This particular segment is for readers as well as reviewers. Before I reviewed books for authors and publisher I read just like anyone else did. I went to the store or I browsed my kindle and I selected a book I wanted to read. What drew me in?
- The Cover
- The Synopsis
- The REVIEWS
A cover is something we know not to trust because it often misleads as to what is inside the book. Still, we find ourselves tricked, drawn in and sometimes disappointed. A synopsis can tell us what to expect with a general idea of the book, but reviews? Those are quite frankly invaluable to not only consumers but authors as well.
I have worked closely with Katie from Reading Transforms who is no stranger to topics like these. This time, I took these questions to Katie and asked her some questions in regard to Reviews. I hope you can take the time to read the questions and answers that tackle WHY reviews are so important, why your voice is so important and what can come of it.
1. Aside from the obvious, why as an author are reviews so important on platforms like Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, and social media?
While reviews posted anywhere get books in front of at least a few eyes, there are certain places that are far more valuable to be posting.
Blogs only get content in front of the subscribers they have, which is usually far less than the reach a blogger will get on social media. This means posting content, specifically photos and videos, on social media as a blogger will be viewed far more often and far more valuably than anything posted on a blog and not cross posted elsewhere.
Social media posting is fabulous because it helps a far wider audience to see the book cover/write ups/reviews/comments. This gets eyes on the books, and the more frequently someone sees a book in a unique way (this means taking the book cover and making a bookstagram image, not just posting the cover image alone…same imagine, with a unique look to it makes people stop to view and doesn’t prompt them to keep scrolling because they’ve “already seen it”) the more likely they are to at some point purchase the book.
Posting on social media is incredibly helpful for publicity, Instagram more so than any of the others, but it takes quite a few times of a fan viewing these posts on social media to prompt them into really checking out the book. Once they decide to check it out…where do they go?
Do fans purchase books from blogs? No. Do they purchase them from Goodreads? Nope.
They DO purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, etc.
When they go to a buying website they read the write up and then they look at the reviews. The more reviews on the page, the more valuable they find the book. To put it into perspective, if three people have reviewed a book…have more than three people read the book? But what if twenty people have reviewed the book? At least twenty people have read the book and found it important enough to talk about. What if one hundred people have reviewed this book? That means at least one hundred people took six hours out of their life to read this book.
The more reviews there are, the more people have obviously read the book, and the more valuable it becomes to the person deciding if they want to read it.
Reviews on Amazon, etc give what we call “social proof.”These reviews are proof that people have taken the time to pick up the book and invest time into reading it. It means there was enough hype about the book to make it popular enough for people to care enough to pick it up.
We all know about those big coffee chains. They advertise their new drink, some swirling twirly purple thing, and coffee lovers rush in to buy it. But only because it is popular. How do we know it’s popular? Social proof. This is given when people plaster photos of the drink all over Instagram.
Remember that latest drink that came out? Remember how it filled your feed? Literally, it was everywhere. But at the same time, they were also selling their normal, regular coffee. Does anyone care about their normal, regular coffee? If eight people walk into the shop, knowing about the purple swirly drink and knowing about the regular drink, which will they likely walk out with? The popular one. The one documented all over the place.
Back to books, yes people notice things on the internet, they see pictures, they remember the covers they see. But when they want to know how people really feel, they look at reviews on the platform on which they are buying it. They will not bounce from buying page to buying page to get different opinions. If I want to buy a book on Amazon, I’m not wasting my time to go to Goodreads to look at reviews…I’m looking on Amazon.
The more reviews an author has ON THAT BUYING PLATFORM, the more proof they have that it was valuable enough to pick it up to read. This leads to more sales, regardless of what the star rating is (in most cases.)
Not only do reviews on places like Amazon lead to more sales for authors, but there are further implications as well. In order to get more eyes on their books, authors must invest into advertising. To do this, they work with companies who promote their books to their lists of fans. These companies immediately go to Amazon to check an author’s page before accepting them. They want to know how many reviews and what kind of reviews the book is getting to make sure it’s a good fit and “valuable enough” to show to their fans.
Many of these companies require a certain number of reviews at 3.5 stars or higher before they will consider accepting a book (in other words: this has to be a widely enough read book of high-ish standing before they will allow an author to pay them a good amount of money to drop their book in front of their group of people once) It’s very hard to get good ads as an author, and to do so, authors have to work with companies that have a high standing in the community and have high selection standards.
If reviewers don’t actually review on Amazon 9and the other buying platforms) authors can’t even have the ability to pay for ads.
Reviews on Amazon (and the other buying platforms) are crucial to an author’s survival.
Beyond this, Amazon knows what they’re doing. They promote the books that are doing well and don’t promote the ones that aren’t. Amazon gets a cut of every book sold, so naturally, they promote books that sell more and get better ratings and more reviews because it translates to more money for them. Why promote a book that will sell one copy when they could promote a book that will sell twenty copies?
Posting reviews on blogs is nice. It gets the subscriber’s eyes on books. If the blog has a ton of subscribers, that’s helpful. If a blog only has a few hundred subscribers, it’s still nice to get in front of those people, but ultimately not super beneficial.
Posting on social media is far better because of the reach of social media. It gets more eyes on both the book and the poster. This, of course, must be done correctly by creating unique, branded and stylized content, and not just posting the book cover like everyone else is doing because that gives no reason for people to stop and look if they’ve already seen it once. This raises awareness of the book and makes more people interested in it.
Posting on Amazon and the other buying platforms is the most helpful because this actually determines whether or not certain people buy the book. It also raises awareness of the book and gives social proof that shows people it is worthy of their time. Furthermore, it allows authors to invest in ads, which ultimately (usually) translates into more sales.
And when authors make more sales, they start making more money, which allows them to do less other work to support themselves and gives them more time to create more books and give the readers more of the books that they love.
Basically, when you review on Amazon, you help allow the author to write more books for you faster than they would have before.
Every review you leave on Amazon=faster turn around time on the sequel.
Think about it.
2. This one should probably come before the first but … why are reviewers so important? Why is my voice or Shirley Qs voice important?
Reviewers are the lifeblood of authors. They give books credibility. They give the authors social proof that the book is worthy of investing time (and money) into reading it.
When reviewers say that they’ve taken time to read a book, it encourages others to do so too, because it proves the book is valuable.
Every single voice that speaks about a book is important because that one voice influences others. No matter how big or how small a blogger/booktuber/reviewer’s platform is, they have the power to influence people and potential new fans.
It could be as simple as getting your best friend to read the book, or as massive as developing a cult following for a book. Just because a person may be new to book reviewing doesn’t mean they don’t hold value. Each and every person they convince to read that book matters. The more a reviewer works on and develops their platform, the more fans they will win over, and when they speak about a book people will listen.
Every voice matters because each little bit helps. Even if a reviewer can convince one new person to buy an authors book, that makes a significant difference in how an author is able to continue writing. Authors don’t make a lot of money from their writing, so they often have multiple jobs in order to pay their bills. Every sale they get enables them to take one step closer to spending more time writing and less time doing the other work they have to do to provide an income for themselves. Every single sale matters.
When books get reviews it helps other people decide whether or not to purchase a book. When reviewers speak up, and on more than just their blog, they help authors to be able to continue writing (which also results in more books for the reviewers-a win/win situation) Everywhere a reviewer can speak about a book helps. Social media is a huge influencer and gets the word out about books in a massive way. Reviews on buying platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iBooks are invaluable to an author. Reviews on Booktube channels are a huge source of help for getting the word out about these books. Even reviews on blogs help.
Have you ever heard the story about an animal being trapped in a hole in the ground, unable to get out? It’s so far down in the ground that it can’t even see over the top. It couldn’t climb out on it’s own, so someone started tossing pebbles down in the hole. Now individually these pebbles don’t get the animal out of the hole. They may seem small and insignificant…but after awhile they begin to pile up. The layer of pebbles builds on the ground and the animal can now climb a foot higher. More pebbles are dropped in and the animal can take another step up. Soon, the pebbles have collected so high that the animal can now climb out of the hole. But let’s not stop there-let’s keep going. The animal is on solid ground now where people can see it, but in order to take care of itself it must be up in the tree. More pebbles make the pile higher and soon the animal can step up into the tree; its ultimate goal for taking care of itself. Now it can see everything and can do what it is ultimately meant to do.
This is like reviews. One bookstagram post, one Amazon review, one Instagram Live talk, one tweet on Twitter may not seem like much, but they build. When a random fans sees your tweet AND a booktuber’s video AND a bookstagram photo AND a Facebook live unboxing AND a retweet AND a Snapchat Story…that person has now seen that book six times. They say it takes seeing something six times before we really pay attention to it…so at this point, let’s assume random fan has noticed and is now going to look at this book. They go to Amazon to read the book write up…and there they find YOUR review. They remember you from your tweet about the book and suddenly they are not only very interested in this book, but also in you because you clearly have good taste.
Every time you post on social media, make a booktube video, write an Amazon review, create a bookstagram photo, talk about a book in your Instagram Stories…it all builds up and not only grows YOUR platform, but also helps the author.
The more you do for a book, the more you do for your own reviewer platform.
Your voice is significant not only for the authors, but also for YOU. When you grow YOUR platform, you can help more authors. In turn, these authors will be retweeting you, shouting you out in videos, and telling their fans about you in their IG stories…which will build up your reviewer platform.
Every time you speak out, you grow the book industry by promoting books and promoting your platform. Every time you promote a book you throw another pebble on the pile and raise up awareness for everyone involved-you AND the author.
Your voice matters, even if it feels small and insignificant right now. One voice makes all the difference.
Thank you so much, Katie, I hope this Q&A helps everyone across the board – reviewers and authors. Check out more from Katie by following these links: