A Beginners Guide To Book Reviews

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Now that you’re up and running, even if it’s your first book, you’re going to want reviews. There’s nothing we consumers like more than a little social proof before making a decision. We judge everything on other people’s opinions, not that that’s the best way to live your life, but that’s for another book on another day. Movies, TV shows, holidays, all come down to what other people thought of them.

And for you and your book, your publishing business is, unfortunately, going to live or die on the reviews you get. You can write the best book since the Gruffalo, but if you’ve only got a couple of one-star reviews on show, your book is going to be seen as a mess that no one wants to touch.

But before we get to the topic of getting book reviews, let’s take a closer look at book reviews themselves. What makes them so special? Here are 5 things to keep in mind.

1 – Decision Making – Firstly, book reviews help customers make a better decision when buying their next book. If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter books and a reviewer mentions that the storyline was almost as good as that series was, chances are good that that customer will purchase that book based on that statement. The author may make a similar claim in the book blurb, but seeing it repeated by a third party can make it more enticing to buy.

2 – Builds Community – Book reviews, like a Facebook post or YouTube video, can sometimes take on a life of their own as a community builds around it. You’ll find that a reviewer comment gets piggybacked on by another reviewer and before you know it you’ve got a community all arguing for and against the content or writing of the book.

3 – Describes Books Better To An Audience – Sometimes a well-written review can speak to an audience much better than the blurb the author has on their book. Reading a well-written review can take an aspect of the book that the author either didn’t mention, or do justice to, and bring customers attention to it. They can also point out a glowing fault in your book that you hadn’t noticed. Personally, I had a reviewer mention something I had in my book that didn’t belong there. I’d stupidly mentioned a device that hadn’t been invented at the time the book took place. I thanked the reviewer and quickly fixed the problem straight away.

4 – It Gives Everyone A Voice – We’re all opinionated people, we know what we love and we know what we don’t. And book reviews give us a chance to vent our anger, express our feelings, and convince others that what we say matters. There’s also a part in all of us that likes to puff out our chest and say that we were the first to see a movie, or have an experience that others didn’t have. Book reviews appeal to that part of us and allows us to put our flag in the ground before everyone else gets there.

5 – Book Ranking – You may have already been aware that book reviews affect your ranking in the Amazon store. The algorithm may be unknown to us, but it does help with books ranking. A book that ranks higher than 4 stars (anything lower than that is seen as not recommended) will find itself achieving a better ranking. It also comes into play when it comes to promoting your book on some book promotion sites. Have a low ranking, or small amount of reviews, and they may turn you down for any paid promotions.

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what a book review is, you should also be aware of the type of reviewer you can attract to your book. In most cases, they fall between these two categories, subjective and objective.

Objective Reviewers – These reviewers are more interested in the building blocks of your work. Things like, how you worked with dialogue, built characters, the mechanics of the story, and the quality of your illustrations all come into play with them. These people know what they like and also what they don’t like. You’ll probably find these types of reviewers are the sticklers for grammar and can spot a missing comma a mile off. They can come across as more intimidating than the second type of reviewer but that’s just the way they’re wired.

Subjective Reviewers – These reviewers are more interested in how your work made them feel. They’re more inclined to tell you how they were moved by what happened to the character, how the happy ending left them with a glow, and that they’ll be back for more if you can make them feel that way again. While they’re not tied solely to longer pieces of fiction, you will find a lot of examples of reviewers there as they go through the whole book and give a blow by blow synopsis of what the character was going through and how it made them feel.

Now that you know what to expect, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea taking your newborn creation to them for examination. I mean what if they hate it?

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself this question… “Would I be happy to pay good money for what I’ve produced?” If you can’t answer that with an emphatic “Yes,” you’re wasting your time. If you don’t believe in what you’ve created, you can’t expect a stranger to take the time to give your book a good review. It’s never going to happen.