People like what people like. I say this a lot to the authors I work with to emphasize the importance of having reader reviews. But what about the authors that already have great reviews, or even awards? Authors often tell me their books get great reviews (on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, etc.), receive literary awards, and still, the book sales just don’t happen. Having great reviews is just one component of having a great marketing plan; the next step is maximizing those great reviews and converting them into sales. Below are six ways to leverage your reviews to drive more sales:
1. Leverage: How are you leveraging your book’s positive publicity? Are you leveraging it at all? If not, you should be. Your first step should be to promote any awards, and there are several free ways you can do that:
o Announce it to local media: If your book has won an award, make sure to share this with your local media. Honorable mentions are great, but not as appealing.
o Contact your local bookstores. If in the past, a local bookstore has not shown interest in your title, having an award attached to your book may entice them to change their minds. The statement I previously made “people tend to like what other people like” applies to bookstores as well.
o Add it to your website. Make sure on your website to have a place for all accolades your book has received. You can also list your award-winning status in your email signature block.
o Reach out to reviewers: If you have previously reached out to reviewers with no response, why not approach them a second time and highlight this award?
o Seek endorsements: An award can be a great way to make your book stand out when approaching individuals for high-profile endorsements.
2. Reviews: What about those great reader reviews? If you have a lot of reviews, but still aren’t seeing commensurate sales, I recommend taking a lesson from the first point and ask yourself: “Am I making the most of these reviews?” Sharing positive reviews could be the push you need to get responses from possible endorsers or bookstores. I would caution you that the same doesn’t apply to reviewers. Most reviewers aren’t swayed by books that have tons of reviews. They either select the book or they don’t, so don’t push this one too hard.
3. Engagement: It’s important to occasionally take a step back, and make sure you’re engaging your readers as much as possible. Too often, we fall into the trap of finding one method of engagement that really works, at the expense of other outlets. For example, when did you last send thank you notes to your reviewers, or posted a thank you message on their blogs? If your website or blog is receiving lots of comments, I encourage you to connect with readers there, too. Additionally, have you considering getting onto Goodreads, Library Thing or Wattpad and building readership there? Finally, if you’re a fiction author you should consider engaging your readers with your characters. Making your readers fall in love (or in hate) with your characters is a great way to build a strong, loyal audience.
4. Media gets media: Everyone wants to be on Good Morning America, right? Authors often tell me, “I’ve gotten tons of local media coverage, but nothing nationally.” My advice is to start small; this is pretty typical but luckily, there’s something you can do to make traction with the national media. Just remember: “media loves media.” What does this mean? The more media you get, the more you’ll get. When pitching national media, make sure to include a one-sheet of all of the places you’ve been featured, even if it’s your own town. Demonstrating interest in your book will spark other media interest, which will likely help you sell books!
5. The importance of book reviews: Reviews are a critical part of the publishing industry, but how much do they actually contribute to book sales? Frankly, it’s hard to know. While I can say that a lot of exposure sells books, it’s really about the right kind of exposure and in a myriad of areas. If you’ve been heavily focused on getting a ton of book reviews, and your Amazon page is populated with positive reviews from top to bottom—but you’re still not selling books— focus your efforts onto a new area of promotion. And don’t underestimate the importance of content: free and frequent content. For example, don’t wait eighteen months to release a book that leaves your reader hanging for more from your characters.
6. Taking a realistic approach to book sales: It’s tempting to get discouraged when looking at sales numbers, but the truth is, most authors think we should be selling more than we actually are. While there is an “average” in book sales, keep in mind, that can be skewed by bestsellers like XYZ, who are selling zillions of books. But what’s a realistic approach to book sales? As is usually the case – the answer is somewhere in between. If you have numerous awards and are selling a book a day, that’s actually not a bad start in many markets. For example, if you wrote a contemporary romance novel, it will be hard to sell as many books as if you were in a narrower, more niche market. Some authors never sell more than a book a month. Seriously. Placing your book in a niche market can really help you to stand out from the crowd.
Getting positive reviews and accolades is a fantastic tool in your marketing arsenal, but if you don’t take the time to share those accolades with anyone, then it’s like you don’t have them at all. Using the six tips above, you can make those reviews, awards, and accolades work for you to sell your book!
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.