11 Ways to Make the Most of a Professional Book Review

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

You’ve finished your book and now it’s time for the often-dreaded task of marketing. Where to begin? Step one is to obtain book reviews—and not just the kind your friends and family post on Amazon. While such crowdsourced reviews can be helpful, savvy readers—and more importantly, booksellers, librarians and other industry professionals—will be looking for more credible reviews.

Aim for a professional review (or two, or three) written by an unbiased third party, such as a critic from a mainstream newspaper or magazine, an influential blogger, or a fee-based service such as BlueInk Review (which uses writers largely from mainstream publications and prominent publishing houses). These are sources that command credibility and can be used in ways consumer reviews cannot.

The next step is to maximize the review’s impact by using it in your book marketing efforts. This will give your book an advantage other titles don’t have. Here are 10 ways to make your book review work for you!

1. Add Reviews to Your Book Cover

Don't include excerpts from friends on the back of your books, because readers are likely to surmise that you couldn’t find anyone else to vouch for your book. Professional reviews are far more effective here. Post excerpts from these reviews on the front or back of your book cover.

2. Include Book Reviews On Your Author Website

Your author website should have a tab at the top of the site labeled “Book Reviews” that takes readers to excerpts or links to full reviews. The more professional reviews you post there, the more seriously readers will take your book.

3. Use Book Reviews on Social Media

Professional reviews are great fodder for social media. Posting your review on your Facebook page, for example, gives you another way to remind your FaceBook friends that you have a new book out there. Write a teaser, such as: “Just got a great book review from XXX. They praised my ‘vivid scene building and relatable characters’!”; then include a link to the full review. Do the same on Twitter and other platforms.

4. Include Book Reviews In Press Releases

When contacting bloggers, mainstream press, bookstores and librarians about your book, it’s useful to send a press release about your title, which informs them about you and your book at a glance. A compelling excerpt from a professional review at the top of the press release will draw them in. And if you have many glowing reviews, attach a separate page to the press release with a full list of impressive excerpts.

5. Use Reviews on Marketing Materials

Use an excerpt from a positive review on postcards to announce book signings, bookmarks, informational sheets, shelf talkers, and other marketing materials.

6. Use Book Reviews to Get More Reviews

One great review is awesome. Three or four are better. Use your first review to entice other reviewers, as in: “My book just received a rave review from XXX, which called me ‘the Ernest Hemingway for the millennial generation.’ Can I send you a copy for review?” You are much more likely to pique a reviewer’s interest if you already have a glowing review. It assures them that your book will be worth their time and attention.

7. Use Reviews to Approach Booksellers and Librarians

Booksellers and librarians are busy people. They can’t possibly read every book that comes across their desks. Instead, they rely on reviews to help them find great books for their patrons. If you are asking booksellers and librarians to stock your book, positive professional reviews will impress them far more than you personally describing your book at length and telling them all your friends and family loved it. (And here’s a bonus tip: Avoid the latter at all costs; this will immediately peg you as an amateur.)

8. Include Book Reviews in the Editorial Sections of Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Both Amazon and B&N sites have designated spots for professional reviews near the top, separate from reviews written by consumers. Readers know immediately that they come from unbiased sources and carry more weight than consumer reviews.

9. Update Your Book Metadata

If you get a good review, there's a place for you to add it to your book metadata in your IngramSpark title record. While reviews aren't required pieces of metadata, they are definitely helpful in advertising your book online to retailers, librarians, and readers.

10. Use Reviews to Boost Your Confidence

Authors often tell us a positive review helped them gain confidence they had previously lacked. Writing is, by nature, a solitary endeavor. It’s easy to let self-doubt creep in. A positive review from a professional source provides wonderful validation of your hard work and can give you the confidence to submit your book to contests and promote it elsewhere with vigor.

11. Use Reviews to Improve Your Work

If your review wasn’t as positive as you’d hoped, don’t despair. It’s never a waste of time to receive objective feedback from professionals. Set the review aside while you process your disappointment. Then read it again as dispassionately as possible and consider the reviewer’s points. They can be of great value, giving you important guidance as you revise your work or start new writing projects.


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Patti Thorn

Patti Thorn is a Managing Partner at BlueInk Review, a fee-based book review service devoted to self-published titles exclusively. For more news, writing tips, and book marketing help, you can sign up for BlueInk Review's mailing list.