Using Social Proof to Sell More Books

Monday, November 19, 2018

We are social creatures. As humans, we are influenced by others. The choices others make influence our own decisions, and it's no different when it comes to book sales either.

This powerful force—called Social Proof—is important for authors to be aware of and use. Evidence that other people have purchased and found value in your book is social proof. People are more likely to purchase a book that others are already buying, which makes social proof an influential selling tool. As an author you can use social proof in the following three ways to help you sell more books.


An endorsement by an expert, a celebrity, or a person of influence is social proof that important people find your book worthwhile. Securing endorsements for your book demonstrates to potential readers that your book is worth their money and time.

Often independent authors don’t take the time and effort to secure endorsements. Yet, endorsements help you sell more books. Most best-selling books sport endorsements because publishers know that endorsements are social proof that a book is worthy of readers’ attention.

Book Reviews

Positive reviews by readers is another form of social proof. When current users of a product or service praise it, individuals tend to trust the recommendation over the business telling them how great they are. Consumers trust other consumers more than they trust a brand because the brand is obviously bias. In addition, others can feel left out and want to have the same positive experience other users are having, which is why business reviews on Yelp and Facebook are so popular.

People do consult reviews before they make a purchase decision. In fact, according to a 2017 study by Spiegel Research Center, nearly 95% of shoppers read reviews before making a purchase. The power of this social proof increases as the number of positive reviews increase. That same study by Spiegel found that having at least five positive reviews increased people’s purchase likelihood by a factor of four.

Secure reviews for your book. Ask your friends, members of your writing community, and your followers on social media to write a review of your book. One study by Goodreads found that 84% of authors who asked for reviews saw an increase in the number of reviews they received on their book. So ask, and you shall receive!

Aside from reader book reviews, there are also professional book reviews. You can follow the guidelines of your book review of choice and submit your book for random selection, or indie authors can pay for professional book reviews. Either way, professional book reviews are used by bookstores and libraries to help inform their purchasing decisions, so if you decide to go the professional book review route, be sure you include your positive review in your book marketing materials to stores and libraries.


A stamp or seal of approval by an authority in an industry is another form of social proof. Think about the Academy Awards. Any movie that wins an Academy Award receives a seal of approval that raises the movie’s esteem in the eyes of the viewing public. The same is true for book awards.

Winning a book award is a form of social proof. Of course, you can’t win a book award unless you nominate your book for an award and are selected. So, consider taking the time and money to enter worthwhile book award contests. A win could boost the social proof for your book and result in more book sales.


How to Build an Author Platform

Sarah Bolme

Sarah Bolme is the Director of Christian Indie Publishers Association. Through this organization Sarah provides assistance to small publishers and independently published authors marketing books to the Christian marketplace. Sarah is also the author of the award-winning book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace. The fourth edition will be released in February 2019.