Being an author is no longer about just writing your story and letting others take care of it. Nowadays, an author has to be a marketer too. If you want to get your book noticed, you have to put yourself out there and market it, so that readers can see it. Every day, thousands of books are published, so if you just release your story and then sit back, chances are that no one is going to notice it. Writers know why book reviews are important, although there are other marketing strategies that are equally essential.
The Importance of a Book Review
I am going to list the reasons here and then I’ll discuss them one by one.
- increase an author’s visibility online
- include keywords
- recommend your work to other readers, possibly boosting sales
- most readers check reviews before they purchase a book
- can tell an author what readers are looking for or what they expect in a book
1. Reviews Increase an Author’s Visibility Online
A book that has more reviews will get more exposure, not only to readers, but likely also to blogging communities and book clubs.
A well-thought-out review can point out certain interesting aspects of the story that are not mentioned in the blurb – without giving away spoilers, of course.
More book reviews increase visibility online and can lead to book recommendations. Amazon sends out emails that recommend certain products, based on your search history. Let’s say you just finished reading “Divergent” and suddenly a new book pops up with the message, “If you liked this book, you may like this independently published book in the same genre.”
Those recommendations occur when the book in question has a lot of reviews.
2. Book Reviews Include Keywords
Every online entrepreneur knows the importance of keywords. This may still be a new concept to some authors, but keywords are also extremely important for book sales.
When you upload your book on Amazon KDP or other online book publishing platforms you are given the option to add keywords. You should give that part a lot of attention, since the right keywords can lead to more clicks on your link.
What will be a more successful keyword: fantasy or contemporary fantasy romance? You can dig even deeper and come up with a long tail keyword that provides more detail.
When a reader writes a review, he or she may unwittingly add more keywords that will help people find your book.
For example: “I loved author’s classic crime tale. In a way it reminded me of the Columbo series with a touch of Agatha Christie. The main character is a sassy young woman with a mind of her own, a true modern-day heroine …” And so on.
I just invented this part of a review, but in here you have keywords such as classic crime tale, Columbo, Agatha Christie, and modern-day heroine. Anyone who is looking for a book by Agatha Christie might see this recommendation too. Who knows, but the possibility is certainly there.
3. Reviews Recommend Your Work to Other Readers
That goes without saying, doesn’t it? When I go on Twitter and I see the following:
I may be inclined to take a look at this. In fact, this is how I ended up reading most of my books over the last years, by seeing recommendations on Twitter. And seeing the amount of reviews this book has, it has a nice, increased exposure.
4. Most Readers Check Reviews Before They Purchase a Book
When I am browsing books on Kindle Unlimited or Amazon, I always look at the reviews. However, I avoid the ones that give away spoilers. When a book has many 4 and 5 stars reviews and a few 3 stars, and I am interested in the plot and genre, I will buy the book.
Be wary of 1 and 2 reviews. I do understand that sometimes products honestly disappoint, and so do books. As an author, though, I am also aware how much work goes into a book. It is not done in a day, not even in a month, and for most not even in a year. It takes time to write a story, get it proofread, edited, formatted, a book cover designed, and then finally released. It truly is a lot of work.
I have come across books I absolutely did not like and that I did not even finish reading, but I would not leave a 1 star review and hurt the author in that way. Perhaps I hate it, but someone else will love it. In that case, I would contact the author personally – if it’s possible – and let him/her know my thoughts.
There are what some call “book review trolls” who generously dish out 1 star reviews and write scathing comments everywhere. Most of these reviews were written by people who just picked a genre that is not for them or who base their review on personal preference.
Negative reviews may also be based on factors that have nothing to do with the book. For example, Amazon may have taken weeks to deliver it. The book cover was damaged during transport. Those things are out of the author’s hands and do not reflect on his/her work.
Negative reviews are, of course, also necessary – if they are called for – but they should be kept professional and focus on poor editing or weak plot, in this way offering the author the chance to improve on that. If you simply picked a book in a genre or topic you don’t care for, then do not hurt the author’s livelihood by trashing his/her hard work.
5. Book Reviews can Tell an Author What Readers are Looking for
Let’s look at this review here:
“This was a solid first collection. While some of the poems felt like they could have a used a little more depth I can’t wait to see the future of this talented poet. Congrats!”
This poetry book got 4 stars, which is excellent. The blurb on her Amazon book page states that this is the author’s first publication of poetry. For this being her first poetry book, I think that she received an amazing and honest review, which also gives her something to work with.
“Some poems could use a little more depth”. These words were obviously written by someone who knows about poetry, and this is good advice for the next bundle of poems, advice I’m sure the author will take to heart.
This one here below is a review of one of my books, and it also received a glowing 4 stars. The reader loved it (hooray!), but she did remark that my story had a little bit of a slow start. I actually like it when books build up slowly. I am no fan of books that start with a bang in chapter 1 and you have no idea who these characters are, what is going on and why they are suddenly in danger.
“I didn’t quite know what to expect going into this book, I studied Roman history in college so I am a huge fan of the time period; and since we know so much about the Roman era, it is very fertile ground for fiction writers. The author did not disappoint, she clearly studied the period in which the book is set, noting the nuances of the aristocratic families as she sets up the main characters. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of vampire stories or historical fiction.
My only negative comment would be that it took a while to set up the story, with the action not really happening until chapter 10. Once reached however, the author does a great job of allowing the reader into the thought process (or lack thereof on occasion) of the characters that really add the extra dimension of humanity that some writers can’t seem to nail down. I am looking forward to reading more books from this series.”
I do realize, though, that nowadays many readers prefer a quick start, and so I need to adapt a little, without losing my style, of course 😉
See, in that way, reviews can really tell an author what readers are looking for and they can work with that.
Book reviews mean the world to an author. It is always nerve wrecking when I know I received a review. Feelings of excitement crash with eagerness, and apprehension. A roller coaster of emotions surges through many authors when they see that they received a new – and very needed – review.
When you read a book, please leave a review. It helps the author very much. A review does not have to be a long essay. It can just be a few words. Write why you liked the book and – if necessary – what the author perhaps could improve upon. If the book was perfect and it needs no improvement, by all means, write that too 😉 .
A book review does not have to be long, it can be like writing a Facebook status update 🙂 And you would really make the author’s day 🙂
Thank you for reading! Let me know if you have any comments.