Writers in the Storm

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September 22, 2023

Book Reviews: 4 Steps to Validate Your Work

by Hannah Jacobson

Book Reviews - 4 Steps to Validate your Work

Validate your work through the power of book reviews

It's every author's dream: not only to publish your book, but also to see it read, recognized, and appreciated by adoring fans.

Book reviews play a crucial role in achieving this literary dream.

Why book reviews? They're a source of validation for many authors, an important litmus test of readers' reactions to your work. Reviews also represent a source of credibility from book buyers or literary professionals reviewing your work. Perhaps best of all, reviews are also a powerful way to establish a trusted connection with your readers.

Let's explore why reviews matter to authors and learn the art of validating your book through reviews.

Why book reviews matter

Why are book reviews so important for authors, book publishing professionals, and happy book buyers? There are a few reasons:

Credibility: Positive reviews from readers and critics lend credibility to your work. They signal to potential readers that your book is worth their time and investment.

Social proof: People often make decisions based on the actions (and reactions) of others. Positive book reviews serve as social proof, encouraging more readers to pick up your book.

Visibility: Books with a significant number of reviews tend to rank higher in online marketplaces like Amazon. More reviews mean more visibility, which can lead to increased sales.

Constructive feedback: Reviews provide valuable insight into what readers liked and disliked about your book. This feedback can help you improve as a writer and refine your future work.

Overall, book reviews provide you an opportunity to build momentum for your marketing efforts.

Validate your book through reviews

You wrote the book...congratulations! Now it's time to use book reviews to get validation for your story. Here are the first steps to take:

1. Optimize your timing (if it's an option).

When it comes to requesting reviews, timing is crucial. The sooner you can get started, the more runway you allow for your book marketing efforts to take off.

Provide advance review copies (ARCs) of your book to a select group of readers before its official release. This allows them to read and review your book in advance.

After your book is released (during your "post-launch" phase), periodically remind readers to leave reviews. Some readers may need time to finish the book, so gentle reminders can be highly effective.

If you are pursuing professional reviews, be sure to read all the rules and restrictions to ensure your book meets all of their initial qualifications and preferences.

2. Make your life easier with online platforms.

Online platforms are a goldmine for book reviews. Here's how to make the most of them:

Amazon and Goodreads: These platforms are two of the most popular places for readers to leave reviews, so it's important your profiles are easy to find. Ensure your book is listed and optimized on Amazon and Goodreads.

Professional book bloggers and reviewers: Connect with book bloggers and reviewers who specialize in your genre. Approach them professionally and offer a copy of your book for review, adhering to their unique review policies. Pro tip: Book Award Pro makes it a breeze to decipher which reviews are a good fit for your book, even on the Free plan.

Social media: Utilize your social media presence to request reviews and engage with readers. Share snippets of positive reviews to encourage your audience to share their thoughts, too.

3. Encourage honest and organic reviews from your readers.

As an author, you have garnered a special kind of respect from your readers. Engage with your audience, and they'll often be delighted to engage back with you (i.e. leave reviews!).

Build a connection with new readers through social media, your author website, and newsletters. Don't be afraid to leverage your network, too. Reach out to friends, family, and acquaintances who have read your book and ask them to leave reviews. Personal connections can often provide initial validation.

In the author's note at the end of your book, you can also politely request a review from your readers if they enjoyed your work. Be sure to express your gratitude for their time and support.

Remember, when you regularly engage your audience in an authentic way, they are more likely to provide feedback.

4. Make the most of positive reviews.

When you receive positive reviews, don't let them go to waste. Use them strategically to get more eyes on your book, and infuse your own personal style to engage effectively with your reads.

Pull standout quotes from positive reviews and share them on your book's cover, in marketing materials, and on social media.

You can also publicly thank readers who leave glowing reviews. This graceful acknowledgement fosters a sense of community and encourages more readers to share their thoughts.

Final thoughts

Book reviews are a powerful tool for authors, offering validation, credibility, and social proof. When you actively seek and value reviews as an important part of your author journey, you'll unlock new levels of reader engagement and book sales.

Remember to find the best review options for your book, nurture a delighted audience, and provide your readers a thoughtful and engaged experience. Your hard work will serve your writing career for many years to come.

How have reviews impacted your writing career?

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About Hannah Jacobson

Hannah Jacobson

Hannah Jacobson is the founder of Book Award Pro: the technology company that leads the industry in helping authors find the perfect reviews and awards for their books.

Sought by industry experts to craft their award-winning strategies, Hannah helped develop the AI technology that has become Book Award Pro. Every year, authors spanning 6 continents win thousands of new awards, receive valuable reviews, and effectively market their books in one easy-to-use platform.

Hannah is the Awards & Story Marketing Advisor for the Alliance of Independent Authors. She brings the experience and expertise of Book Award Pro to inform the ALLi awards resource, as well as to make industry changes on behalf of independent authors.

Her expertise has been recognized as the leading voice in book awards and author advocacy.

Begin your award-winning journey for free or connect with Hannah and Book Award Pro on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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17 comments on “Book Reviews: 4 Steps to Validate Your Work”

  1. Good post, Hannah, but I do these things. And still few people leave reviews.

    I've taken to asking for a comment rather than a review. I think many people fear a 'book review' from memories of writing them at school.

  2. Hi Hannah!
    Great suggestions. I would add that when writers include information about their books on social media, it's super helpful to include a direct link to their books so people can click and purchase as simply as possible.

    It's easy to move on and forget about finding the book. There's far too much content out there.

  3. I'm still in that early phase of the battle on my own books... trying to get ANY reviews. I worry about trying to buy them and having them not be legitimate, but have started to think I may have to just to get some traction.

    1. Lisa, you are off to a good start! Concern about paid reviews is common, and I'm glad to offer more clarification.

      If you are paying for a professional, third-party evaluation of your book, you will be safe. Examples of this are editorial reviews, evaluation from a professional blogger, etc. IMPORTANT: These sources will not guarantee a positive review. Having these professional reviews can be a boon for your credibility (and benefit your Amazon listing, especially if you include it in your A+ content).

      The concern about the term "paid reviews" happens when authors pay groups of readers to leave guaranteed positive reviews of their books. That is the behavior that is frowned upon or punished. Do not pay for a *guaranteed* positive review. Fortunately, that will be extremely rare to find.

      Basically, don't be afraid to pay for a professional evaluation of your work, and also don't be afraid to naturally build rapport with readers who will want to review your work. You'll get there in time! I hope this offers more clarification on exactly what these different scenarios look like.

      1. I should have been clearer, Denise - I wasn't thinking of going the route of illegitimate reviews. I posted the comment too quickly and I can see how it seemed like that.

        I'm actually looking more at industry reviews (Kirkus for example) that IS a legitimate review, but I've been less than thrilled with some of the reviewers they've been assigning to indies lately. But industry reviews definitely open doors.

        1. Denise and Lisa, thank you for your conversation here! As Lisa clarified, professional industry reviews are not a violation (and will improve your Amazon listing, for example, in the Editorial Reviews section). Additionally, they provide extra credibility for your work in other outlets.

          It's a joy to delve into the world of reviews together.

  4. Lots of great tips here! My debut picture book came out a couple of weeks ago! I’ve been getting reviews from folks I know, etc. But I’m going to continue the outreach for more!

    1. Bridgitte, congratulations on the release of your debut picture book! You are officially an author; what a joyous occasion.

      Reviews are a process, and you are doing great to start early. Keep up the good work!

    1. Stacey, congratulations on your upcoming book launch! You'll remember this special chapter of your book journey forever.

      Thank you for joining the conversation today. I'm so glad you found this article useful in your research.

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