OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
Book reviews are critical for sales. They provide social proof and help a reader decide whether to try your book or not. There are lots of ways you can increase your chances of reviews and in today's podcast, I discuss them with Dana Lynn Smith, the Savvy Book Marketer.
***In the intro, I mention that I am now a full-time author-entrepreneur and mention some of the upcoming webinars that are now available for registration. Some are free and some are paid events and all have great information on writing, publishing and book marketing. Click here to check out the upcoming webinars.***
Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer has 16 years of publishing experience and a degree in marketing. She helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletter, and private coaching. Dana is the author of several book marketing guides, including How to Get Your Book Reviewed.
In the podcast, we discuss:
- How do people find books these days and how do book reviews fit into the way people stumble upon books these days. Reviews are also the best way to discover what books are a good fit for them. There are still a lot of traditional ways to find books but increasingly online sales are driving book sales and reviews are critical for that. The more places the book gets reviewed online, the more opportunity people have to discover it.
- Professional reviews vs. consumer reviews (‘normal' people). There's a place for both critical reviews and also the more personal opinions and social proof from readers which are more testimonials, rather than full length reviews. For non-fiction in particular, people are deciding which book to buy out of competing options. There is research that shows Amazon reviews increase sales of specific books and also the sales on the site in general, which is why they stress reviews. I comment on how it seems that reviews affect the Amazon algorithms (not that we know for sure, as this is a secret!).
- AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action – a marketing adage that relates to reviews. People might find you on twitter or something, and then become interested, but the review will turn desire into action and buying behaviour.
- On sending out physical copies for review vs ebooks. Many reviewers are happy to accept ebooks now, but you could also offer the print book if it is required. Definitely check the submission guidelines. For your most important endorsements and reviews, send a physical package which is harder to ignore than email.
- Tips on pitch etiquette. On my book review blog, MysteryThriller.tv I get a lot of terrible submissions. Bad book covers are also a pet hate of mine because I want my site to look good so I need a good cover. Again, read the submission guidelines and ensure you fit the requirements. Don't waste anyone's time. Send an email with a query first. You are competing with other books so be professional. Don't be pushy or aggressive as they are doing you a favor if you want them to read your book.
- On finding book bloggers to submit to. There are thousands of these out there and most of them review fiction. Look at where your competitors are getting their books reviewed. Researching under book blogs based on genres. At each blog you visit, check the sidebar or links or blogroll as they may have links to other blogs you can check. You will come up with quite a large list and it's worth checking on Alexa.com for their ranking – which indicates their traffic. This will help you narrow down the list (the lower the number the better).
- On Goodreads, Shelfari and LibraryThing and other book networking sites. These sites are a good opportunity for authors to network with readers. You can also give away copies of your book on Goodreads. Personally, I wanted to get attention from readers and a way to do this is by writing reviews myself. Is there book review karma of sorts? Write more reviews and get more reviews 🙂 Also, your name and your profile will be included. On Amazon, your signature can include your book name (as mine does on Amazon). It's ok to swap book reviews with other authors but make it clear there is no obligation for review.
- Giving review copies to your list is great IF they are a list specifically for your fiction. We discuss using your existing fan base to boost review numbers. You can also ask people who have sent you fan mail to add a review onto Amazon or other book sites. We also discuss Barnes & Noble vs Amazon for book reviews.
- Putting the best of your review comments into your Product Description can be a good idea – read this great article by Carolyn McCray
- Build your list of fans by adding a signup page to the back of your first book.
- When reviews go wrong. What to do about negative reviews and how should authors react to them. Yes, it can be upsetting but it's important not to take it personally. Not all books are for all people. That's just the way it is. Don't attack reviewers either. Don't give negative stuff any attention or you will fuel the fire and get burnt, which can hurt your reputation. You can also take the reviews as valuable feedback. Lots of bestselling books have a lot of negative reviews. It's not the end of the world! I personally won't review a book I don't like – if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. But that's just me 🙂