Book Reviews: How Important Are They?

I self-published in September '13 and have become very interested in book reviews as a way to spread the word about my non-fiction book. I'm curious whether other writers have had the same results from their efforts.

1. the book giveaways have been the most fruitful source of reviews. I have had giveaways on LibraryThing, GoodReads, and Booklikes.

2. what were the results of sending out review copies? mine is a hardback only, so the cost is not small. I have sent out dozens and have only gotten two reviews. both were positive, but short.

3. what has done? in my case, I have two reviews on the US site and one on the UK site. what is interesting about these is that Amazon cross-posts these to many other countries, perhaps a half-dozen or so, so the exposure is great.

Looking forward to exchanging observations and ideas in this forum!


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  • I have two novels published as ebooks. they have had virtually no reviews but I am cool with this as I have never reviewed a book in my life. I am afraid I just do not get the review culture

    • Nigel, How have your sales been without reviews?

  • As a former arts journalist, book reviews are crucial.  They give your book credential and people are more likely to go out and buy the book if it receives good reviews.

    I tried the Kindle give away program for my self-published titles and no one actually bought the book later or told their friends, and I didn't receive any reviews.  I ended up giving 100s of books away.  Not sure what went wrong with that, but I'm reluctant to go that route again.

  • Twenty years ago or so I did a couple of books. They both got at least one review, both of which were good. They were both effective in stimulating sales and a demand for the books. I deliberately took both off the market so I could incorporate the data with more accurate and updated info and release a third, stand alone book. I'm sure that I'll be getting more reviews than before because I'll put a more concerted effort into it. In the meantime, my new book, which is for an entirely different demographic will require me to pursue obtaining reviews from different sources than before, but due to the controversial nature of it, I don't think I'll have too much trouble...

  • The same thing happened to me with Obviously they had tracked that I had gone to my book site, and they posted ads on my Facebook page that I had not paid for, and they sent me e-mail about my book. That was actually a "good thing" because anyone who had clicked on the link that I had paid to post would have received the same ads. It amplified what I had done, but you knew that, because you say so! But it all brings up the question - what inspires someone to order a book?

  • Well, I am uncertain about who the target market might be, which I know is a "bad idea." when writing a book. However, over night I was thinking that the biggest motivator for me to buy any book is to read the back cover, and/or to read the "Look Inside" feature on I do not think that a review would help me to decide, but it might make me aware that the book exists.

  •  Like you I self-published my non-fiction book in September 2013.  What I am depending upon is a friend of mine who is the editor of a small magazine with a circulation of about 40,000 world-wide to write a review for me. I have mailed my book to several magazines, but I imagine it is one of thousands that they get.

    I discovered that the post office that there is a special book rate. The first time that I sent out a book, the mail man did not know what was in it and he charged me a lot. The next time I mailed out a book, and told the person behind the counter that it was a book,  she charged me book rate and it was just a few dollars. That is worth knowing. Ask to send it by book rate.

    I have used Facebook to promote my book, and by that I mean that I have paid for advertising on Facebook. According to Facebook, they showed my link to tens of thousands of members and no-one bought the book, and hardly any followed the link. It made me wonder if I was being scammed. I know that Facebook is a social network and people do not log on to buy things, but I would have thought that if 10,000 people saw the book ad, and if maybe 300 clicked on the Amazon link, then at least 5 would buy the book whether it was good or bad - just by sheer weight of numbers. I got more likes from people in India than in the USA, the UK or Europe. What does that mean?

    Generally I am finding book promotion and marketing harder than I expected and a slippery slope.


    • Yes, book marketing is as much work, if not more than writing the book! I'm sorry to hear about your dismal experience with advertising on Facebook, but I understand it. The first step in marketing is determining the target market for your book (male? female? age range? location? what are their hobbies? what do they read? where do they shop?) and the best methods to reach them. Once that's figured out, then you'll know where, when and how to reach them with free and paid marketing/advertising. Best of luck in the sales of your book, Anne!

  • I just want to clarify: are you looking for reviews to re-post in your blog, website, social network; or are you asking if having reviews has helped increase book sales?

    There are many, many free book reviewers out there for the taking, if you're wanting to accumulate more reviews. Typically, you upload the pdf or epub version of your book for review, rather than snail-mailing, which should save you a ton of money. Contact me and I'll dig up some URL's for you. Also, writer's groups are an excellent way to get some reviews.

    It's imperative that you use the reviews, once you have them, to promote the book - ultimately increasing your sales. Social media is a great, and typically free, method of doing so. (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Review sites, blogs, etc.)

    I hope this has been helpful for you, Robert.

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