It’s pretty obvious that getting book reviews helps sales – but not all reviews are equally helpful. So how do you get reviews that will encourage readers to buy your book?
Readers look at book reviews when they’re thinking about buying a book, but they’re not 100% sure yet whether it’s for them. So the best kind of review is one that gives them more information with which to make the decision. That information could be what the reviewer liked about it, how it made them feel, whether they learned something – anything that gives potential readers more to go on than the cover, summary and product details.
There are a few things to think about when it comes to these decision-influencing reviews.
Don’t be afraid of bad or indifferent reviews.
Getting a five-star review is a great feeling, and great for marketing your book. But what savvy readers want to see most is trustworthy reviews. A book with nothing but rave five-star ratings looks unbelievable to some readers, even if the content really is that good. Ironically, a couple of three- or four-star reviews alongside the five-star ones will make readers trust the glowing ones more, so embrace it!
Plus, even a negative review can sell your book. A two-star review that says “this was too slow with too much focus on the love story” will sell your book to readers who like lots of romance and a gentle pace.
So how do you go about getting this mix of trustworthy reviews?
See who’s reviewing books in your niche.
In order to get a range of perspectives, you need to cast your net wider than a handful of loyal regular reviewers.
Make a list of popular and recent books in your book’s subgenre or category – if you were describing your book to someone, what else would you compare it to? Then, track down reviews for those books, especially on dedicated book review blogs or on websites related to the topic you’re writing about.
Lots of these sites will accept submissions of books for review. Spend a little time exploring, reading their review policies and submission requirements, and then send out your book. Not every blog will end up reviewing it, but some of them will, and their reviews are usually thoughtful and detailed about what they liked and why.
These kinds of sites also often crosspost their reviews to Amazon, which means that, as well as being seen by the audience of each blog, the review of your book will be available to folks browsing or shopping.
Build your relationships with other authors.
Research which authors are writing books that your own target audience might be interested in, and that will complement yours. For example, if you write unicorn shifter romance, find out who else is doing that – readers of a subgenre usually want more of that subgenre. If you’re working on, say, a book about vocal training for public speaking, find authors writing about improving your posture for public speaking, or how to dress for success in public speaking – your areas of expertise are related, but you’re not in direct competition.
Then, reach out to them! This can be as simple as following them on social media or saying hi at an event, but one good way is to review their books. Writing reviews of your own demonstrates to potential readers (who are also potential reviewers) that you understand the genre you’re writing in and that you’re interested in more than just selling yourself – plus, it’s just good sense to keep up with what the latest trends are, and if you’re reading then you might as well be reviewing. Other authors don’t have to be your rivals, in fact they can be your greatest allies. Don’t be afraid to watch what they do and learn from them.
Ask your readers!
Don’t forget to include a page at the back of your book asking readers to leave you a review. Emphasise that it doesn’t matter whether they liked the book, and it doesn’t need to be long or detailed – even a few words makes a difference and has an effect on your book’s overall rating.
You can also politely remind readers on social media to review a book of yours that they enjoyed, especially if you’re coming up to a milestone number of reviews – readers who got something out of your work will often be happy to spend a minute or two helping you reach your goals.
Plenty of readers who would never think of it by themselves will leave a review if you give them a little nudge, so nudge them!
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