Reviews can have a big influence, positive and negative, on your sales. All books, including the best-sellers, receive two outcomes. Either, the readers liked the book, and they will give positive reviews, or the book did not meet their expectations, and they will criticize it. We should handle both with optimism, and especially for the negative reviews, we should use them to improve our skills. The reviews section is the library for readers seeking more information about a book. They will be seeking a reassurance that other people have read the book and they recommend it. It is for this reason that you must be aware of the ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ in reviews. It will determine how readers use reviews to judge your book.
Here are some do’s and don’t in relation to book reviews:
- Offer Incentives
Offering ethical incentives is a great strategy because readers like offers. It should however be done in an unbiased manner. The offered gift should be for everyone whether they left a positive or a negative review. Some examples of the incentives could be shopping vouchers, tickets to a prize winning contest or simple discounts. However, strategize on how to make it clear to the readers that the reviews have to be honest and constructive.
- Encourage Reviews from Readers
You should engage with the readers in the comment sections and get to hear their thoughts. If a reader says that they really enjoyed reading your books, ask them to leave a review for you. Let it be a seamless process, you can attach the link to the reviews section on your website, this will take the reader directly to where they can leave the review. The good thing with attaching a link is that other readers will not have to wonder how they can leave a review; they will follow the same process.
- Promote Positive Reviews
Due to the prominence of book reviews, you can use them as a marketing tool for your books. It is possible not to have professional reviews, in this case, readers’ reviews will come in handy. Ensure you share them to your websites and also include them in a common place of your book such as the blurb. You do not have to share all the positive reviews. You can use the ones that appear original or ones written by a famous newspaper or person.
The readers took their valuable time to leave a comment regarding your book, the least you can do is engage them and reply to their comments. Responding to reviews shows that you are acknowledging the reader’s efforts. It is more courteous to address them by name and appreciate their time and comment. If the review is negative, acknowledge it the same and thank the reader for taking their time to read your book and leave an honest review. You can go ahead and apologise for not meeting their expectations or any other neutral writing. It is also okay sometimes to say nothing at all to negative reviews.
- Pay for Fake Reviews
Enjoying the fruits of your labour the right way is fulfilling to the heart. Paying to get fake reviews is outright lack of self-esteem and it will not help to improve your skills. They are often poor quality and they are obviously not authentic. Fake reviews undermine your credibility and readers would rather not be enticed by bought reviews. This will not affect the current book only; you will have created a bad reputation for your brand. Readers who have noted your name will make sure that they do not read or recommend any other series of your books. It is worse if they write a review claiming that your reviews are not authentic. Let the reader be motivated by the book to give their honest review.
- Ask People You Know to Review
It is all right to recommend your book to people you know, but do not ask them to write a review especially, if they don’t usually review books. If they would like to, then, they will leave a review by choice. I once had someone come up to me at a book launch and say, ‘Why did you get fake reviews posted on Amazon?’. Surprised, I said, ‘I didn’t do that, why do you think that?’ He said, ‘Because virtually every reviewer has posted no other reviews before.’ The author had asked family, and friends to post reviews or they had done so thinking it was helpful. It sends the wrong idea to other readers.
- Create Fake Reviews Yourself
It might seem like a viable option in the short term, especially when starting out, but in the long run it might be damaging to your career. With the available technology some websites are designed to spot fake reviews. You should actually never write reviews for yourself, what you can do is engage readers who are reviewing.
- Dismiss all Criticisms
Some reviews will have nothing to do with your book. They will be 1-star or overly negative. Fiction in particular is very subjective. We cannot all enjoy the same thing. One man’s meat, is another man’s poison. The only way to be conclusive with reviews is by looking at the pattern of reviews and you can tell what it means. Being open minded will help you to take every comment positively and improve on the necessary changes in your skills. After all, to err is human.
How you handle reviews can create or break your future relationship with the readers. The most important things to remember in relation to reviews is to encourage them, recognise their value and use the reviews as an opportunity to learn and build relationships. Take advantage of positive reviews to encourage more readers to purchase your book. Do not react emotionally to negative reviews, if necessary encourage the reviewer to discuss the matter offline. You can also visit the website of the best-selling authors and see how they deal with reviews. Above all, do not let all the positive praises consume you, no one is perfect, always strive on improving yourself.