Professional reviews from trusted sources command credibility from the outset and can be used in ways consumer reviews cannot. Here are eight ways to make the most of a professional book review.
Let’s face it, all book reviews are not created equal. You can ask all your friends and relatives to post book reviews on Amazon, but in a world increasingly skeptical of “fake news” and reviews, readers may regard them with suspicion. Industry players like booksellers and librarians may be even more likely to disregard these consumer reviews.
On the other hand, a professional book review from a noted source – established magazines and newspapers, trusted bloggers, review services – command credibility from the outset and can be used in ways consumer reviews cannot.
Here are eight ways to make the most of a professional book review.
1. Share it on social media
Professional reviews provide excellent content for your social media outreach. Posting a new review on your Facebook page or via Twitter lets you remind your friends and followers you have a book available. You might post, “Got a great book review from XYZ praising my ‘keen sense of character development’ … I’m honored!” and include a link to the full text. Do the same on all your social media platforms.
2. Post reviews on your author website
The more professional reviews you accumulate on your author website, the more potential readers will take your work seriously. Once you assemble enough of them, add a tab for “Book Reviews” at the top of your website and include excerpts and links to full reviews.
3. Add it to your book jacket
While self-published authors might include excerpts from friends and unknown sources on the back of their books, some readers might interpret this as an inability to find anyone else to vouch for the book. This is where a professional review can carry more weight. Post excerpts from these reviews – even reviews of older books of yours – on the front or back of your book jacket.
4. Include reviews on press releases and marketing material
You should include a press release with your book when contacting mainstream press, bloggers, librarians, and bookstores. It can serve as an introduction to industry insiders so they can learn something about your book – and you – at a glance. An excerpt from a recent review at the top of the press release will catch attention, and if you’re fortunate enough to have a number of positive reviews, include excerpts on a separate page. If you’re sending out flyers or postcards to announce book signings, or making bookmarks to promote your title, include review excerpts on them as well.
5. Use a review to get more reviews
One good review is terrific: three is even better. You’re more likely to get attention from a review source if you already have a glowing review on your press release and marketing materials. Use that initial positive review as leverage when reaching out to other reviewers. “My book just received a rave review from XYZ, who called me ‘the next-generation Elmore Leonard.’ Can I send you a copy?”
6. Post reviews in the editorial section of online bookstores
Amazon and Barnes & Noble both have designated spots for professional reviews, separate from those written by consumers, so readers know they come from unbiased sources. If you’re unfamiliar with how to go about posting in these spots, this blog post offers directions (at the half-way mark of the article).
7. Use reviews to improve your writing
Even if a book review didn’t sing your praises, it’s not a total loss. Set it aside for a little while and circle back to it after you’ve absorbed the disappointment. Try your best to consider the reviewer’s points as dispassionately as you can. The reviewer knows the genre and has read many books from a wide range of authors; his or her comments can help you when you make revisions or begin a new writing project.
8. A review can boost your confidence
At BlueInk Review, authors often tell us how a positive review gave them confidence and a sense of validation – which is no small thing. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and self-doubt can worm its way into your daily thoughts. A positive review from a professional source can turn that around and give you the confidence to submit your work to contests and other reviewers and promote with all your heart.
Patricia Moosbrugger is a literary agent and subsidiary rights specialist who co-founded BlueInk Review with Patti Thorn, former books editor of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. BlueInk Review is a fee-based service that offers serious, unbiased reviews of self-published books. BlueInk reviews are penned by writers drawn largely from major mainstream publications, such as The New York Times and Washington Post, and editors of respected traditional publishing houses. Select reviews appear in Booklist magazine, a highly respected review publication that reaches 60,000 librarians.
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