How many of you have ever purchased—or not purchased—a book because of a review you read? I’ll be the first to admit that many of the books currently on my nightstand, waiting to be read, are there because of an Amazon or Goodreads review. Although I occasionally add a book to my list because a blogger I respect speaks highly of it, most of my purchases are a direct result of the feedback of others after they’ve read the book.
If you’ve ever been a part of any book launch team, I’m sure you’ve been on the receiving end of pleas for launch week reviews, post-launch reviews, and anniversary reviews. If you’ve ever wondered why they matter, go back up and read that first paragraph again.
Reviews = sales
If you received your copy for free because you joined the launch team, one of the best ways to repay the author is by leaving a review on Amazon. Maybe you didn’t buy the book, but your honest review may very well be the deciding factor in someone else purchasing it.
More reviews = more clout
When I look at review numbers and see fewer than ten, I’m skeptical about the value of the book, and reconsider making a purchase. However, if I see more than 50 or anything in the 3-digit realm, it causes me to pause and start reading what other people have written about it. If 75 people gave this book a 4 star rating, or higher, maybe I should check it out.
Honest reviews = greater trust
Over the years, I’ve worked with authors who were upset when anyone left anything lower than a five star review. What I’ve tried to express—not only as a book launch consultant, but as bookworm—is that well written, honest 3- and 4-star reviews often sway me more than the clearly biased 5-star write-ups. I have plenty of 3-star books on my shelf, and a lower review doesn’t make them bad, they’re just not up to my view of what constitutes a 5-star rating.
So if you’re sitting there with a pile of books that you’ve read and you’re wondering whether or not you should go leave a review on Amazon (and Goodreads), the answer is a resounding YES.
But before you go, here are a few tips to keep in mind…
- If you haven’t actually read the book, don’t leave a review. If it’s a friend’s book, don’t write something about how it’s a “must read” when you skimmed it out of obligation.
- If you didn’t love it, don’t leave a 5-star review. Be honest, because review readers will be more apt to take your honest review into consideration when making a decision to purchase. That being said…
- There’s no reason to write a critical review of a book you received for free. You can write a 3-star review, but make sure you give valid reasons for the lower rating, and spend most of your time focusing on what you did find helpful or enjoyable.
- You may not be able to review it. This is especially true if you received it for free from a friend or family member. Amazon’s guidelines about who can and cannot leave reviews are pretty clear on this, and they’ve been cracking down on this in the last couple of years.
- It’s never too late to leave a review. Even if you don’t get around to reading a book until 6 months or a year after the launch, go ahead and write something for that book you got two years ago and finally finished. Not only will it make the author’s day to see a new review pop up, it will tell potential buyers like me that people are still reading it.
A Note to Authors: If you’ve shipped out books and sent follow up but are still not seeing as many reviews as you would like, don’t hold it against your tribe. Life happens, people are busy, and not every book is a homerun with everyone. Exercise grace, and don’t take it personally when those positive 3-star reviews come in… it may still make someone like me click “buy now.”