Guest post by Corrin Foster, Sr. Director of Book Marketing & Promotions, Forbes Books
No book marketing initiative exists in a bubble. While each has a purpose, benchmarks, and expectations, how a book marketing strategy works together to build book visibility and sales momentum as a whole is what’s most important. At the center of this philosophy, reader reviews are the golden thread that ties together every element of a successful book marketing campaign. These candid reviews penned by avid readers hold the power to transform casual browsers into buyers and from buyers into fans, followers, and author devotees. They guide readers through the millions of reading choices, to the book that most meetss their needs, whether that’s solving a specific business problem, providing the best gluten-free recipes, or offering a fantastical escape from everyday life.
Need more reasons why reviews are vital to a successful book marketing campaign?
- Reader reviews are the social proof that helps to convert browsers into buyers. They make readers feel confident in their buying decision and excited to read a new book. Generally speaking, the more reviews a book has, the more people read that book. And no matter where they are buying or borrowing the book, they’re likely checking the reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads before doing so.
- Reader reviews help advertising convert to sales at a higher rate. If ad dollars are being spent to drive potential buyers to Amazon to buy your book, those potential buyers need proof that the book is worth buying. Ads generally begin to convert to sales at a higher rate once there are 15+ reviews on the book page, so make that your first reader review goal.
- Reader reviews have legs. They get shared online on retail sites, reading communities, blogs, and social media. They get shared offline between friends at brunch, at book club meetups, and in chit-chat with coworkers.
- Reader reviews keep books active in Amazon’s product recommendation algorithm. Reviews create page activity. The page activity tells Amazon that there is interest in a book and they should recommend that book to more potential readers.
- Reader reviews lead to more reader reviews. When readers see other readers sharing their opinions, they want to join in that conversation. That’s called buzz!
You never know when or where someone will sing a book’s praises, but that cannot happen without actively engaging with reading communities like NetGalley.
Here are some ways you can get started connecting with readers.
- Make your book available on NetGalley. NetGalley is the first touchpoint between authors, publishers, and readers. They are enthusiastic readers, supporters of authors and independent bookstores. They are responsible for the success of many books.
- Proactively seed books with your author network. Identify 15-20 people who would be willing to review the book the week of publication. Give them a copy of the book 4-6 weeks prior to publication so that they can begin reading and be ready to review.
- Take advantage of the giveaway functionality of reading communities like Goodreads, StoryGraph, and LibraryThing. Every book you giveaway is a potential review and every review is an opportunity to attract a new reader.
- Respectfully follow up with readers the week of publication.Thank them for their interest in the book, share any wins that may entice them to make it their next read (great trade review? Amazon bestseller? Readers love to know that!). Encourage them then to share their honest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever they choose to engage.
- No hounding readers for reviews! Every avid reader has a stack of books to read and yours might not be at the top of that stack. Give them time to read, enjoy, and form their opinion. And remember that sometimes the best review is no review.
- Encourage honest reviews. As a publisher, we never like to see a critical review for one of our books, but readers should be free to share their opinions. Diversity in reviews not only helps books appeal to the right readers, it deters the wrong readers from buying a book and leaving a future critical review. Remember, it’s not about avoiding criticism, it’s about embracing the diversity of opinions that ultimately guide the right readers to your book while helping others avoid a mismatched reading choice.
Reviews act as a bridge between the author and the reader, offering valuable insights into the book’s quality, appeal, value, and relevance. They create a buzz; an ever-expanding conversation that draws more readers into the fold. To harness this potential, engaging with reading communities like NetGalley and proactively involving your network in reviewing your book are essential steps.
In a world where readers have more choices than time, the importance of reader reviews cannot be overstated—they are the underlying heartbeat of long-term book sales and visibility.
Corrin Foster, Sr. Director of Book Marketing and Promotions, Forbes Books
As the Sr. Director of Book Promotions and Marketing at Forbes Books, Corrin Foster develops and executes strategic book launch marketing campaigns and works directly with authors to help them build their brand, establish authority, and connect with readers. With nearly 20 years of branding and digital marketing experience, Corrin holds an MBA from Indiana University, completed the Yale Publishing Course, and was a Publishers Weekly Start Watch Honoree.