Book Marketing – 3 Tips For an Online Book Review

Book marketing used to require live book tours, where authors visited bookstores all over the country, making speeches and reading from their books. These tours were supplemented by book reviews in newspapers and magazines. Reviewers in those print media would receive complimentary review copies, often in pre-publication form as Advance Reading Copies (ARCs).

Today fewer publishers are willing to pay for live book tours and few authors enjoy the hassles of 21st century air travel followed by impersonal hotel rooms. These days more and more authors and publishers are turning to online reviews, especially reviews published in the Amazon online community.

Amazon has become so critical to book sales that publishers now send ARCs to ordinary people who are the most prolific and effective online reviewers. Authors allocate a hefty portion of their publishing budget to getting online book reviews.

Yet many authors hold inaccurate beliefs about what they need to get an online book review. The steps are actually quite simple and easy to follow.

First, there is no need to pay anyone to write a review for your book. You will be wasting money and you will most likely not get a quality review.

A better idea: Use your book review budget to buy extra review copies and send them to the reviewers who seem most suited to review books in your field. If your book is a how-to manual for training an adopted dog, look for reviewers who seem to like books about dogs. Some will even mention the breed of their dog in their reviews and/or online bios.

Second, offer reviewers a complete hard copy of your book. A hard copy doesn’t mean a hard back book; most reviewers will work with paperbacks. However, reviewers often resist reading pdf copies online and they most likely will balk at the idea of printing their own copy of a 250-page book at their expense.

With the increasing popularity of readers, these preferences may change. Always ask before sending a pdf file and be prepared to offer a print copy.

Third, after someone agrees to review your book, simply send the book. You do not need to send promotional material. Editors of print book review sections and managers of book stores will be concerned with the book’s publicity plans. Most online reviewers are ordinary people who just want a good book.

Do not write to the reviewer asking, “Where is my review?” Reviewers tend to have stacks of books on their coffee tables, all awaiting review. They may choose not to review a book if they realize they would have to write a negative review, especially if the book appears self-published or from a very small press.

While it’s nice to get a thank you note after a review, this step is not at all necessary. Even more important, do not complain about your review. A few negative or neutral reviews might actually help your book. Readers realize you didn’t get all your friends to write puff pieces.

Some authors actually write reviews of their own books to respond to reviewers. They write comments on reviews to defend themselves. These efforts nearly always backfire. If the reviewer was wrong, others will jump in to make corrections. As an author, you would not make a favorable impression by attacking the reviewer (although it can be tempting to do so).

Book Promotion and Book Marketing With Online Book Reviews

Book promotion used to be all about book tours and book reviews in print media. These days the reviews that count are not all in the print media. They’re mostly on online bookstores, especially the Amazon bookstore community.

Amazon has become so powerful that authors will invest scarce resources to get reviewed there. Many authors have false beliefs about what it takes to get an online book review. It’s actually quite simple and straightforward.

As a prolific reviewer and a published author, I have experienced the process and have some tips to share with authors who want to make online reviews a key part of their book promotion.

First, I am horrified to learn that authors pay freelancers and agencies to write reviews for them. This is a huge waste of money. Instead, use your budget to send review copies to the most prolific reviewers in your genre. Read the reviewer’s past reviews to discover his or her tastes. For example, if you have a book on parenting newborn babies, look at other books on this topic. Notice which reviewers seem genuinely interested. They’ll probably be happy to review your book, too.

Anyway, one or two great reviews will not save your book. Even if one or two reviewers think your book ranks up there with War and Peace and the top-selling Stephen King novel, they can’t save your book. It’s the cumulative ratings that create viral marketing for your book.

Do not ask reviewers to write a review based on one chapter or a pdf version of the book. Send a hard copy of the whole book.

Once a reviewer agrees to consider reviewing your book, move on to your next marketing step. Do not hound the reviewer. Most prolific reviewers have backlog of books in the “To Review” pile. Some reviewers will choose not to review a book (especially one from a self-published author or small press) if they don’t like the book. They reason that it’s going nowhere,so why add to the author’s pain?

And you cannot complain about your review. Believe it or not, the most convincing reviews are balanced. The puffy reviews are not taken seriously. Online readers are smart and their authenticity radar is finely-tuned.

Do not spend a lot of money on packaging. Skip the gold wrapping paper, ribbons and glossy flyers. I can’t imagine how they would influence a reviewer.

In fact, the best way to get a handful of 4-star and 5-star reviews is to (drum roll, please!) write a good book. Nothing will compensate for a bad book, even if you somehow convince your friends and family to write glowing reviews. The online book community will pick up vibes from those reviews and you may be worse off. Readers actually complain, “The first 20 reviews look like they came from the author’s mother.”

Book Marketing – 3 Mistakes Many Authors When They Need to Get Book Reviews

Are you an author who is getting ready to sell your book? You’ve spent months, perhaps even years, writing your book. Now it’s time to learn the tough lessons of book marketing.

Authors often are surprised to discover that publishers rarely provide extensive funds for marketing a book. A few authors with a huge following will get book tours and advertising. However, one author with a six figure advance told me, “I was surprised to find the publisher didn’t follow up with support for marketing. You would think they would want to protect their investment.”

Actually, some publishers expect you will spend your advance to promote your book. Additionally, traditional book tours can be frustrating with a low return on your investment of time, energy and money.

One way authors and publishers replace bookstore readings is by investing in online book reviews. These days, readers often turn to online bookstores, especially Amazon, to find out what ordinary readers think about a book. Even top publishers invest in review copies for online non-professional reviewers.

Therefore, authors realize they need to get reviews for their books. But where do you start? Most authors make these three mistakes.

(1) Asking family and friends to review your book.

If your family and friends have written online reviews for other books and products, they will probably write helpful reviews. Too often, however, they see their role as supporting you by writing puffy, glowing reviews. These reviews backfire. A reader who sees a half dozen or more glowing reviews from first-time reviewers will become suspicious.

Alternatively, these well-meaning folks will have trouble saying “no” to you. They write a short review that readers will ignore.

(2) Asking forum members to help you with a “glowing” review.

Every so often, you will see posts on authors’ forums: “Just wrote a book and hope you will help me out with a glowing review.” These posts backfire for two reasons.

First, readers are discriminating. They don’t expect a book to get only glowing reviews. They look for thoughtful, insightful, balanced reviews.

Second, readers will feel cheated when they read a book that was promoted by falsely glowing reviews. They will not only write reviews to criticize the book, but they will also write negative (even nasty) comments on the review itself.

(3) Paying for book reviews.

You will find services that offer to write positive book reviews for your book in the online book stores. Typically they charge $15-$50 for writing just one review.

However, just a few reviews won’t make a big difference to your book’s sales. If you can pay for many reviews, you would do better to invest the funds in publicity, copywriting and other types of marketing support.

These reviews tend to be shallow and poorly written. Often they are labeled with the name of the company, so readers know you paid for the review.

If you have written a good book that meets the demands of your target market, you will have no trouble getting reviews. You can approach experienced reviewers with a well-written query and you will get quality reviews at no charge.