The Secret Your Favorite Author Won’t Tell You
As you read the final page of your latest e-book, your mind begins to race with questions:
“I wonder if the author wrote any other books like this one?”
“I wonder if any of them are on sale?”
As you finish the book, another question is asked. But this one is different. It’s a message asking if you want to leave a review of the book you just read.
You consider it for a moment, but you begin to think about all the things you want to get done today and decide maybe you’ll do it later. You go on about your day, and of course, later never comes. You never find the time to leave a review. Now don’t feel bad. You’re not alone. Most people don’t leave reviews of the books they read. Reviewing books isn’t something most of us enjoy.
I’m going to share something with you that your favorite author desperately wants you to know, but they’ll never tell you. Your positive review means a lot more to them than you will ever know and it has nothing to do with their ego or their status as an author. If you ask the average author what one thing they would change if they could, most would say they wish they could get people to review their books more often. The reason why they can’t tell you is that they’re afraid of being seen as needy, ungrateful, or insecure. It’s considered bad form for an author to publicly ask for reviews.
For the last month, nearly every dream I’ve had from God has been about publicizing my new book. I’ve never been much of a salesman or promoter, so I had to take a crash course to learn how to promote a book. The Holy Spirit has given me some great strategies, but one thing I never realized is how important book reviews are. While there are other retailers of books, Amazon is by far the world’s largest bookseller, so I’d like to use them to illustrate a few key points.
When a reader searches Amazon for a book, they tend to use the Amazon search bar, which makes suggestions based on their search terms and what books rank highest in the categories they’re searching. The chances of a book being recommended to them are mostly determined by the book’s rank in a searchable category. There are 2 major ways that Amazon ranks books on any given subject:
Amazon has many ways to list books, but they all boil down to either a sales-based listing or a review-based listing. If two competing books have similar sales and are equal in other respects but one has significantly more positive reviews, the one with more positive reviews will be recommended more often by virtue of its higher average rating.
When an author runs a promotion on their book, it’s a good idea to recruit help from a website that promotes books that are on sale. (I used one such website during my last promotion.) Many of these websites have a minimum number of positive reviews that are required before they’ll consider publicizing a book. If an author can’t get the required reviews – they can’t publicize their book. And if they can’t publicize their book – how are they ever going to get more reviews?
It’s probably the undecided buyer who receives the most benefit from reviews by other readers. When a potential buyer is considering a book, the more favorable reviews a book has – the more information they have to base their decision on and the more likely they are to make a purchase. Very few undecided buyers will purchase a book that lacks positive reviews.
Most authors realize the importance of positive reviews even if their readers do not. And because they can’t always rely on their readers to leave reviews willingly, they’ve found creative (sometimes illegal) ways in which to obtain them. There are now a number of Facebook groups authors can join where they can trade reviews of their books with other authors. There are many websites available where authors can purchase positive reviews for a fee. While some of these practices are against Amazon policy, desperate authors are still using them. That’s how important positive reviews have become. I think it’s a shame that authors feel they must resort to such measures.
When you leave a positive review for a book that you enjoyed, you’re not just giving the author a pat on the back or stroking their ego. You’re making a significant contribution to their success as an author and if they write for a living – you’re helping them pay their bills. Authors rely heavily on positive reviews. Leaving a positive review for a book you liked is equivalent to leaving a tip for a waitress. Every positive review makes a huge difference.
After you’ve downloaded a free or discounted book or after you’ve read a paperback that has impacted you in a positive way – please return the favor and go to Amazon, (or Goodreads or B&N) and leave a well-written, honest review of their book. Then tell your friends about it. Some authors spend years writing a single book. I think it’s reasonable for them to ask us to take a few minutes to write a review and let them know their time was well-spent.
I’m not posting this message in order to guilt anyone into leaving a review of my book. Many people have already left positive reviews and I am very grateful for that. I’m writing this because it occurred to me that I’ve publicized a lot of free book downloads over the years, but I haven’t given the authors of those books the reviews they deserve. So I plan to leave reviews of the books I’ve read. Please consider doing the same.
Thanks in advance.