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Book Reviews Sell Books


Every author wants glowing book reviews with quotable sentences to use as testimonials. A good review makes readers flock to the bookstore to buy the book.

But how do authors get their books reviewed? While the process is not difficult, the book review industry is changing. Today’s authors must designate a portion of their marketing budget for book reviews, and they must know how to use those book reviews to sell books.

Why Are Book Reviews Important?

More than 200,000 books are published each year. Less than 2% of those books sell more than 500 copies. We’ve all heard the saying, “So many books. So little time.” People don’t want to waste time or money reading books they won’t enjoy, so they rely on book reviews to help them make buying decisions. Your book will stand out if it receives positive reviews from reliable reviewers.

Where Do I Get a Book Review?

There are five top book reviewers: Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal, Midwest Book Review, and The New York Times; however, if you’re self-published, it is unlikely your book will be reviewed by any of them. Reviews from local newspapers and magazines will only help you sell books locally. Furthermore, print publications are phasing out book reviews. So where can an author still get a good book review? The Internet.

Online book reviews are becoming standard, and your book’s review will reach a wider audience on the Internet. Online reviews level the playing field for self-published authors. Today, people are less inclined to read paper magazines and newspapers. They go online for information. Reviews posted at Amazon and other online sites are more accessible than print reviews. Reader Views and RebeccasReads are examples of reliable online book reviewers of both traditional and self-published books.

Free vs. Paid Reviews

Authors generally expect free book reviews; that was standard in the twentieth century—advertisements paid for the book reviews in print media. Today, however, authors must cover the cost of book reviews. A book reviewer may spend hours reading a book and writing a review, and he deserves compensation for his work. Consequently, authors must budget for the cost of book reviews. Authors are recommended to budget for mailing out a minimum of twenty books for review.

How Do Paid Book Reviews Work?

Paid reviews have multiple advantages. Most publications that offer free reviews do not guarantee a book review because of the volume of books submitted. Only by paying for a review can one be guaranteed. Reputable book reviewers will provide a review within a specific timeline—two weeks is standard. They will also provide a review tear-sheet for your use, and give you permission to quote the review, provided you credit them. Many reviewers will also post your review online at such places as their own website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ezine Articles, Goodreads and Authors Den.

Several online book reviewers, such as Reader Views, will give you the option of a free or paid book review. Reader Views will review the book for free provided one of their reviewers is interested in it. If no one opts to review it after three months, the book is returned without a review. If authors do not want to wait three months for a review, an express review can be purchased to guarantee a review within two weeks.

Several book reviewers, including Reader Views, also offer various publicity packages ranging from a single book review, to written and podcast radio interviews, virtual book tours, and book videos. Such packages allow authors the opportunity to get book reviews and publicity within their budget.

Just because you pay for a book review does not mean a good review is guaranteed. It is better to receive an honest review than one that gives false praise. The reviewer’s reputation is at stake here; readers will not appreciate being misled to waste their time and money on a book that does not meet their expectations.

How Do I Use a Book Review to Sell Books?

Before you do anything with your book review, make sure you know what permissions the reviewer has given you for using the review. Are you allowed to use it in whole or only a certain percentage? Can you reprint it or quote from it?

Once you know your rights, some suggestions for using the review to help sell books are:

  • Post it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ezine Articles, Authors Den, Goodreads, Myspace etc. if the reviewer has not already done so.

  • Quote from the review on your book cover and the inside end papers. (If your book is already printed, use the review when you run a second printing).

  • Include the review in your press kit to gain more media attention.

  • Post and distribute the review at your book signings.

  • Post the review on your website.

  • Send copies of the review in your email newsletters.

Final Comments

More information about book reviews will be covered in future articles. But for now, here are a couple closing points:

  1. Be professional. Send the reviewer a thank you note. Whether you receive a positive or negative review, the reviewer has done you a favor. The reviewer’s comments will help you improve your next book or the next edition of your book. Even a negative review can be used to build a positive relationship with a reviewer, who will appreciate your professionalism. The book world is a small place and you do not want word to spread that you are difficult. Seek to build long-term relationships with book reviewers, and through them, with your reading audience.

  2. Be prepared for the book review to increase your book sales! A good review is worthless if you do not have copies of books to sell. Be prepared to fulfill your book orders so your customers are satisfied. After all, you want your book to be a bestseller!

By Reader Views

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