I'm loving the topic this week of "Reviews: Are they worth it?" Mostly because I keep hearing Missy Elliot, and now I want to put my thing down, flip it, and reverse it. (I'm sure if I did, I'd pull my back and break my hip.)
As readers, it likely comes as no surprise that authors are under pressure to amass reviews on leading retail sites and in reader communities (eg, Reddit and Goodreads). Whether it's in hopes of improving our odds at being discovered through word-of-mouth or triggering algorithms to have our book(s) surface at the top of search results, we're all eager to make that next sale. Our great fear is that someone will happen across our book, see it has no reviews, assume it's horribly written, thus not buy it.
Of course, our worst nightmare is that we'll get reviews, but they're mostly negative.
That's enough to send us rocking in the corner, sucking our thumbs.
It is too easy to lose sight of reviews being a marketing tool. Marketing not Sales. Big difference. Marketing = Spaghetti Against the Wall. Sales = Revenue. Marketing trends are ever-changing. The current fad is reader-reviews (ten years ago, the trend was blogging). There are many authors who give away their book for free trying to hit a magical and moving target number of reviews that the elusive "they" have defined as being effective. Note: It's a different goal from those authors who list "first in series free" in hopes of enticing new readers to pay full price for the rest of the books in the series. Still marketing, but repeat customer is the goal there not reviews (though reviews are still nice).
Bless the readers who post reviews. We love you. Really.
So, to the question of the week, "are reviews worth it;" the answer is "depends on the size of the ulcer you're giving yourself trying to gather them." It's okay to ask for reviews, just don't let it become your primary marketing message. Put a "please review" reminder at the end of your book, put it in your newsletter as a footnote, post it monthly-ish on your social media feeds. However, never lose sight of SALES being your primary goal.
As many of us have said over the eight years this blog has been around, the best thing you can do to drive sales is Write the Next Book. Building your backlist is like stocking your store with inventory. The more items you have available, the more opportunity you have to make money.