Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Six Common Myths about Book Reviews

by Dana Lynn Smith, the Savvy Book Marketer

Book reviews are a powerful promotional tool, but many authors have some misconceptions about reviews and how to obtain them. Here are some common myths about getting book reviews.

Myth #1 - Book reviews are just for new books.

It's true that book review journals read by librarians and booksellers review books at or soon after publication. It's best to focus your review efforts during the first year of a book's life, but some venues will review older books.

Myth #2 - No one will review a self-published book.

It is more challenging for self-published authors and small presses to get reviews in certain venues, but it's certainly not impossible. Self-published books are far more likely to be reviewed if they are produced to industry standards (well written, edited and designed). A number of book review websites welcome self-published books or even focus specifically on them, and there are several book journals like Midwest Book Review that are friendly to independent and small presses.

Myth #3 - Book reviews are just for books being sold to bookstores and libraries.

Trade journals like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal are designed to meet the needs of booksellers and librarians, so they focus on books that are available through major distributors and wholesalers at standard discounts. But there are plenty of other places to get book reviews, including book blogs, topical blogs, online bookstores, specialty publications, literary magazines, and reader networks.

Myth #4 - You can't get reviews for ebooks.

It takes some extra research to identify revenue venues that will review books that are available only in ebook format. Many reviewers accept only printed books, although that is slowly changing as the use of ebook readers becomes more widespread. There are several websites, such as Kindle Obsessed, that focus on ebooks.

Myth #5 - No one pays attention to the reviews in online bookstores.

It's true that some shoppers view online reviews with skepticism, but I do believe that reviews (or the lack of them) influences shoppers in online bookstores. In my book, How to Get Your Book Reviewed, I cite a research study by the Yale School of Management that backs this up. With so many books to choose from, shoppers are often looking for some factor to help them decide between several books.

Having very few or no reviews on an Amazon sales page can give the impression that the book isn't very popular. Reviews can also give the shopper more insight into the book, beyond the product description.

Be sure to encourage customers and book reviewers to post their review or recommendation on Amazon.

Myth #6 – It's not worth the effort of pursing reviews.

Book reviews serve two basic purposes: they bring your book to the attention of people who might not have learned about it otherwise, and they help potential customers decide if your book is a good fit for them. The more reviews you have, and the more places those reviews appear, the greater your reach and your selling power.

All book marketing plans should include a strategy for maximizing the value of reviews, endorsements and testimonials.

About the Author

Dana Lynn Smith, The Savvy Book Marketer, helps authors and indie publishers learn how to sell more books through her how-to guides, blog, newsletter, and private coaching. Learn how to use reviews to sell more books in her comprehensive guide, How to Get Your Book Reviewed, and get more book marketing tips at


  1. This post popped into my inbox as I returned to it from sending out a begging letter to a Janeite (Jane Austen fan. It's hard and as a new writer friends aren't quite used to the idea they could review the book yet. But I'm gently encouraging them.

  2. This was an interesting post Maggie. I really struggle to get book reviews. In fact, I only have five to date for my first novel and none for my second! I think they are important, I just don't know what to do to get some, apart from sending the novels to reviewers free of charge, but then they don't always reply anyway. I will definitely look at the book you recommend.

  3. Nice post Dana. Very interesting. I just may have to check out your books, as I certainly could use more reviews!

    Penny Estelle

  4. I don't have enough reviews. To be reviewed by a reputable reviewer is not an easy person to find. And I do like honest reviews. Some I have sent to never answer. What then?

  5. Lorrie, I don't have enough reviews either. And you're right, it's not easy finding reviewers who resonate with your books. And yes, many don't reply. I think with those who don't reply, you could try e-mailing them again, in, say, about six to eight months. After that, I'd assume they're just not interested. I spend a lot of time combing the sites for bloggers and reviewers I think will like my books. Too much time, actually! But I don't know of any quick way to get my books out to reviewers other than plain old hard slog.

  6. Hi Maggie - thanks for sharing that Dana was at your place today - Hi Dana:) I just went and picked up a copy of your book:) All good points about the book reviews. Thank you for the info:)

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