Insight on Book Reviews...

Posted by Sherrie Wilkolaski
Published On Sep 27, 2014

by Tim Rice

Recently I had a conversation with a budding author. He asked me all the typical questions about formatting his book, getting the ISBN, distribution and so on.  One  of the things he brought up was book reviews. He asked specifically if offers for free book reviews was legitimate.  My question to him was who is the reviewer? It got me thinking bigger picture.
Obviously a good book review is a great way to get people interested in purchasing your book. Reviews can be used on the book cover, dust jacket, website or press releases. In short they are a marketing bonanza for an author.

Now I don't believe that anything is truly “free”, ever, I mean the reviewer is getting the advantage of recieving a free copy of the book that they are going to read and review, right. The most important question an author should ask is, "Who is this reviewer?" 

1) Is the reviewer a known individual or book blogger?
2) Is the reviewer a credible and/or knowledgeable source for my book genre?
3) Will this review really mean anything to my audience?

Who is the reviewer?

A virtually unknown reviewer isn't going to do as much for you as someone of renown, unless they are going to post the review to Amazon or Goodreads. A review of your crime thriller by James Patterson would be a great asset. Obviously Mr. Patterson isn't available for that service so newspaper and magazine editors are a great start. If you can get Mr. Patterson that would be an awesome achievement and even better if you got me an autographed copy of one of his books! Find a reviewer that either writes for a magazine, newspaper, or blog on a regular basis.  

The Amazon Guide for New Authors

Is this reviewer a credible or knowledgeable source for my book genre?

An effective review should be written by someone who is respected as a writer in the genre. Anne Rice is a great reviewer for vampire, witch and other paranormal novels. Emeril would be better suited for cookbooks.  What about a movie star or athlete? Would that work? For many people Oprah was the end all of reviewers. While she wasn't always an authority on the subject she was respected by a large audience for her opinion. Reviews written by respected critics, fellow authors or experts in the field are always a plus.

Will this review really mean anything to my audience?

Does your audience know or care about the reviewer’s opinion? If it's written by your favorite 6th grade teacher you review might be fine in your hometown. A columnist for the New York Times would be an awesome start. Since New York Times reviews aren't falling off trees, newspapers of lesser renown can still provide an excellent review. Oprah as a reviewer would pretty much make life pleasant. The audience changes with each genre and so does their opinion on who is the best reviewer for your book. A little thinking ahead will guide you to the right reviewer for your genre.

A review from a  free source will help to add to your books crediblity and can help to increase awareness about your book, leading to more sales.  A review or endorsement from a respected source will be far more valuable from  a marketing and PR perspective. Think carefully about who, and where a review is coming from. Your book deserves the best!


Image courtesy of artM.