I recently bought a book from legendary American author, T.C. Boyle. When I got it home, I was jarred to notice that the book jacket contained exactly zero advanced praise. I became immediately skeptical that the book could possibly be any good—and we're talking about T.C. Boyle. Now imagine the value of that advanced praise if we're not talking about T.C. Boyle.
The value of book reviews can't be understated; but getting good book reviews requires commitments for time and finances. To help you best determine where your commitments might be best spent, I've broken down the who and how to for different types of book reviews.
These are reviews from sources that exist to serve publishers and the publishing industry. Review sources like Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Foreword Reviews, and others are read by members of the trade, including librarians, booksellers, media, distributors and more. Reviews from trade sources could help you reach stakeholders in different areas of publishing, as well as consumers. Trade Reviews typically require books to be submitted for review a minimum of three months before publication, and editors choose the books that will receive reviews. Kirkus, Foreword, and others offer fee-for-review services that guarantee reviews for your book.
If Stephen King recommends a book, I'll probably read it. That's the power of an expert review, and is why it's something you should consider as part of your pre-publication book marketing efforts. Think outside the box with who you're considering—scientists can love sci-fi—but get them a copy of your book as soon as possible, because you'll want their quote on your book cover. Expert reviews are a great way to attract consumers, as well as trade, and even schools and universities.
Anyone who has ever purchased anything from a retailer that offers star-ratings on its inventory knows the value of a product rating. In the world of readers, we're talking about the reader-review. While it's not recommended to get bogged down in the comment section, a high star rating on a website like Amazon or (Amazon-owned) GoodReads can sway a reader. Don't be afraid to ask your readers and fans to leave reviews on your book's various retail and social media pages.
Whether you're hoping to reach people who sell books or people who buy books, book reviews should play a role in your book marketing efforts.