Since becoming an author, I’ve heard all about the importance of book reviews. Reviews sell books, reviews help get your name known, reviews are a self-published author’s best friend, etc. It made me start to wonder about a few things. You see, I never used to look at reviews. Most of the time I bought my books at bookstores, and I don’t usually rely on the ‘What’s hot this month’ rack, either. I don’t usually pay much attention to the cover (not consciously anyway) – instead I rely on the genre, title, and blurb to decide if I want to read something. Recently, I’ve started shopping for books online, and I find myself using the ‘customers also bought’ feature more than reviews.
So here is what I’m wondering. What exactly do readers look for in a review? Is it star rating? The content of the review? Or do they just look for a large number of reviews, regardless of their content?
And for my fellow authors out there: How did/do you go about getting people to actually leave reviews? I’ve seen the reviews starting with the disclaimer “I was given this book in exchange for an honest review” and tried that approach. No dice – only two people who received a free copy of my book bothered to actually leave a review. One of those two was the person who helped me stay motivated during the entire writing process, so I don’t think he really counts. So that makes one out of at least a dozen free copies for reviews. That seems like really crappy odds. Granted, those were friends and family – should I perhaps search for book review blogs and ask ‘professional’ reviewers to check my book out? (That’s actually a terrifying thought … I still get butterflies when strangers read my work.)
I’ve also heard that holding contests will help promote your book. I wonder if contest winners actually review the books they win …
If you have any advice or thoughts, feel free to chime in!