through paid review services. These sites, such as BlueInk Review4 and Self-Publishing Review5, will often post their reviews to ecommerce sites such as Amazon, or will allow authors to repost reviews to those sites.
Reposting Policies and Editorial Reviews
The property you get a review posted on likely has its own policies. Reposting policies are not really standardized across the web. For example a blogger who has done an editorial review of your book may repost it on Amazon or Goodreads as a customer review (which generates star ratings and may be more authoritative than their own website). Bloggers on Indie View are known to do this.
Just because a review is reposted on a website known for star ratings does not mean that it will show up that way. Reviewers on BlueInk for example will repost their reviews as editorial which do not produce star ratings. While that is good for authors, it does not contribute to the overall rating of your book on that platform.
Getting Reviews on Amazon
Amazon is a huge market place and reviews (whether on books or anything else) are often the key to high sales numbers. Authors should try to get reviews from anyone on Amazon but getting reviews from Top Customer Reviewers can be especially powerful.
Top Customer Reviewers are the platform’s leading reviewers on all kinds of products. They are denoted by the prolific amount of business they do on Amazon as well as the equally high number of reviews they write on products. They also have special tag that appears next to their name singling them out from average reviewers.
It is recommended6 to look at a Top Reviewer’s information before reaching out to them. You want to be sure they actually review books or at least have some interest in the topic area related to your book. Then send them an email introducing yourself, mentioning how you found them and asking them to review your book. Of course you will want to offer a copy for free.
Reviews for authors are a critical part of the sales process. They generate buzz and conversation around a title. They help others make purchase decisions and it shows that some people have already invested in your book.