Book reviews

The importance of book reviews

Reader reviews

Authors often pay too much attention to reviews, at the expense of what really matters: sales. Reviews are an instrument that help encourage sales, but they should never be viewed as an end goal per se.

Reviews alone don’t sell books. Even if you got the most glowing customer review on Amazon, that review in and of itself would not bring more readers to your book page. It would only increase the likelihood that new readers you send to your book page end up purchasing it.

In marketing jargon, customer reviews affect your conversion, but don’t drive traffic.

That’s not to downplay the importance of reviews. But don’t think that a good review will make your book magically start to sell.

Editorial reviews

So far, I’ve been referring mostly to consumer reviews — i.e. reviews from random readers who buy your book.

But a customer review isn’t the only kind of review out there. There are also what we call “editorial reviews,” which are authored by professional or semi-professional reviewers. These are posted on blogs or websites other than Goodreads, Amazon, or other e-retailers.

The most popular examples of editorial reviews are the ones you’ll find in newspapers or online magazines like The Guardian, The New York Review of Books, Times Literary supplement etc. See the latest review on Nation.Cymru for The Cave of Shadows by Cambria author Martyn Rhys Vaughan. Cambria authors have also often been reviewed or interviewed in most of the local and national newspapers (Western Mail) in Wales such as they are.

This kind of an editorial review is the dream of many an author — but its actual value is doubtful, and certainly not worth alot of effort or expense. So are all editorial reviews worthless? Definitely not.

Firstly, there are countless book bloggers who have strong and engaged audiences in niche genres — and many of them are open to reviewing books. Of course, it’ll require a bit of work on your part to get your book reviewed: you need to research each book blog in-depth, pitch your book elegantly (and well in advance), follow up, etc.

Whether that’s worth your time is up for you to decide, but it’s certainly an avenue worth considering, especially if you don’t have an established readership already. But here’s what’s even more important: even if an editorial review doesn’t yield you direct sales, it’s a fantastic tool to use for your other marketing efforts.

Editorial reviews tend to be written much better than your average random customer review, making them a lot more “quotable.” You can re-use such quotes in your book description, back cover copy, or advertising copy .

A quote from a recognised source in your genre will carry a lot more weight in the eyes of readers than one from “Anonymous Amazon Customer.”

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