Your Ad Spot

February 6, 2020

All it takes is a few clicks to be exposed to an onslaught of products in this day and age. So how do you get your product - the book you’ve worked tirelessly to get out into the world - noticed? Undoubtedly one of the best ways is through book reviews.
If you’re an avid reader, you’ve probably used reviews to decide which books actually deserve your time. Perhaps you liked a book so much, that you’ve even written a review yourself. And if you’re an author, you’ve undoubtedly heard people talking about the importance of book reviews.
There are several reasons for this. As it happens, book reviews are more than just the icing on your book marketing cake; they’re a crucial part of the batter. So before you start cooking up-selling strategies, let’s talk about why book reviews are an integral part of every author’s marketing process, and why it’s so important to prioritize them.

1. Reviews Drive Sales through Customer Trust:
There’s just no getting the fact that people trust word-of-mouth recommendations more than even the best advertising. I know I do: why would I believe glowingly positive ads that an author created? Of course, the author thinks their book is great - they wrote it!
But if someone else says that the author's book is great? 

Someone with no skin in the game? Someone who’s just happened across it, read it, and cared enough to post a review about it? I’m automatically going to trust their opinion more, and so will other readers. Indeed, studies have become a huge reputational shortcut that signals quality - a recent survey even showed that online reviews had an impact on 93% of consumers’ purchasing decisions! That’s a percentage that cannot be ignored, especially for authors hoping to gain new readers.

2. Reviews Build Social Proof:
Social proof is a fancy way of saying that people will instinctively "follow the crowd" and congregate around what's popular. From there, the equation is simple: if your book has lots of reviews, it appears to be popular, hence boosting its social proof.
The power of social proof in publishing cannot be ignored. It’s similar to the author ad conundrum, but to an even greater extent: if you scream from the rooftops that your book is worth reading, but your readers remain silent, their peers will take note.
This is also a good time to point out that even some bad reviews can be helpful! For instance, if someone trashes your book for having “too much romance,” that might attract readers who didn’t anticipate romance but are nonetheless intrigued by it.
Basically, whenever someone makes an effort to note something about your book in a review — even if it wasn’t to their taste - that still serves as social proof that your book is noteworthy. All press is good press, as they say, and this same attitude can be applied to book reviews.

3. Reviews determine SEO and Amazon Algorithms:
Now let’s talk about the technical reasons to chase book reviews. It might not be the most encouraging thought, but because so many of our everyday decisions are determined by search engines, discoverability is crucial to your book’s success. No one is going to buy your book if they can’t find it - and the more reviews your book has, the higher it ranks when readers search for books on both Google and Amazon.

Even outside of Amazon, the number of reviews a book has will affect things like landing a spot in BookBub’s advertising emails - which, as seasoned authors will know, can make or break the success of a price promotion. Reviews also affect recommendation features on many sites (“Customers who bought this item also bought…”) and factor into all of Amazon’s obscure algorithms. But perhaps the most significant advantage of book reviews is the last one on this list.

4. Reviews Boost Overall Visibility:

It’s simple: the more you see something, the more you are going to think about it. Therefore you want your book to be seen by as many readers as possible, and reviews are inevitably a huge catalyst for visibility.
If you’re publishing traditionally, you may not have to worry about this; your publisher will have a marketing plan in place that increases awareness for your book through various methods, including reviews. 

However, if you’re self-publishing, you have both greater responsibility and greater freedom. Your manuscript will immediately be seen by the world, who will also be able to review it immediately… hence why it helps to get the ball rolling with a little initial, positive visibility through early reviews.

Keep in mind that visibility is about more than just sales for one book. It also helps you establish your canon's place as an author and builds authority for future releases. In other words, the more reviews you hustle for now, the less you’ll have to worry about them later.
Finally, reviews can raise up marginalized authors and prove the “buying value” of their stories. This leads to more diverse books being written and sold and more voices being heard. So visibility for your book can also any faction of readers or authors aiming for something a little different from what’s in the mainstream.
As you embark on your authorial journey, remember this and all the other reasons I’ve outlined why reviews are important. I hope this post has given you the confidence to ensure your book receives the attention it deserves - perhaps even on a review blog like this one!