Reviews are King – Book Marketing Pt.2
Reviews are king. Books with good reviews sell way more copies than those that haven’t. Even when you do a free giveaway more people will download a book with positive reviews than the same one with none. (See my A/B testing post).
You don’t want to rely on people who buy your book leaving reviews. There are two reasons why not.
- Without reviews you won’t sell many copies
- Very few people review products (compared to the numbers that download/buy it)
So you need to do some research. Google book review sites for the genres you think your book is a reasonable match for. Read the reviews of books you’ve read and see whether you think they might like your book. (You have read other books in the genre you’re writing in? If not go do so immediately, you must understand the field).
You can also look at who has reviewed the best sellers in your genre. Amazon lets you see what else those reviewers have reviewed. As does Goodreads. You can make a judgement from those which reviewers might be interested in your book. If they have contact details then you can offer them a copy for review.
Asking for Reviews
You need to do this sensitively. You are asking someone to spend several hours reading your book and then providing feedback. So here are some pointers:
- research to pitch only to people that have previously reviewed similar work
- read any guidelines on their profile or website about their preferences for contact and the sort of things they review
- when you do make contact write a personalised email showing how you found them and why you think they might like your book
- offer a free copy in the format you know they prefer (if they haven’t got a preference offer all the formats you have)
- don’t set a deadline for a review, but do mention release date or any other relevant dates just in case
- contact potential reviewers as far ahead as possible to maximise your chances
- reviewers get lots of requests, don’t expect a reply and don’t chase them up unless you have sent a copy
- never, ever, insist on a positive review; ask for an honest review or feedback
Another potential source of reviews for your book are Giveaways. There are several options, Amazon and Goodreads will host these for you (but my experience with Amazon is that it is too random). You could host your own, either via a blog or on social media. In either event you are looking to inform people about your book and also enlist people that are likely to review it (which is why Goodreads is better than Amazon).
The thing to be aware of with giveaways, as opposed to asking people you already know review books, is that there are a lot of people in it for a free product. They don’t really care about the product so much as the ‘free’ aspect. My last Amazon.com giveaway got hundreds of people interested, shipped three paperback copies and has resulted in no other sales or reviews. The last Goodreads Giveaway (apart from the one ending today), got a similar level of interest, but I got four reviews on Goodreads and one on Amazon.com, which was worth it for five copies of a paperback.
These are going to happen, and you just need to live with the fact. You can minimise this to some extent by taking care on who you approach to review your book. You can also make sure that you’ve written and edited well and had the book properly proof-read. However some people are going to think it looks interesting and then be disappointed when they read it. Where you can, update the product description to make sure it is an accurate reflection.
The other thing to say is that all books come with a range of review ratings. What seems to be important is the sheer number of reviews. If you have lots then they negative ones average out. The purpose of reviews is for the reader to understand whether or not they might like your book. So long as a review does this then it is a good one, even if they didn’t like it.
No matter how tempting, don’t reply to the reviews, whether to thank them or argue the point. Just let them stand. You might want to take names of the most helpful ones, that way you can send them a free review copy of your next work…
Feel free to share tips on finding reviewers in the comments section.