REVIEWS -- DO THEY MATTER?


There's a lot of discussion these days as to whether or not reviews matter at online bookstores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and iBooks. What's the big deal about reviews? Do we authors really need them so much? There are several dissenting views, but after sorting through many of them in an attempt to make my own rational, business-based decision, I've come to the conclusion that they DO matter for a number of important reasons.

First, more reviews means you and your book(s) receive more visibility. Visibility increases your chances for discoverability, which in this crowded publishing marketplace of today, is critical. More reviews also lead to more opportunities for promotion. Some of the important book promotion sites will not feature your book without a certain number of reviews. Promotion equals increased sales, including things like daily deals and special features. I've also learned that the more reviews you get, the more you are featured in such cross-promotions such as: "Customers who viewed this book, also viewed this book" type of advertisements.

There are people who actually spend days sorting out Amazon's complicated algorithms to determine what's that magic number of reviews (50? 100?) before you get a decent push. Trying to figure out those numbers makes my head hurt, but it does make me realize that at some point, reviews are directly connected to increased visibility and sales. The reason is that if people don't see your you or your book, then they can't buy it. Reviews matter for those reasons alone.

So, how do we encourage our readers to write reviews? That's a tough one. I usually celebrate a book review milestone, such as 50 or 100 reviews reached by giving away a free book or a prize. I always thank those readers I know who alert me they have written a review. I also try to remember to write a review for a fellow author's book that I've read and enjoyed.

I don't know the secret method or formula to increase reviews. I just write the best book I can in the hope it will inspire my readers to let me and other readers know just what they thought of it.

Comments

Marcelle Dubé said…
That's the only secret I know, too, Julie. I'm not good with algorithms or "gaming" the system, whatever that means. All I can do is write the very best story I can and release it into the world. It would be nice if everyone who liked the story left a positive review, but there's no obligation. It's not part of the bargain when they buy a book. That's why every single review is an act of generosity, even the bad ones.
Julie Moffett said…
Yep, Marcelle. I agree. I really like those words: "Every single review is an act of generosity, even the bad ones." Spot on, my friend. :)
I wish I knew the answer to getting more reviews (or more exposure, in general). I've started an Advance Review Team from among subscribers to my newsletter, but haven't had the new release yet, so we'll see how that goes. :) I did notice that when I had a "freebie" of my latest book, I received quite a few new reviews. But the middle books in my series? They've received very few reviews (good ones, but still only a few).
Rita said…
A while back I got caught in the great sock puppet hunt on amazon. I had some of my reviews of books removed and a hand full of reviews on my book went boom piff. I do not want to poke the Zon with a stick so I don't post reviews any more. I do APPRECIATE each and every one.
Like Anne Marie, I have a free book that seems to get a lot of reviews, but lately reviews have been non-existent. Ironically, I've taken a new stance where I rate everything I buy online. Kitchen sponges. Conditioner. Hiking shoes (OMG, my hiking shoes deserve 5++++). :)
Elise Warner said…
Need the reviews to garner attention and attract a larger audience. I shall make an early New Year's vow to rate every book that deserves to be read.
jean harrington said…
Amen, Julie. I've offered free books to people and asked if they wanted to write a review that would be much appreciated--no strings of any kind attached. Come to think of it, I should rekindle that idea. No pun intended.
Joan Varner said…
I always write a review if I have liked or loved the book. I use reviews to help me decide if a book is worth my reading time (after the blurb has attracted my attention).
Julie Moffett said…
I agree with you, Joan, and try to do the same. Thanks all for your comments and thoughts. :)
Sandy Parks said…
I have to laugh because I have become much more aware of the value of reviews and write them for many things (not just books) these days. Thanks for the reminder about their importance.

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