Thank you, Internet for connecting all of us, all the time. I can’t make any decision without consulting the web for reviews. Need new tires? Find some affordable options and compare reviews. A new computer? Same. Dinner out? More of the same.
Books are different. I’m not going to pick a handful of books and make a choice based on the reviews. Buying books is more subjective. I actually decide whether or not to consider buying based on reviews. Those little stars can be the difference between trying out a new author or passing them over for someone I know and trust.
In this way, getting reviews for your book may well be the most important factor in hooking new readers (a good cover and well-crafted description being the other elements). The question becomes: how do I get reviews for my book?
First things first
The first thing to do would be to tap resources you have on hand, such as friends, family, coworkers, or fellow writers. These are the folks who are willing to read your book and give reviews initially. It’s a great place to get started, particularly if you have a network of authors and fellow writers who can provide honest feedback.
Remember, not all reviews are going to be glowing. But a specific criticism or suggestion can be more valuable than simple praise. This is self-publishing, so a well crafted critical review could be the impetus to revise the work, in the end landing you an even stronger book!
Once you’ve reached out to your friends, family, and fellow writers for reviews, you might consider sources like Publishers Weekly or Kirkus, who offer paid reviewing services. This is a good way to get a “professional” review, but this may not be the most important element in increasing sales and visibility.
In fact, what might matter the most, are the stars. Invesp is a site dedicated to the commerce of opinion, and they present a nice little infographic (see below) that highlights how important it is to have stars on those reviews. The main takeaway here is that getting 4+ stars can be as important, if not more important, than having a written review from a paid service like Publisher Weekly. Another crucial point this information brings up is review quantity.
Most buyers feel confident with 4 to 6 good reviews. What this means is that you don’t actually need a lot of great reviews to get your book that extra attention. Just a few reviews with 4+ stars can be all it takes to start pulling in new readers!
Either way, as a self-published author, if you hope to have your work noticed and picked up by new readers, you’ll want as many stars and reviews as you can get. These reviews are the “word of mouth” you’ll need to help find new readers and get them excited for your book.
It’s a lot of work, arguably more work than writing the book, but in the highly competitive self-publishing world, getting attention is the cornerstone of growing your book’s readership.
Lulu has a section in our Forums called “Shameless Promotion” for, well, shamelessly promoting your book. It’s a great way to get the attention of the Lulu community and test the waters for reviews.
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Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, responsible for all the words you see on our site (misspellings included). He also manages the community site – http://connect.lulu.com/en/ – and in his free time, he’s an avid reader and short story writer.