Analyzing the Behavior of Book Buyers Part 3 – Reviews

In Part 1 of this series, I examined how book buyers find your page.  In Part 2, I wrote about the first thing they look at on your page.

At this point, the potential customer has found your book and, after reading the description, is intrigued.  You’re home free, right?  Wrong.

Next comes the dreaded reading of the reviews.  Some browsers will read a bunch of comments; other only a few.  You can be sure, though, that they’ll all look at the top rated one for the “Most Helpful Customer Reviews” and that they’re all looking for the following:

  • Assurance that someone out there has actually bought and read your book.
  • Assurance that the book isn’t total crap.
  • Highly individual criteria.

We can’t control that a potential buyer might read something innocuous in a review that makes him click away.  There’s no accounting for taste, and you have to write the book you want.  The fact is that you’re not going to convert every browser into a buyer.   There are, however, some things that you can do:

  • Make sure you have reviews for the potential buyer to read
  • Make sure that these reviews say positive things
  • Make sure that the top Most Helpful Customer Review is awesome

I can hear you shouting at the computer: “I will not write fake reviews!  I have no control over the reviews!  I can’t even get reviews!”  Calm down.  First of all, I can’t really hear you, so screaming doesn’t really accomplish anything other than making your coworkers look at you funny.  Second, give me a chance to explain:

  • You can get reviews.  It takes a lot of time and work, but it can be done.  Pick a goal of how many reviews you want.  Send 10 emails a day to Amazon reviewers, book bloggers, people on forums, and anyone who has ever “liked” your blog until you get commitments for the number you want plus at least 25% (some of those “commitments” will fall through).  With luck, one out of every ten emails might result in a “yes.”
  • You do have some control over the reviews.  If you want them to say your book is good, WRITE A GOOD BOOK!  Most reviewers, especially ones you’ve contacted personally, don’t want to say bad things about your work.  If you give them half a chance, they’ll mostly concentrate on the positive.  Make sure there are positive things for them to say.  If you’re getting only bad reviews, consider the possibility that your book wasn’t ready for publication.
  • I agree that it’s unethical to post fake reviews.  I do not plan to use that method, and I do not advocate you doing it either.  On the other hand, I don’t mind gaming the system a little.  If you get enough reviews, you’ll hopefully find one that you really like.  It will be detailed, say fantastic things about the book and about your writing ability, and mention some minor negatives.  Once you get that review, tell all your friends, family, and fans to click “Yes” to the question, “Was this review helpful to you?”  That will move the review to the top of the list, and enough votes will keep it there.

Final thoughts on reviews:

  • You’re going to get some bad reviews.  Don’t sweat them too much.  Not everyone has the same tastes as you, and that’s okay.
  • The best reviews tell potential buyers both what the reviewer liked and disliked about the book.
  • A five-star review that says, “This book is AWSUM!!!” and a one-star review that says, “I hated the title so I didn’t read it.” or “This bok sux!” aren’t going to impact your sales or reputation much.

Tune in next Wednesday for Part 4 – Your Sample Is Crucial.

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4 thoughts on “Analyzing the Behavior of Book Buyers Part 3 – Reviews

  1. Pingback: Analyzing the Behavior of Book Buyers Part 4 – The Sample | brianwfoster.com

  2. Reblogged this on Self-Publish 101 and commented:
    Next comes the dreaded reading of the reviews. Some browsers will read a bunch of comments; other only a few. You can be sure, though, that they’ll all look at the top rated one for the “Most Helpful Customer Reviews” and that they’re all looking for the following:

    Assurance that someone out there has actually bought and read your book.
    Assurance that the book isn’t total crap.
    Highly individual criteria.

  3. Pingback: Analyzing the Behavior of Book Buyers Pt 5 – Price | brianwfoster.com

  4. Pingback: How to Become a Successful Author | brianwfoster.com

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