Years ago, I was a restaurant reviewer for a local newspaper. My husband and I would dine at a restaurant like regular customers. At the end of the meal, I’d pull out my card and announce that the restaurant had just been reviewed.
Once I became known, restaurant managers and owners offered me free meals and other bribes in exchange for reviews. In order to write a fair and unbiased review, I never accepted anything free (though I must admit the costly bottle of champagne challenged my integrity), but you can’t blame anyone for trying. Restaurants depend on reviews for survival. So do writers.
Whereas a single review in a newspaper or online can increase business for an eatery, writers needs a number of book reviews to notice a difference in sales. In recent years, writers have lost important review outlets such as Romantic Times. Now writers must depend on reader reviews on outlets like Amazon and Goodreads and those are not easy to come by.
Oh, sure, writers can pay review services and many bestselling writers do just that. But the services don’t come cheap and there’s no guarantee that enough reviews will be provided to offset the costs.
Why All the Fuss About Book Reviews?
- Reviews offer writers greater visibility and a better chance of being found. Also, many promotional sites require a certain number of reviews before an author can use the service.
- A study conducted by the Northwestern University found that people bought products based on popularity, meaning the most reviews. Oddly enough, the reviews didn’t even have to be good. Products with a lot of bad reviews sold more than products with fewer but better reviews. (With that criteria, even a mouse could become popular if given enough reviews.)
- It doesn’t take much. 20-50 reviews are enough to give consumers confidence enough in the product to purchase it.
Why don’t more readers leave book reviews? According to my unscientific survey among friends and family, here are the top excuses, oops I mean reasons, for not leaving a review.
I didn’t purchase it from Amazon
Amazon allows reviews whether the book was purchased from them or not. If purchased from Amazon, it will say verified purchase. Amazon does have an instinct for sniffing out reviews by a writer’s family members and friends (okay, you can’t blame me for trying), but otherwise anyone can review a book.
I’m not a writer
You may not be a writer, but we writers value your words. You don’t have to write anything fancy and you certainly don’t have to compete with a professional reviewer. I liked this book because….is a good start. Or maybe you didn’t like it as much as the author’s earlier works. Honesty is always best when writing a review. If you simply can’t bring yourself to write one, you can locate the book on Amazon, find the review that is closest to expressing your thoughts and click on “helpful.” Yep, in the wondrous and sometimes confusing world of Amazon algorithms, “likes” and “helpfuls” count.
Don’t have time
I heard this one from someone who had recently won a free book from an online contest. I’m sure most winners don’t think about the time it takes the author to package and mail a book. Also, books don’t come free. The writer probably paid for the book out of her own money, not to mention postage. But writers do this willingly hoping the winner likes the book enough to recommend it to her friends, and yes, give it an online review.
My one review won’t make a difference
Oh, but it does, it does, and we fillies appreciate readers who take the time to post reviews. You’ve helped contribute to the success of our books and we can’t thank you enough.
So how important are reviews to you in choosing books, movies, restaurants or Amazon purchases?
Okay, now here’s the good part. Post a comment and you could be one of five winners to receive a copy of my new release The Cowboy Meets His Match—yep five. BUT (yep, there’s a catch!) I’m going to ask for the very thing most writers are too embarrassed to ask for: All I’m asking in return is that winners consider posting a review of the book. Yee-Haw!