How to Jumpstart Book Reviews for Self-Published Books
Book reviews can be incredibly influential for self-publishers. Good reviews take your work seriously, amplify your message by reaching thousands of readers, and give you a credibility you just can’t get any other way.
But how to get reviews? That’s the question that plagues self-publishers, so I was excited to learn that publishing expert David Wogahn had acquired and published a new edition of a resource I’ve known about for years. I asked David to fill us in on how self-publishers can get started with book reviews, and here’s his response.
By David Wogahn
The challenge for self-publishers, especially new authors who have small or nonexistent networks, is to convince readers to add one more title to their to-be-read pile. Unfortunately, most self-publishers do not (yet) have a reputation that confers credibility upon their books. That’s where book reviews can help; they contribute credibility and raise awareness in four distinct ways:
- Customer reviews encourage shoppers to learn more. Reader reviews are a social signal, much like a full parking lot or a line in a store are signals of something worth paying attention to (and paying for). The importance of customer reviews has increased as more books are sold online. Having numerous outstanding customer reviews on a retailer’s website acts as a positive social signal to readers, encouraging them to buy the book.
- Quotes add gravitas. Editorial reviews—written by those assumed to be professionals—play a different role. These are often used in the book or in sales materials and still matter to certain audiences, especially trade audiences such as book retailers and librarians. Positive editorial reviews can help a book get into the hands of these gatekeepers, but self-publishers need to be careful. Small Press United points out that one of their reasons for declining publishers is that the
- Reviews are marketing. It is not uncommon for the media to contact authors after seeing a review posted online or finding it in an online search. David Meerman Scott used his review of a Bob Marley CD to say he had taken photos of Marley’s last concert. The producers of the documentary Marley found that review and contacted Scott, who shared his photos and received a film credit.
- Reviews provide validation to third parties. It is common for promotional sites such as BookBub to have minimum review requirements before considering a book for promotion—both in number and average stars. Having great reviews in spades will help your book be accepted for promotional opportunities it might not otherwise qualify for.
- sell more copiesm
- be seen more favorably
- get more promotional opportunities
“Quotes used on the front and/or back covers are not from people with impressive credentials.”
Bottom line: numerous (positive) reviews help your book