Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Value of Reader Reviews

The marketing surveys repeatedly confirm this fact.  The greatest influence for someone to purchase a book is the recommendation from another person.  Whatever background you know about the person who is recommending influences the strength of the recommendation. It’s called Word of Mouth and amounts to this mystical matter which publishers are always trying to get going for each book.

Reader recommendations or reader reviews is one method to spread the news about your book.  Amazon and a number of other websites allow readers to add their own reviews of the books—positive or negative. I’m amazed at the number of books which have been out for some time and have no reviews on their Amazon page. These reviews don’t have to be long or complicated. They can be a few simple sentences with your rating (five stars being the highest and one star being the lowest). Book-Proposals-That-Sell-co

Each month, I’ve been reviewing books for Faithful Reader.com.  This site recognizes the value of these reviews and they routinely add the reviews to the appropriate page on Amazon. This review may be the only one on the site or it may be one of many for a particular book.

Here’s a simple way to encourage people to add their reviews for your book: I regularly receive email feedback about Book Proposals That Sell and gracious, positive comments from people who have been helped through the book.  Often I will write back and ask them to go to the page on Amazon and add a sentence or two along with a five-star review (if they can take a minute or two to do it). Many people have never been asked—and they are glad to add their review and five-star rating. To make it easy, I include a link to take them right to the appropriate page on Amazon.  I have over 40 five-star reviews on this page from readers in various parts of the country and from all walks of life. While my book has been in print over a year, the new reviews keep coming to this page and it encourages potential readers that the book is active and something people are using.  Everyone I ask doesn’t add their review and some of them take a number of months until they get it done. That’s OK because at least I tried.

Amazon averages the reviews into an overall rating. If you have one good review and one bad review, the average will not be desirable. You can overcome these bad reviews with continual high ratings and eventually you will average back to the high rating.

I read a large number of books and for many years, I’ve not been adding my reviews to the appropriate page. It does take a few minutes (but not many minutes). In the last few weeks, I’ve been slowly adding some reviews to various book pages on Amazon. Initially my reviewer ranking within Amazon was well over 600,000 (not very high but very typical). As I’ve been adding reviews for various books, my ranking has improved and currently it is slightly over 150,000.

Sadly many terrific books on Amazon.com are without reader recommendation.  For an example, look at my Amazon profile. I list over 20 of my various books—and many of them are without a single review.  Some books only have a single review. 

As a reader, you have influence. Are you using it?

4 Comment:

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Unknown Left a note...

Before I was an actual book reviewer I didn't even think to leave Amazon,(et al) reviews. It takes time to do so. I'm glad I kicked that habit. Now I think of writing reviews as one more way I can be of service in this world.

Reader reviews have absolutely made a difference on whether or not I'll buy a book from Amazon. If no review, I'm much less reluctant to take a chance on an author I don't know.

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Stacy L. Harp Left a note...

I sure hope I'm using my influence :)

I love doing book reviews, and interviews, so much so that I started a company to have bloggers do just that :)

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Heather Ivester Left a note...

I agree with Gina and Stacy -- writing reviews is an important ministry. I never even thought about it until last summer. I used to write short book reviews on index cards when I was growing up, and I kept them in a recipe file box. Nobody but me ever read them.

I have a lot of friends in book clubs, and it surprises me that they'll spend an entire month reading one book, then several hours meeting to discuss it, and yet never consider making their views public. They become experts on a book, but never tell anyone beyond their small circle. I think writing public reviews intimidates most people -- or they think that their one little voice won't matter. But it does! :)

At 8:44 AM, Blogger Sheryl Left a note...

Excellent post Terry. I agree wholeheartedly.

And not only is reviewing an excellent way to support authors and books, but for those of us aspiring authors out there, it's a great opportunity to work on our writing skills.

I never realized what a challenge it is to summarize a book (and for fiction not give away the whole plot) until I started posting reviews on Amazon. But the more I write reviews, the easier it gets.



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