So, what exactly is the big deal about book reviews?  Why are they so important to self-publishing authors like you and me?  Everyone who’s every published, self-published, or thought about writing a book seems to have an opinion, but I’m interested in facts.  And the facts are in!  As it turns out, readers turn to the book reviews on websites like Amazon and Goodreads for help in choosing between the dozens upon dozens upon millions of books they might purchase. And after looking at the hundreds of newly published books in the Biography or Romance genre just last month, it’s easy to understand why a five-star review on your Amazon book page might sway readers to purchase it over different book with only two or three stars.  Which leads me to another vital question: how do you get those reviews?

One option is to ask for them–and to ask for them direct from the source. There are all kinds of excellent ways to make use of your existing social connections–on or offline–and you should definitely use them to contact potential reviewers on Facebook, Twitter, and your other social media platforms.  (Authors hang out on Snapchat and Tumblr too, you know!)  

You’ve probably heard that some websites even offer free reviews in return for copies of your book, but just how good are they at reaching new readers?  The answer in most cases happens to be not very.  Readers can quickly and easily get a glimpse of what their friends and the general public thinks about a certain book by taking a look on Amazon and Goodreads, both of which combine the sum total of posted reviews together into one single one-to-five-star average, and pick out particularly popular reviews to highlight.  Accessing these snapshots of a book’s success or struggle is as simple as a few basic keystrokes on Google.

Many readers, however, are looking for something more reputable and more thorough than a blindly-given and blindly-received two-sentence review on a website geared entirely towards pushing product.  These readers are looking for reputability, reliability, and the kind of insightful observations that only the very best reviewers offer.  And as a self-publishing author or someone who works with indie authors–I’m talking to myself every bit as much as I’m talking to you at this point–nothing quite equals an impartial book review from a credible source.  Getting your hands on these vitally important reviews can also pose a significant challenge for a self-publishing author who may lack the resources to sift these credible sources from common shysters, and the confidence to approach the most highly-acclaimed reviewers.

There are, of course, options: companies like my employer, Outskirts Press, offer packages that can quite literally save your bacon when it comes to gathering in the creme de la creme of book reviews.  Our package is called the  “Book Blast,” and it should save the aspiring author untold time, effort, and potential disappointment in pursuing the right kind of reviews.  The effective kind of reviews.  But don’t get me wrong!  I love Outskirts and its author-centered company ethic, but I’m not just here to hawk a sales promotion on unsuspecting readers.  You have to find the path that best suits your needs, help or no help, cost or no cost–but the fact remains you’ll need reviews, a lot of reviews and the best kind of reviews–in order to boost your book’s visibility and drive your sales.  Do your research, and dig deep to find those credible, highly-rated reviewers who have a guaranteed interest in reviewing self-published titles–and sit back to watch as your confidence blossom as your book finds its final audience.

You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

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