*editor's note: This is Andrew's opinion. He's entitled to it. I'm of the same mind. A lot of reviewers come to the table from the other side of it and say reviews are for other readers and they don't care about the business side of it or the author's side of it (and this shows in the way they write reviews). I've never approached my reviewing platform this way. I write reviews to support the industry I love. It's my main priority to help authors be successful so that they can afford to write books (For me. For us). This is also why I hang out in the horror genre-it's what I love the most and I want to see it blow up. I love that other reviewers feel the same way. -Sadie Hartmann
Feed an author, write a review...by Andrew Fowlow @TheBookDad
So here's the deal. There is a large community of readers that review books. We do it because we love to read and we want to share our experiences with other like-minded bibliophiles. I'm here to tell all of you readers and reviewers that your words are powerful! It is extremely important for you to talk about your journey as a reader. According to an article by Forbes, "There are somewhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published every year in the US alone…" It is incredibly hard for authors to make money in a market that saturated. We need to make sure their writing gets noticed so that they keep crafting the amazing work we love so much. There are times when I hear readers talk about reviews and I hear lots of statements. "I only write a review if I really liked the book" or "I didn't like it so I didn't bother with a review." I'm here to tell you why you NEED to write a review good or bad. If you ask me, it's our duty as readers to do whatever we can for the writing community. So, if you're wondering what are some things you can do as a reviewer, I've got you covered.
This might be the most obvious thing but when we as readers write a review, we preach on social media. This is a powerful marketing tool for authors and publishers. Goodreads, BookTube, Bookstagram, and well, Facebook are platforms that have the capability to reach a vast audience of readers. So when you read something, talk about it everywhere. Treat social media like a book club and engage with others about everything you liked and/or disliked about the characters, the writing style, setting, prose, etc. I suggest you leave out spoilers because that pretty much goes against what we want to achieve, don't deter potential readers. Another interesting point to mention about reviewers on social media is that their followers are the target audience. The platforms mentioned are communities of readers that will buy books. I quite literally cannot get my spending under control. I'm constantly looking at book recommendations and can't help myself. It's said that people spend on average two and a half hours a day on social media. That means people on those platforms spend that time discussing books. These are meaningful discussions that help authors sell their work. There's also one other space you might not have discovered yet that I highly recommend which is Goodreads groups. I'm in a couple ranging from fifty members to SIXTEEN THOUSAND. Again, these groups are engaging, friendly, and discuss books. One last thing you can do as a reviewer is to get social. LIKE, SHARE and COMMENT to get the social algorithms working on all the posts that promote authors and their work. This helps a review get traction from other people and increases the engagement. Join the community and have fun doing it.
Search Engine Optimization
When I write a review, I often talk about the author, the book title, the genre, etc. These are all search engine optimization (SEO) keywords The more people that use these keywords in a review the higher the book ranks in search engines like the almighty google. The goal is to have the author's book populate in search engines when they search those keywords. I never really considered this much until I had a short discussion with Michael Clark. If you don't know who he is, he is an author who does a fantastic job of marketing his work. In fact, he is well known in the reviewer community because he gets his books in the hands of every reviewer he can. After reading his book I let him be aware where my review would be found and he asked why I wasn't posting the review to my personal blog. I realize now why he was asking. I might not have an audience on my personal blog BUT my review helps his SEO ranking. For example, if a potential reader wants to find Clark's books and they search Michael Clark, he doesn't want people to find Michael Clark obituary or Michael Clark attorney at law. He wants the first result to be Michael Clark books. After the epiphany, I revisited my blog and got posting reviews immediately. Something else you can do to increase a book's SEO is to guest post on other blogs. I currently write for three other book blogs where I post reviews and other bookish content. This has been extremely rewarding for me as a reviewer. I've made some pretty amazing friendships, improved my writing abilities and also found myself having better reading experiences.
Listen, I am not a fan of Amazon. They are a corporate giant that does not need your money, local bookstores desperately need your business. There are so many ways to obtain books from indie bookstores even if you want to make purchases from the comfort of your home. Libro.FM, Bookshop.org, and Bookstore Link are a few ways to do that and I will leave info at the bottom of the article so you can check them out. Now, in saying that Amazon is the largest bookstore in the world and so a review here is pivotal to a book's success. Amazon is a search engine so the rules of SEO apply here as well. We want a book to be seen and your review contains keywords to assist in Amazon SEO. A review grade is also important in improving the book's SEO on Amazon. Essentially, an author wants more reviews than books sold so they increase their review grade. For example, a book might have sold twenty copies but has zero reviews making the review grade zero out of five BUT if a book has 20 reviews and zero sales the review grade might be five out of five which increases SEO in Amazon. Another important factor is advanced reader copies (ARC). Reviewers will often be asked by authors and publishers to read a book in advance in exchange for an HONEST and FAIR review. Reviewers please do not compromise your integrity, be honest at all times because as mentioned before reviews good or bad help the book is seen. That does not mean you can have a free-for-all and attack an author, just speak to the reading experience and move on. ARC's help an author increase that review grade and also encourage presales which is another means of improving Amazon SEO. THIS ONLY WORKS IF THE READER LEAVES A REVIEW. I cannot stress this enough. If you receive a book by an author or publisher, it does not mean you get to blast it on social media and call it a day. No, you need to leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. You might be thinking, "I didn't buy the book on Amazon so how can I leave a review." Well, Amazon will allow you to leave a review regardless. Just search for the book and click the "write a review" button. The only problem is that Amazon will not let you leave a review before the publication date so you may need to set a reminder to do that. Please, don't forget that as a reviewer you have a duty to help the writing community and it's as easy as writing a few words about the book. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy.
Trust me when I say, I am not the best reviewer I can be but I promise to do more from what I've learned. I believe that I owe it to all the wonderful creators that put the time and effort into writing. They do it because they are passionate about the craft and I'm forever grateful for that. The time and effort we set aside as reviewers is a small price to pay for the endless hours of entertainment an author provides. Here is my pledge: I will continue to read voraciously, write reviews and share my experiences with all those who will listen. I will make it my duty to assist the writing community by any means necessary because I don't want to imagine a world without literary escape. This is my solemn vow.
Bookshop is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.
Libro.fm is the first audiobook company to make it possible for you to buy audiobooks directly through the independent bookstore of your choosing.
Bookstore Link connects you directly to your local bookstore’s online store.