Your book is finally finished. It is available for purchase, and you’ve had your book launch party. Now it’s time to relax and let the profits come rolling in, right? As you’ve probably suspected, it’s not that easy. Marketing is the most important factor towards achieving a profitable book. How do you make sure that people hear about your book?
There are a multitude of ways to answer that question, but one of the key ingredients to your book’s success will be the reviews it earns. Grandma will buy your book, but will a stranger do the same? Reviews earn a reader’s trust. When selling your book online, positive reviews are essential. It not only assures the buyer that the product they are purchasing is quality, but detailed reviews can help a reader realize that a particular book fits their needs.
There are many types of reviews in the publishing industry, and you should be be familiar with each type and how to get them. We will be covering four of the most common: endorsements, trade, reader, and editorial reviews. It is important to note that any one of these reviews can help your book become a success but using a combination of all four will give you the best chances.
Endorsements: Hand-picking Relevant Reviewers Before Your Book is Published
Endorsements are a powerful tool that you can use before your book has been released. To earn an endorsement, you can send a copy of your manuscript (finished or unfinished) to a notable name in the field your book represents. This is called an “advanced reader copy” or ARC. If this person is willing, they can write a short review of your book and send it back to you.
This is especially useful for non-fiction or business books, because it lends authority to your book right from the word “go”. You can take quotes from the review and include them on your cover design as an immediate representation of the quality of your book.
You do not have to know the endorser personally. If you write them a killer email to request an endorsement, you can get lucky. Make sure the person you are sending the request to is a respected/well-known figure and is preferably related to the content of your book in some way. Endorsements are an opportunity to control who reviews your book first and having a strong endorsement can be marketing gold.
Trade Reviews: Publishing Professionals May Advocate Your Book To The Industry
What kind of reviews most interest booksellers and librarians? That would be trade reviews, which are reviews that are penned by established publishing industry professionals. Trade reviews have become an industry within an industry, since there are quite a few companies that are dedicated to the service. The heaviest hitters in this category are Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Blue Ink Review is another popular choice, as they specialize in self-published/independent books.
There are two slight downsides to trade reviews: that they charge a fee in order to review your book, and there is no guarantee that it will be a positive review. However, these are respected voices within the publishing industry. If you plan to market your book to retail distributors such as Barnes and Nobel and Tattered Cover, or if you would like to see your book in the local library, trade reviews are a good place to start.
Each of these companies also feature some books that they have reviewed on their websites, which is yet another marketing opportunity. Some individual readers will also follow these reviews, so it is certainly an option to keep in mind. Fair warning, it is possible to get a negative review from them, so proceed with caution. It can be particularly painful given how expensive these reviews can get.
Reader Reviews: Individuals Recommending Your Book To Each Other
When you heard of “book reviews” this is probably the type that you thought of first. Reader reviews are provided by individuals who purchased your book and left a review of it online. These can either be positive or negative, and come from anyone. The most common places to find them are either on the Amazon page where your book is listed, or on Goodreads.
Reader reviews are trickier than they sound. Amazon has extremely strict guidelines regarding which reviews are accepted. These policies come from an effort to keep reviews as honest as possible. For example, Big Brother – I mean Amazon knows who you’re Facebook friends with and will often remove reviews from your friends and family. They are also very particular about paid reviews. Paying for a reader review is often frowned upon. Reviewers must reveal upfront if they have been paid to leave a review or if they were given a free book in exchange for their feedback. Even then, there is a strong possibility it will be removed. We will explore the intricate maze that is Amazon’s review policy in a later post.
The good news is that Goodreads does not seem to have the same stringent policies. It is a fun website where friends can follow each other’s reading progress and book reviews. It does seem to be more focused on fiction, but non-fiction books make an appearance too.
Editorial Reviews: Third Parties Publishing Reviews About Your Book
An editorial review is when a third party, professional entity reviews your book. This is typically in an article or a blog. The term can sometimes be used interchangeably with a trade review, but in this case we are using it to denote an entity that does not solely provide publishing services. An editorial review can come from a local blogger, news station, or The New York Times. Some authors consider it “hitting the big time” if a review about their book appears in The New York Times.
There are plenty of bloggers out there who would be more than delighted to post a review of your book. Like trade reviews, they can either be paid or free. Before requesting for your book to be reviewed by one, be sure to look through their website to determine the size and demographics of their audience. You will want to make sure their readership falls into your target audience and consists of the readers who are most likely to buy your book.
If you actively pursue editorial reviews, you can earn them with the same laser-focus as an endorsement. But, as always, be prepared for the possibility of a negative review.
Need some more ideas about where and how to obtain more reviews for your book? Speak to a My Word Publishing consultant for more insights.
Kerry Roepke is a genre fiction writer and a publishing consultant at My Word Publishing. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Metropolitan State University of Denver and has a background in editorial journalism.