Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why Reviews Are Important


Ah, yes. The dreaded, loved, anticipated, confusing review.

You’ve noticed them all over Amazon and other major book retailers. You have seen authors asking, begging, you for them. You have read raving reviews and some not so flattering ones.

But you probably don’t fully understand the importance of them. Right? I mean, it’s only a review. 

What’s the big deal?

Well, that word ‘only’ doesn’t fit. Because reviews are a HUGE deal!

If you are anything like the millions of readers out there, myself included, then you want to get an idea of what a book is about from someone who has actually read the thing, right? I mean, book descriptions only tell you what the author wants you to know. But, as an author myself, I know the descriptions only tell you the best part of the story leaving in your mind just enough of a tease to hopefully entice you to buy the book and read it. You wouldn’t want to do that if the blurb told the entire thing, right? You want to know what other people thought of the book; get an idea of what the characters are like, the storyline, the scenarios, etc.

Was the story detailed? Fast-paced? Were the characters fleshed out? Was it edited properly, or were there errors in the grammar that detract from the story? All of those answers are often found in the reviews.

But did you know that reviews help the author, too? So, if you have a favorite author you absolutely LOVE, and you think other people NEED to read their work, the best way to do that (or help entice readers) is by leaving a review.

Or, if you really didn’t care much, you can do the opposite.

It really is up to you.

Think of a review as your personal endorsement of the story. In your review you can be as honest as you’d like. Actually, the more honest, the better. Tell people what it is about the story you loved or didn’t care for. Tell them if you enjoyed the length or wanted more. Did you enjoy the author’s writing and would you read more of their work? Well, tell potential readers that.

If you, as a guy, test drove a new car that you feel you’d like to buy, you would probably tell your buddies about it, right? Or, if the car was awful; the interior cheaply put together, the shifting of gears too hard, steering too tight, you’d warn your friends away.

Or, if you, a woman, found a new store/make-up brand/purse, you would most definitely tell all your girlfriends how much they need them too, right? Or, if you tried a new brand that didn’t work. Either their sizing was terrible, the foundation set into the creases of your face, the purse stitching was coming apart too soon, you’d tell them to stay away.

That face-to-face word-of-mouth is your review of the product. The different is that on Amazon or any other retailer, you are able to reach a much larger audience with your opinion.

So, let’s get into the why’s and how-to’s, shall we?

First, why?

Well, because we all love to express our opinions, right? Not only that, but if you are a huge fan of the author then you’d like to see them become successful or stay a success. The more reviews a book has on any major retailer, the better the chances that retailer’s algorithm will recommend that book to their customers.

You ever notice the recommended sections when browsing for books? Or on the results page when you search for a specific topic? The most reviewed books usually show up first, guaranteeing that people searching for that topic will see those books.

The online book retailers see more people not only reading but also reviewing those books so they must be worth promoting, right? So they think, with the book(s) being popular, that you may also enjoy it. They make sure you see that book. You see the book, check out the reviews, and decide to buy it yourself. Wham! Not only does that author make some money, so does the retailer.

You see, the more popular books are the more the retailer stands to make, so they will do what they can to showcase those they feel (or their algorithms decide) are possibly the ones to guarantee business.

A great article I found to further explain this is Why Reviews Matter by K.S. Brooks.

Secondly, how?

It really is simple, trust me. And you can do this all anonymously as well, especially on Amazon since they allow you to create a screen name, so to speak, for your public profile. Mine is A. Shades. 

Not so anonymous, but you get the idea, right?

Anyway, often, when you have reached the end of an ebook, your Kindle may show you a pop-up asking if you would like to review the product on Amazon (some even have the feature where you can link it to Goodreads as well so you kill 2 birds with 1 stone).  Well, when that option comes up, you would follow those instructions. Usually it begins with giving it a star rating and then you are prompted to write a review and giving it a title or tag line.

The second way would be to go to the product/book page on Amazon manually and at the bottom where it shows the reviews, there is a section that gives you the option to write a review and share your thoughts.

Now, don’t get intimidated. It is pretty easy. And you don’t even have to say much, if you choose not to. A short and simple, “Loved the story!” or a, “Didn’t care for the story.” Both work. You let potential readers know your thoughts and you helped the author in the search algorithms.

For a more in-depth tutorial on leaving a review and how, I found this article, Reviewing 101 by Big Al helpful.

Lastly, by leaving a review, you aid your favorite author in their chances of being accepted by other author promotional platforms such as BookBub.

BookBub and others like it, have an incredible following of people who sign up to receive their recommendations. For an author, receiving an email of acceptance is into this “club” is HUGE as they only accept those they feel meet strict guidelines.

The following is a snippet from BookBub’s website:

“While there is no specific “minimum requirement” for reviews,
our editors are generally more likely to select books
with higher numbers of authentic and positive customer reviews.”

So you see, they may not specify a number, but they do recommend the author have a considerable number of reviews to make the book seem more “authentic”.

To give you more of an idea of what BookBub is looking for, you may find this article helpful.  Tips on Optimizing Your Submission for a BookBub Featured Deal.

I hope you have found my thoughts, ideas, and reasons on reviews helpful. I encourage you to consider leaving a review (always an honest one) for the books you read from now on.

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