Wednesday, May 18, 2011 Reviews – A How To Guide for Authors

Recently, I highlighted a book on this blog sent to me by the author. When I checked the book on I noticed there were no reviews. Usually, this would mean the book may not be very good. However, I noticed the book was published by a company I am familiar with and one I'm sure wouldn't put their name on a book that wouldn't sell.

Why were there no reviews?

Granted, it was a new book, only out for about two months. But many authors have reviews ready, some before the book is officially launched. I suspect this particular publisher relies more on sales through their own website and isn't as interested in However, let's face it, Amazon is where many buyers turn for books. As authors, we need to use Amazon to help sell books as much as possible.

The notes below are from my own experience. However, I have read Brent Sampson's book, Sell Your Book on Amazon, and you may want to check it for more information.

A higher number of reviews implies a higher number of sales. A potential buyer would think books with more reviews are more popular and therefore, must be good. Karen Kingsbury's Leaving, published by Zondervan less than two months ago has 355 reviews.

Amazon reviews are rated with 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best. A potential buyer would think If all reviews are fours or fives, they are probably written by friends of the author and therefore not as reliable as books with some lower-rated reviews. Of the 355 reviews, Kingsbury's Leaving has 302 five stars, 31 four stars, 13 three stars, 5 two stars, and 4 one stars. That's a good mix. Remember, ratings are very subjective. Some readers save their five star ratings for Pulitzer Prize winning books, while others will give a one star to a book just because the author changed her genre since the last book.

At the end of each review is this question: Was this review helpful to you? followed by a Yes button and a No button. When checked, the results are tallied and presented at the beginning of each review in the form of x of y people found the following review helpful: As you might think, even these x and y numbers may affect book sales. What this implies to the potential buyer is that x + y people are interested enough in the book that they have read and commented on the review. Authors should periodically click the Yes and No buttons of reviews for their books to increase the numbers.

How do you get reviews?

To get reviews on Amazon, start with your friends. They're going to buy books anyway, or perhaps you've given them a complimentary copy because they helped you with the book by being an early reader. If your friends are not familiar with writing or posting reviews, teach them.

Next, find bloggers who write reviews for free copies of books. There are many of them, myself included. Most of us stay busy and will not take on more than we can handle, so you may need to look around to find the right person at the time you need the review. Also, these reviewers tend to specialize in what they review. Recent laws have made it necessary for reviewers who receive free books to say so. However, I don't feel this takes away from the review since they are not obligated to give a good review.

Writing book reviews helps publicize your book.

If you haven't already done so, you may want to review books you have read to get a feel for how it works and to get your name out there on the Internet more. If you bought the book through, be sure to go to the edition you purchased before submitting your review. Why? Because Amazon will say your review is based on a verified purchase and that will add credibility. I recently reviewed Already Home by Susan Mallery and forgot to switch to the Kindle edition before posting my review, so, even though I had paid for the book, the review doesn't include the verified purchase message. I wish Amazon would change to where they would check all editions automatically.

Another benefit of writing reviews for Amazon is that you can post the same review elsewhere. I use Goodreads and Shelfari. This gives you more hits on your name when someone Google's you. That, in turn, leads to more book sales.

Have you had experience with book reviews? If so, let me hear from you.

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