The importance of choosing the right book reviewers

Getting readers to review your books on their blogs is a great way of spreading the word. I have to admit that I haven’t seen a huge spike in sales after reviews are released, but it is a good way to get your title’s into readers hands. This is especially true if you have a number of titles because even if none of the book review readers buy your novel, perhaps the book reviewer themselves will come back for more.

There are huge lists of book reviewers to be found on the web. A great place to start is the Indie Book Reviewer, a place where you can find hundreds of eager readers who want to take your novel and blog about it. As you go through the listings you’ll discover that many people are simply swamped with books and cannot take on more reads, resulting in your pool of possible reviewers shrinking considerably. This can cause you to simply contact everyone that is open to taking on books. However, this may not work to your advantage; a fact that I found out this morning.

There are always going to be people who don’t like your books. Fair enough. I don’t like every book that I read either. However, it is important to try and choose reviewers who have a great looking blog, lots of followers and who are actually interested in the genre AND style that you’ve written in.

This morning I had a three star review from a reader who mentioned that Inside Evil’s pacing wasn’t very good and that there wasn’t enough back story in the book. Looking into her history, I saw that she marked similarly for all books which didn’t give back story or lots of superfluous information. She also mentioned that it took her longer than normal to read the book because she just couldn’t get into it. In my rush to find reviews, I’d simply just found a name, an email and sent the book out. Of course, EVERY reader is entitled to their opinion and I’m grateful for the honest review, but if I’d done my research, I would have discovered that perhaps this reader wasn’t the best candidate for my work.

You can then compare this to the wonderful four star rating that I also received today from The Book Barbies. Whilst the pacing was slow for the reviewer mentioned above, the reader at The Book Barbies couldn’t put it down. She was devastated by the cliffhanger and is ‘dying in anticipation for the next book’. She even had a dream about the book after she’d finished.

You can never tell if someone’s going to love or hate your work, and it’s important to not become too bogged down by the details. After all, Twilight has 715 ONE star reviews on Amazon, The Hunger Games has 501, and even Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has 88. However, when you’re searching for book reviewers, it can be worthwhile to take some time and establish a reader’s back history of reviewing and the genre and style’s that they love. It could make or break your resulting write-up.

The importance of book reviews and word of mouth for ebook sales

It may sound obvious, but word of mouth is one of the major factors that will help you sell books. I know this, you know this, but knowing and doing are two completely different things. When I first started self publishing, I debuted Inside Evil on a bit of a down low. It was my first novel, I didn’t know how it was going to be received and I didn’t want to put family and friends in that awkward position where they have to gush about loving your book whilst they’re secretly cursing the hours they lost having to read their loved ones trash. Luckily, it seems that I didn’t write 70,000 words of trash, but putting a book out there that you’ve slaved over is scary stuff.

Once you hit that self publish button, and for those who are organised enough to get a head start, the marketing and advertising starts. Forum posting, blog commenting, Goodreads ads and LibraryThing giveaways are all part of the process of trying to get sales; along with having fingers and toes crossed that a little bit of luck comes your way. However, from personal experience, the one thing you need to do to sell some books is to swallow your pride and turn to book reviewers, friends and family to spread the word.

Book Reviews

Some people don’t have a lot of luck with book reviews, but I’ve found that it’s been one of the best way to get sales. Most reviewers have a huge backlog of books to read, but getting on as many blogs as possible will passively spread the word of your novel, build some reviews and gain some sales. Most reviewers will post their ratings on their blog, Goodreads, Amazon and even Barnes and Noble, offering you the chance to reach blog readers and grow your range of marketplace reviews. On Goodreads this can help you to reach more people’s shelves, adding to the natural word of mouth spread of your book.

One of my first book blog reviews came in yesterday with a stunning 4.5 stars. A huge thank you to Krista at Breathe in Books for this review, and I’ve already noted an increase in sales which I expect has come off this sole review.  Don’t be persuaded to only go for some of the big book reviewers – get on as many blogs as possible to reach a wider audience.

Two great lists of book reviews can be found at:

Kristy’s Stories book reviewers post
Indie Book Reviewer

Word of Mouth

There’s nothing that says ‘buy this book’ better than a personal recommendation. In the best scenario you want readers to be saying ‘Wow, I read this great book. You should give it a go.’ However, you need a little help now and then, and it’s here that friends and family can help. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little plug here and there. My sister put out a Facebook status saying that she’d read my book and loved it. She added the Amazon book link and I had several sales from people who were interested. Likewise, an author friend of mine Tweeted about my book, and I had several more sales as a direct result from that.

It’s understandable that you don’t want to rely on friends and family to spread the word, but you have to reach new fans in the first place so that word on your book spreads. Get two friends of a family member to buy your book and recommend it to others, and you soon have new and completely unrelated fans. This in turn will push up your Amazon sales rankings so that you can enter top 100 lists and become more noticeable.

Reaching new fans and getting sales is a difficult task. People will be far more willing to try a new author if they receive a personal recommendation. If, like me, you’re not very good at blowing your own trumpet, asking for help from family and friends can be a huge help to get your ebook sales snowballing.