Hopefully as a writer you understand that book reviews are crucial if you wish to sell your work. In fact, one of the key channels of book promotion are these elusive reviews. But exactly why are they so important? Here are a couple reasons why you should make it a point to obtain book reviews for your work:
Readers read reviews. Yes, well-established authors can rely on their name to sell a book, but for most of us who are self-published, we have to do whatever we can to get our work into the hands of readers. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to do this and the book review is “word of mouth” for those who shop online. For instance, if you sell your book on Amazon, having reviews is a huge plus, especially if your work is unknown to the reader. If your book does not have any reviews and your competition has many great reviews, which book do you think they’ll pick? You build “social proof.” If someone else liked it, I probably will too. Reviews can take the place of the “trial” before a purchase.
Librarians. Full transparency here, I am a school librarian and I work regularly with book reviews. In fact, they are arguably the most important part of my selection process. Yes, I attempt to purchase what my students ask for, but if I read a review of a book which doesn’t seem like a good fit within my school community, I won’t purchase it. Librarians look for books with starred reviews, items that have been selected based on their literary quality and interest level. We rely on reviews to help us determine the subject of a book, reading level, possible popularity, quality, etc. Reviews are also a lifeline if we ever have a book challenged. Simply put, if I can’t find a review for a book there is a 99% chance I will not purchase it. Trust me, you want librarians purchasing your book. If you can get your book into a library, even just your local public or school library, you run a great chance of it being discovered. There are many readers, myself included, who “try out” books from the library before buying them. I have a whole list of books I’m planning on purchasing after I’ve read them from the library. Not only that, but those who read it at the library level are just as likely to leave reviews as those who read an advance reader copy (ARC) or purchased it online.
Quality reviews can be difficult to obtain so don’t be discouraged when it takes a while to find people to review your book – it will be worth it in the end. While I won’t be going into detail over how to find reviews today, keep an eye out for an in-depth blog post soon. In the meantime, you can read more about reviews in my post 10 Free or Low-cost Ways to Promote Your Book or watch our Book Review Webinar.