March 20, 2018

This is the reason why it’s not worth chasing reader reviews

by Belinda Griffin

This is the third and final post in my 3-part series on overcoming the biggest book marketing frustrations, as revealed by my Book Marketing Frustrations Survey.

In part 1, I explained how successful authors overcome the challenge of not knowing where to focus time, effort and resources and in part 2, I showed you how to deal with the problem of not getting enough book exposure.

Now it’s time to concentrate on getting reader reviews, which is a top frustration for 41% of authors.

I have mixed feelings about this frustration being among the top 3. On the one hand I’m pleased to see that authors recognise the value of reader reviews, which is why they’re frustrated when they don’t get them, but on the other hand, it’s sad to see this is such a challenge.

The reason reader reviews matter

Reviews are hugely important for both book exposure on Amazon and ultimately sales. They are what we call in the marketing world, social proof.

The human brain does not like risk, and although a £2.99 ebook may not be a hugely risky investment for most, our brain still searches for evidence that others have already taken the risk and survived. That is, the book delivers on its promise (it is a romance or sci-fi, whatever category it claims to be) and it is a good read. Reviews can remove the element of risk, however low-cost the purchase.

Reader reviews can also help someone decide between books. A reader may not have an issue with the price, but they are faced with so many options it can be impossible to choose. Reviews can make all the difference.

The reviews don’t even have to be all 5-star. Having several 3- or 4-star reviews is more effective than no reviews at all.

Gathering reviews

But how do you get reader reviews? That’s the big question.

Well, there are many ways and plenty of articles on the subject online - one of my favourites is Kindlepreneur’s How To Get Free Book Reviews With No Blog, No List, And No Begging. However, this tactic does require persistent effort as well as a certain amount of luck.

Many book launch experts will tell you to have at least 10-20 reviews in place when you launch if you want to hit the category no 1 spot. Great! But where are these 10-20 reviews coming from? If you are a few books in and have built a mailing list, it may be doable. But just starting out? That’s a challenge.

And of course you can’t ask friends and family because Amazon will actively remove reviews from people it thinks you have a personal relationship with.

What’s an author to do? Well, call me controversial, but I think your best bet is to let go of the frustration and move on.

I’m not saying give up on reviews altogether or forever, but always choose the best tactics for you and your book and for where you’re at in your author journey.

When overwhelm and not knowing where to focus are other reasons for frustration, there comes a point where you have to say that chasing reviews is not a valuable use of your time and something else may be more worthy of your attention, at least for now.

What might that be, do you think?

You guessed it, reach out to your readers!

Relationships are important

Let me tell you a story.

When I was first starting out in online marketing I had an idea for a blog that I thought could work but I really wasn’t sure (children’s literacy, if you’re interested). I was following a well known blogger and really enjoyed the content he shared. I joined his mailing list and eventually when one of his emails particularly resonated with me (he was talking about his failed start-up that was in the area of children’s literacy software), I sent him a question about my blog idea.

And he replied!

I couldn’t believe it. He must have received so many emails on a daily basis but he got back to me personally within 24 hours and showed a real interest in my question.

That single intimate exchange had me hooked on everything he said, he had become a real person in my mind, not just some internet ‘guru’.

I have stayed on his list for more than five years and bought several of his products. I still think he’s one of the best and truly authentic.

And when he asked me for a book review? Guess what, I wrote one.

If he had ignored my first email, would I still be on his list? Maybe, maybe not. But I almost certainly wouldn’t have responded to his request for a review.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

If you take the time to forge relationships with readers, they will stick with you. If you give them what they want, not only in the form of excellent books but also interesting blog content or emails, whatever you choose to do, when you reach out to ask for something in return, such as a review, they will be far more likely to say yes.

Forging genuine relationships with readers is the number 1 strategy that will help you to overcome the frustration with getting reader reviews.

No one owes you a review

Remember, no one owes you anything and as much as reviews are helpful to authors, readers don’t understand this and the vast majority - however lovely they may be as people - will not leave reviews. It’s not personal. Be wary of asking for too much or taking your readers’ attention and interest for granted. You have to earn their loyalty.

Of course your book’s buyers are not the only ones capable of leaving reviews. A great approach for reviews can be to connect with book bloggers - people who review books all day long!

If you’re going to approach book bloggers, do your due diligence. Check they review books in your genre, personalise your pitch and respect their turnaround times.

Action steps

  1. Instead of chasing reviews, focus on getting to know your readers better.
  2. Make a list of book bloggers that review books like yours (using Google and book blogger directories). Personally reach out to each blogger individually and start forming a relationship.
  3. Target Amazon top reviewers (using the suggestions provided in the Kindlepreneur post above).

Do you know your readers?

So that’s it. Getting to know your readers is the number 1 strategy you need to know to overcome the top 3 book marketing frustrations of not knowing where to focus time/effort/resources, not getting enough exposure and getting reader reviews.

In fact, getting to know your readers and how to reach them is the best strategy for dealing with ALL of the frustrations listed in the survey.

Know your readers and you can eliminate much of the marketing busy work and so many tactics that are simply time sucks. When you know how to reach your perfect target readers, you can gather reviews, achieve greater exposure and ultimately sell more books, with less time, money and effort and without experiencing overwhelm.

So, do you know who your readers are or how to reach them with your marketing? If not, this has to be your #1 priority task!

Need some help getting to know who your readers are? I invite you to book a FREE 30-minute Book Marketing Breakthrough Session with me. Schedule a time that suits you here:


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