When my first novel debuted last year, there was one aspect of its release that scared me stiff: Book reviews.
I soon found out, I didn’t need to be afraid.
Sure, the occasional bad review happens. But I was in good hands with my editor and my publisher. They made sure my work was of professional quality, and then they made sure it found the right reviewers.
A great review from the right publication or influencer can springboard your way to success. Glowing reader reviews can make the difference between a purchase and a quick dismissal, and simply having several reviews for your book can help you get discovered more easily on the big sites like Amazon.
At first, I was stunned by my positive reviews. But then I realized: It does me no good to sit here and just read rave reviews over and over. (Okay, it did my ego a little good.)
Once you have reviews of your book, the next critical question is:
How can I get more from my reviews?
Good news — there are as many different ways to put your reviews to work as you can imagine. That said, here are seven of my favorites when promoting my own books.
1. Book cover
Do you have a particular review quote that sums it all up, or is particularly effusive? Go ahead, slap that baby on your front cover.
A particularly compelling quote in the corner of your cover can be the difference between someone picking your book up off the shelf and skimming to the next one.
Don’t forget the back cover, either — that’s more prime real estate, and usually the second place a reader looks when making a purchase decision. Quotes from reviews can also go on the back cover, either above or below your blurb.
I’ve found this especially useful for in-person events, as I can point directly to what other readers are saying.
You know those pages in your books before and after your novel? Don’t let them go to waste.
Instead of leaving them blank, use them to give your readers reasons to pick up even more of your work! A well-placed quote can keep your reading reaching to your next release.
3. Book sales page
Every book I release, I add a sales page for it on my website. On that sales page I put the cover, the teaser blurb and a review quote.
There are a few good reasons to do this. First, when someone is browsing from your website, they can’t see a thread of reviews below it like they could on Amazon. And there is a reason this feature is so popular on Amazon–reviews sell books. So help yourself out and share one.
4. Press releases
A strong review quote can be a great way to flaunt your credibility when approaching the media. And credibility with the media will get you far, my friend.
Think about it–especially if you’re in a big city or approaching reporters in a books niche role, these guys get whammied with pitches from authors they have never heard of on a daily basis. Multiple times a day. Each of those authors is convinced they are important and special.
Don’t be another author trying to tell a reporter you’re important. Killer reviews let you show them instead, with the hard proof.
5. Launch campaign
If you have great reviews, you better be making sure your following sees them. Throw those suckers in your newsletter, your blog, your social media, your ads, everywhere.
After all, these guys are your biggest fans. Don’t miss an opportunity to remind them why, or to get them as excited as possible for your next release.
Caveat: Don’t blast your readers with reviews all the time. Use them strategically in the most relevant spaces and most impactful times, like a launch.
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6. New hooks
By paying attention to your readers’ reviews, you can learn a lot about how they perceive and talk about your work. If you can learn to address your readers with this language yourself, you may be able to reach like-minded readers even better.
For a release I put out last year, a reviewer described my book as “a reverse Persephone story.” I’d never thought of it before, but it was an apt description.
I’ve started using it to describe the work myself.
7. Trade up
Use your existing reviews to bolster your credibility and see if you can reach for even heavier hitters with review publications and influencers.
For example, if you find a few peer authors in your genre who can give you a good review, why not use those as social proof to see if you can convince a bigger name author in your genre to give it a blurb too?
Reviews are a valuable endorsement of your writing. So why wouldn’t you broadcast it from the mountaintops? By all means, go ahead.
In fact, I’ll even go a step further and say that if you have genuine glowing reviews, you’re helping your target audience find their next great read by putting those reviews to good use.
So don’t let those reviews just queue up under your book’s Amazon page. You worked hard to earn those reviews. Now, it’s time for those reviews to do some work for you.
How do you put your reviews to work?