Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: August 18th, 2008 ]

If your self-published book is available for sale at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (BN.com), and other sites, you want to be sure your online listings have book reviews. You can always be sure your book has at least 1 review by asking one very close friend or relative to write a review for your book.

Once you have one review, your job is to solicit others. Obviously, if you’ve given some of your books away to friends or families, you should ask them to write a review in exchange for the book. As you continue to give them away, suggest to your customers that it would be helpful to you if they took the time to write an honest online review.  People like to help people, but usually only do so if you ask.

BONUS: Once you have reviews, you can use them in quotes for further promotion. For example:

“Best Book Ever!” — Amazon.com review.

Your book detail page on Amazon and Barnes & Noble have links for writing reviews of your book. If you haven’t done that yet, do it right away.

Remember, in order to write a review for a book on Amazon, each reviewer must have an Amazon account with which they have purchased something. This is how Amazon verifies the identity of the reviewer. They don’t need to buy your book, per se, they just need to buy something, anything, from Amazon. But it is nice if they DO buy your book, so suggest that to your friends first.

book review

Seven years on, and we’ve had ample time to expand upon the notion of book reviews and how beneficial they can be for your self-promotion strategy as an indie or self-published author!  And when I say ample, I mean that we’ve literally written essays on the subject.  For a litany of our best book-review-related material, check out this link, and this one, and this one.  Oh, and don’t forget our last in-depth primer post on the matter!

If the intervening years between 2008 and 2015 have taught me anything, it’s the power and influence of positive––and authentic––book reviews.  Which is why, when I look at my words from so long ago, the ones I want most to revisit are these: “[Reviewers] don’t need to buy your book, per se, they just need to buy something, anything, from Amazon.”  While the fact remains true that an Amazon reviewer isn’t strictlyr required to buy a book or an ebook to review it––and there are certainly many circumstances in which readers may legitimately acquire a book without purchasing it through Amazon or purchasing it at all––I see now that my words, out of context, might encourage authors to strong-arm their friends and loved ones into posting Amazon reviews out of obligation, rather than genuine interest.  I cannot stress how wrong I would be to encourage this notion.  Reviews should never be given unwillingly.  

Let me say that again: Reviews should never be given unwillingly.  We should try to avoid creating situations in which false approval is the platform upon which we launch our careers as authors.  As indie and self-published authors, we’re striving to shake off the constraints and residues of the so-called “Big Bad Publishing Institution,” a process which puts the torque into the word “spin” and serious money behind works and authors that critics are paid to laud.  We can work the system, yes––and self-promotion is in large part knowing how to cultivate a certain degree of cunning––but we should never sacrifice our self-respect.

Which is why we keep revisiting this idea of the book review.

There are so many ways in which we can be both cunning and conscientious, both the serpent and the dove.  Our past posts will lead you deeper into the specifics, but suffice it to say: don’t be afraid to go after reviews, and to openly and honestly ask for them, to outright challenge your readers and those who fall within your social sphere to offer them up … and also, don’t forget that the best review is an honest review, and the best way to keep hooking in good and honest press is to write another brilliant book.  Even better, if that’s possible, is helping out a fellow indie or self-published author by exchanging books and promises to support each other with favorable––and honest!––reviews.  What better way to cut through the bureaucratic red tape of traditional publishing than to participate in the broader exchange of thoughts and ideas with the whole self-publishing community?  Up and at ’em!  ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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