If you’re an indie author with at least one book under your belt, you’ll be aware of the importance of book reviews. It becomes painfully obvious to every indie author very quickly. I’d also wager that the first word that pops into your head when you think of book reviews is probably ‘Amazon‘. This is understandable and justified – Amazon reviews are among the most influential factors determining book sales for self-publishing authors.
This is because self-publishing authors are largely ignored by the mainstream press, so the only way for you to stand out is to get as many positive Amazon reviews as possible so you rise to the top of your genre and increase visibility of your title. Because, let’s face it, Amazon is the online shop window for books these days (although Goodreads is also hugely popular and will lead to some sales too).
However, while I recognise the huge importance of Amazon book reviews, I don’t believe they’re the be all and end all. Yes, indie authors should strive to get Amazon reviews, but they should also be looking to get book reviews outside of Amazon, too – and lots of them.
BOOK REVIEW WEBSITES VS. BOOK BLOGGERS
So where does an author get book reviews outside of Amazon and Goodreads? On indie book blogs and book review websites, of course! Book blogs tend to be run by individuals who specialise in a certain genre or genres, while book review websites are usually run as commercial businesses, cover a wide range of genres and employ a team of book reviewers.
Both have their advantages. Book bloggers tend to provide free book reviews but may not be able to guarantee you a review as they get inundated with books; book review websites often charge for reviews but can thus ensure that you will get your book reviewed – and the prices vary greatly from site to site.
Here are three key reasons why every indie author needs to include book review websites as part of their marketing strategy if they want to maximise book sales.
REACH A WIDER AUDIENCE
The obvious benefit to getting your books reviewed on sites outside of Amazon is to reach more potential buyers. No matter how many Amazon reviews you have, and no matter how clever you are at picking the right keywords, there will always be people who fail to find your book on Amazon.
If you get reviewed on several book blogs and book review websites, your book will be seen by many more book lovers, which is clearly only going to help you sell more books! It’s a blindingly obvious point but it needs to be reiterated, so blinkered are many authors in their focus on Amazon these days.
IMPROVE YOUR AUTHOR SITE’S SEO
The beauty of book review blogs and book review sites is that they usually allow you to include a hyperlink to your author website. Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines have always, and possibly will always, value the number of reputable, relevant links that are connected to a given website. The more book reviews you get on sites outside of Amazon, the higher your author website will rank in the SERPs.
Assuming you have optimised your website effectively for keywords relating to your book genre and follow good SEO practice in general, you could end up on page 1 of Google for, say, ‘crime fiction’. Imagine what that would do for your popularity and sales over time!
It’s important to remember that the reviews of your book don’t have to be positive for it to benefit your SEO. A link from a reputable, relevant site will improve your site’s ranking regardless of whether the reviewer liked your book or not.
Another important factor that I believe many indie authors overlook when it comes to book reviews is credibility. While the usual Amazon reviews written by Joe Bloggs or Jane Doe may lead to some people buying your book, other readers may be more discerning or cynical. They may see effusive one-line reviews that say things as generic as ‘This is the best book ever!’ and think, ‘Hmm, I wonder if their best friend wrote that’ or ‘Did he pay someone to say this?’
In contrast, if the book cover has a well-worded, positive quote from Kirkus Reviews or a well-known book blogger, or if the Amazon’s editorial section features a list of high-star ratings from book review websites, this is likely to carry more weight than said Amazon review. We are more likely to believe a reputable, familiar source than a random member of the public. And if your book wins an award or even gets shortlisted for one, that’s likely to have an even greater effect on sales in the long term.
These are some of the main reasons why every indie author should be getting reviews on book blogs and book review sites. Amazon may be the marketplace where customers will buy your book, but will they all find your book in the first place without some external book reviews? Remember, the mainstream media may not care much about indie authors, but there are many websites out there that do. And as the Huffington Post point out in this article, “getting reviews from indie book review sites can propel your book onto the best-seller lists of the very media outlets that shun them”.
The Book Reviewers provide professional, unbiased reviews of books by self-publishing authors and indie presses. We offer both free and paid options – if you’d like to submit your book for review, click here.