Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Thars Gold in Them Thar Reviews"

Word of mouth. That’s it. Ask any marketing guru and he or she will tell you that word of mouth is the main source on which people rely to locate a product or service they want.

Neighbors meet at the backyard fence. “Have you been to that new restaurant in town? They have the biggest and best burgers around.” Or “Don’t call Jake’s for your plumbing. Herb will give you a better deal.”

That’s why Angie’s List is popular to locate a home service.
It’s why Consumer Reports is a widely used magazine for people looking to buy a car or computer. Angie’s List and Consumer Reports are the 21st century’s answer to over-the-fence neighbor-to-neighbor talk of yesteryear.

So how about books? Same thing: Word of mouth. A friend reads a great book and tells me about it. My daughter tells me to not waste my money on the latest trilogy. My mom gives me a call and says she just read a wonderful book. All readers I trust, so I listen.

Reviews for books are the new over-the-fence word-of-mouth recommendation for a good read. Well, not all that new. We’ve been reading book reviews in newspapers for quite some time. We learned how to write them in eighth grade. But online reviews, reviews and ratings posted on accessible sites such as Amazon or Goodreads, are relatively new. And the best part is that everyone is invited to post a review. Your voice has the chance to be heard (read) by millions of people. People wondering if the book they are considering is worth the time and money.

Sounds easy enough. I go to Amazon or Goodreads, type in the title of a book I've read. I rate it by clicking on the number of stars I want, post my comments, and voila! I’ve reviewed a book. My three or four sentences may help another reader make a good choice. I know they will help the author.

Reviews are like gold to authors. Even if the review is not glowing, its presence shouts, “Somebody actually read this book!” Authors feed on that affirmation.

And the word on the proverbial street is that how much online ad exposure a book gets is based on how many reviews the book gets. You know those little trails of books across the bottom of the page you see when you look at a book on Amazon? The ones with a header that reads: “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…”

Well, to get the picture of your book to show up there, you need reviews. Some say ten, others say more.

As an author, you want to go into a bookstore to ask them to carry your book? You need reviews.

Your local news wants to see if you’re newsworthy? They’ll look at your reviews.

Reviews are like gold. And they’re easy to do. So why don’t more people write them? Why don’t you?

1. I’m not sure how to go about it. I mean it is technology, after all. Uh…yeah. It is technology, but totally doable. I mean I can do it so I know you can. Here’s how:

·      Go to Amazon and type in the title of the book you want to review
·      Scroll down to the section called “Customer Reviews”

·      At the end of that section on the first page you will see a small gray box with the words “Write a Customer Review” in it.
·      Click on that box and follow the directions.

“Easy Peasy,” as my grandson would say.
And writing a review on Goodreads is even easier!

2. I don’t know if I could write a big, fancy review. Good. I don’t want a big, fancy review. I want an honest review by a regular sort of person like me. Three or four sentences? Totally fine. Of course you can write more if you have more to say, but keep it simple. You’re not there to impress anyone. Your job is to inform.

3. I have nothing new to say. Okay. Then say what’s been said…in your own words. One person writes, “It was a quick read” then you write, “I finished it over the weekend.”

4. I didn’t like it and I don’t want to be mean. Interestingly enough, I don’t want you to be mean either. Honest? Yes. Mean? No. Respectful? Yes. Mean? No. So you didn’t like the book. Not everyone likes everything. Be honest, but be specific. “I didn’t like the book because it didn’t have vulgar language and I think that would have made it more realistic.” Okay. The next person reading your review may be looking for a clean read and buy the book. Or the next one may think as you do and pass over it. Your comment was helpful to readers. That particular comment wouldn’t change what I do or say but another might. I’m not going to throw foul language in my books to make them sell, but if reviewers commented on something I could/should consider changing, I’ll listen.

My publisher says a hundred reviews is like gold. I don’t know what happens on Amazon when I reach 100. I don’t know if my publisher will notice and smile. I only know that I am only six reviews away from finding out…and I’m throwing a party!

The Goodreads ratings can be found here: Reviews on Goodreads

A word about Goodreads: You can rate and review books you read ten years ago. You can engage in discussions with authors, join book clubs, and enter contests. Goodreads is like a big, interactive, online  book club.

As a reader, do reviews influence your decision to buy a book?


  1. Yes reviews influence my decision to buy a book, if they liked it or if someone found the nudity/language in it PG rated or above I will not read it if it's free. I do review & enjoy letting the author that I found their work a great read :)

    1. Thank you, Deanna for the insight. I think as a reader, I. too, value reviews. I don't rely on them alone, but they do influence me.


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