Book reviews can make or break your book sales. Shelley always refers to a books page on Amazon with no reviews as being a ghost town – no one is there. But how do those book reviews get there? Do you as an author have any control whatsoever when it comes to reviews for your book? In this post, I want to share 5 things you need to know about book reviews.
1. “I Shouldn’t Have to Ask for Reviews” is a Myth
I use to believe this. It’s one of those things that we authors have ingrained in us. We think, “My book will generate reviews just by being published.” Or, “If my book deserves reviews, readers will leave them automatically after reading them.” Or you may just think that asking for reviews is tacky, dishonest, or makes you less of a success.
Well, here’s the thing. Think of your all time favorite book. Are you ready? I’m willing to guess that the publisher of that book enrolled it in some sort of book review program. You know the books on the New York Times best-seller list? They all asked for reviews. It’s not automatic.
The bottom line? Asking for reviews is a great marketing strategy—and one that you should not overlook.
Tip: Ask at least 10 people to review your book. You can send a simple request via e-mail to your following or people you know, or even write a post to share on your Facebook page asking if anyone would be interested in getting a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.
2. Don’t Fall For A Sure Thing
When soliciting reviews for your book, you are bound to come across companies or individuals who say they will write a 5-star review for your book for just X amount of dollars. You need to know that you should never pay someone to review your book as it violates Amazon’s terms of service. Not to mention that paying for a positive review is unethical.
Tip: Never give anything in exchange for a review other than a free copy.
3. How to Deal with the Bad Review Blues
Reading reviews can make or break your day. It is always great to read through a new 5-star review where your book is praised, but not all reviews will make you smile. Someone, somewhere is bound to hate your book. It could be they prefer a different writing style, they disagree with something you wrote, or they could have a problem with the story itself.
The first thing you need to know is that negative reviews are not directed at you as a person, they are simply someone’s opinion of your book. Not everyone has to agree that you are a fabulous author. It’s just a hazard of putting your work out there.
Tip: Don’t get bogged down by negative reviews. Read through to see if they gave any constructive criticism that you could benefit from, eat some chocolate, and then move on. You might also read through some positive reviews to remind yourself that someone does appreciate your writing.
4. You Have the Right to Protect Your Space
Not all reviews are relevant. Amazon has strict review guidelines that reviewers should follow when posting. If you come across a post that is promotional, off-topic, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate, you can actually report it to Amazon and they will delete it for you. They won’t delete all reviews, but if they violate their terms of service, they are usually really good about deleting them. You can find Amazon’s review guidelines here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-reviews-guidelines
Tip: Report any promotional, offensive, or otherwise irrelevant reviews to Amazon.
Tip: If a review doesn’t violate Amazon’s terms, you can still vote it down with their voting buttons to have it show up lower on your book’s page. Vote good reviews up and bad reviews down.
5. What’s Mine Is Yours Isn’t Always the Case…
As an author, you need to know that Amazon owns all of the reviews posted on their website. This means that you cannot copy a review written about your book and post it on your website, include it as an endorsement inside your book, or use it in your marketing without written permission. However, because of the Fair Use Law, you can still use a review snippet from an Amazon review.
Tip: Review snippets are usually 1-2 sentences and should never include the majority of the posted review. You also need to credit the original author, and possibly even a permalink back to the review on Amazon’s website.
Looking for more information about book reviews? Check out our book, “How to Get Honest Reviews.”
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other authors about book reviews? Share them in the comments below!