Friday, 12 September 2014

5 Ways to Use Book Reviews

In my previous post, 5 Ways to Get Book Reviews, I explained what reviews were and why, as an author, you want more. But knowing where to get reviews is just the beginning.

You've worked hard on writing the best novel that you are capable of creating, and even harder editing and creating the cover, formatting, and repeating the process over and over again until it's perfect. So for the purposes of this post, let's assume that your book is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G., void of typos and unattractive grammar and punctuation errors. If not, go back to the book. You don't want to publish anything half-heartedly and receive negative reviews that will reflect poorly on your future endeavors, forcing you to choose a pen name when you finally decide to become serious.



Now, when you work just as hard asking for reviews, scouring the internet for blogs and reading review policies, asking family and friends, paying for books promotion packages, etc., do you feel satisfied when you receive reviews posted to a site as a reward for all your effort? Sure. You know it will help you obtain readers and loyal followers, and spread word about your abilities as an author. But what about other things you can do with reviews once people have read your book and taken the time to post them to sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Smashwords, etc.? Aren't there other ways that those hard-earned reviews can be utilized?

YES.

Asking for reviews is time-consuming. It takes away from writing and editing, or what most writers fell in love with to begin with - reading. So if you can make these reviews stretch across multiple purposes, why aren't you already doing it? Aside from having reviews posted to sites your book is purchased and/or listed, you can:

1. Use reviews as an attraction on the front and/or back cover of your novel, whether in ebook or printed form. This is especially useful for new authors who have managed to receive respectable reviews from a well-known author or magazine, such as the New York Times. This is also helpful as the author and/or magazine can be used in tags when posted on blogs and websites, which will increase the level of searches it will be visible on. Another beneficial place to set reviews up to be seen is within the blurb on sites other than those which showcases reviews under the novel's information - posting it where it is already visible is redundant, and will annoy many readers rather than pull them in as you desire.

2. Further to the first point, you can use reviews within the front or back matter of your book, again either in ebook or printed form. However, in this case, readers will have to pick up your book (if a print copy) or open up a previewer to browse an excerpt in order to read the reviews. This is more useful for authors who are past their debut and have already developed a loyal readership, though the cover/blurb review is still an incentive to gain more.

3. Promotional posters. Adding reviews to posters created for bargain books, book launches, and tours/giveaways is a great way to entice readers. Having a release party? Send out your review requests with a publication date and ask the reviewer to provide your review prior to an agreed-upon date so that you can include this within promotional posters and advertisements. Creating a pre-order on Amazon or Smashwords (or other book retailers) will provide you with the needed ASIN/ISBN numbers, as well as a page for your novel for reviews to be posted. Once the book is launched, the pre-orders will shoot your novel up the best-sellers list and provide you with more visibility at the onset of its release. Once again, reviews on a new book will help you attract more readers, adding to the book's momentum, so why wouldn't you want to start with those already in place?

4. Many promotional sites such as BookBub require you to have a certain number of reviews and a minimum average rating to be considered for a promotional package. If you are releasing a brand new book, they will use the reviews and ranking from previously sold books. Utilizing these sites' offers will help gain exposure you would otherwise not qualify for if you do not have the reviews to meet their intake criteria.

5. Post reviews on your website/blog, social media, and author interviews, though the latter isn't as prevalent. However, reviews placed on your personal sites will provide you with a more professional appearance, as well as entice readers.

A final note on reviews, which can be inserted to any of the above, is that these are great tactics when promoting a book within a series. If a reader can browse through reviews others have posted for your series, they are more likely to purchase/download it when they stumble across one of the books (in and out of its reading order). The more attractive the package - cover, blurb, promotional packages - the better your review quantity is likely to be, and the more visibility you can gain.

It's not easy, and for some it feels impossible, but working towards building a readership and notable reviews pays off in the end. It might not be right away (probably won't be), or it may take ten or twenty books before your name becomes known synonymous with quality content, but it's worth it. When you work hard and it pays off, you know you've earned it all on your own.