So, you’ve written a book. It looks great to you. And now, you’d like to sell a lot of them. It sure would help if you got some rave reviews. But how? Here are some ideas.
The impact of book reviews on sales
It’s sometimes a bit challenging to determine the impact of book reviews on sales. That’s because there are many issues that go into buying a book in the first place. One of those issues is the book’s reviews, especially when it comes to electronic books (ebooks).
However, reviews have come into question in light of the questionable authenticity or honesty of some of them. These dubious reviews may come from family and friends, or they may even be paid for—in money or in kind. Some reviews may even be written by the author.
What’s interesting, though, is that in today’s world, people often rely on product and service reviews before deciding to buy or not. So, in spite of some fake reviews, it’s likely that most are above board and, hence, will have an impact on sales. This is even more likely when the review is done by a well-known figure, an authority, or a colleague in the industry or business of the book’s subject. Done professionally, reviews are a great way to get useful feedback from readers. An honest evaluation may help you improve your writing for future works.
How to get legitimate book reviews
Remember, book reviews are just one aspect of an overall selling plan—which you’ve created, right? Developing your plan should run parallel with the writing, which means not waiting until the last minute when the book is finished.
Part of that plan is to be sure that the product you deliver for review is the best it can be. That means that it should be professionally edited, should have a professional-looking cover, and have an interior design that reflects a quality product.
It’s very helpful to develop and maintain a list of people or organizations that you can use to do an effective review for you. That way, you won’t have to scramble at the end. Contact them, tell them what you’re working on, and ask them if they would do a review for you. Obviously, the busier they are, the earlier you want to make a “reservation” for their time. Once you have a list, maintain it by staying in touch with those people (thanking them, of course, for their support), so it will be much easier the next time you need a book review.
How to find book reviewers
One place to not start is with family, friends or your English teacher. They don’t do this for a living. You need to work with people who do this a lot (e.g., people who blog about books). They usually love books, and probably read more than average. They may have a specialty area (e.g., genre), and may have a large following. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you’re probably not the only one wanting a chunk of their time. That’s part of the reason for starting early. If you can develop a reasonable dialog (e.g., participate in their blog, connect through Facebook or other social media), then, when your book is finished, you may be in a position to ask them for a review. But remember, stay professional, and don’t become a pest.
Use your platform—personal and social media connections, your blog, speaking engagements, conferences, local or professional media, book signings, etc. Ask anyone who shows an interest in your book, especially if they provide unsolicited feedback, if they would write a (non-professional) review. Not all of these reviews will be winners (i.e., worth publishing), but at least you’ll have what to choose from.
Another idea is to offer a potential reviewer a free copy of your book. If they agree to do a review, you’re going to have to provide them with a copy anyway (unless they already have one), so why not sound generous and let them keep it? This is a more generous offer with a printed book, but it can work just as well for an electronic book.
A clever idea is to put a note to readers at the end of the book. Ask them to provide some honest feedback, whether they liked the book or not. If you’re selling your book on Amazon, you might also ask them to write a review there. At the beginning or at the end of the book, you might also include a list of your previous or future works.
It’s not enough to just write a book. Unless it’s flying off the shelves, you somehow need to persuade your potential audience that your book is worth buying. In today’s marketplace, reviews are a good way to start. And other than unsolicited reviews, you need to pull together a yet one more part of your team—a list of potential credible reviewers.
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