How to Get More Book Reviews

By Scott Lorenz

Westwind Communications

As a book publicist I’ve read a few thousand book reviews and have written a few dozen myself.  I have a pretty good Write a Review Luliidea about how to write a book review that is helpful to potential readers and buyers of a book. Authors have a difficult time getting people to write a review because their fan base of readers don’t have time or most likely don’t know how to write a review. So, here it is. Hand this to anybody who says, ‘I just don’t know how to write a review.’

Before you pick up a pen, ask yourself these questions:

  • How did the story affect you?
  • Did it make you laugh, cry?
  • Did it affect the way you think about family, spouse, or life in general?
  • Would you recommend it to others?
  • Would you by it as a gift for events such as graduations, birthdays, etc?

 

Here’s What Makes A Good Book Review:

 

  1. In general, you are trying to help someone determine if they should buy the book. “It needs to give a clear reason for someone to want to read or avoid the book in question. Narrowing the potential audience is also helpful,” says Ross Rojek, editor and publisher of the San Francisco Book Review.

 

  1. Talk about your impression of the book. “For fiction reviews, brief plot summaries. You don’t need details about every character and every event. For non-fiction, say what the book’s premise is and whether it fulfills that,” says Debra Englander, former acquisitions editor for Wiley Books.

 

  1. Include qualifications or relevant background about the author. “Include information about author – reputation, qualifications, etc, — anything relevant to the book and the author’s authority,” says Bill Asenjo, award-winning freelance writer. For example, a lawyer should be able to write a good courtroom thriller, but not a book on sewing.

 

  1. Provide a short example from the book. “One good phrase or sentence that encapsulates the book is easy to promote,” Rojek explains. “Be mindful not to give away the ending!”

 

  1. Who should buy this book? “Do compare similar products,” Amazon’s tips on writing reviews states. For example, “If you liked Harry Potter you’ll love this book” or, “If you are into current news events, this book is for you! It’s perfect for middle school children and older.”

 

  1. Talk about what kind of reader this book is for. “Summarize some of your thoughts on the book by suggesting the type of reader you’d recommend the book to,” children’s author Luisa Plaja told BookTrust. If this is a great gift book for the recent college graduate or pregnant Moms then say so!

 

  1. Did the book live up to expectations? Does it deliver on the title? If the book title is “How to Build a House?” Does it in fact tell you how to do it? “Describe what the book does well and what it does poorly (and why), but it should also explain who would value the book,” said Dr. Eric Russell, book reviewer and English Language and Literature professor.

 

  1. Be sure to create a snappy title for your review. Perhaps one with a key word that would help someone find your review about the book. Using the house theme again:  “If You Want to Build A House, THIS Book with Tell You How!”

 

  1. Add the stars on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being great. “A five-star review should be for a book that has everything: good writing, good-editing, and a story that makes you want to read it again and tell your friends about,” Neal Wooten, author and managing editor of Mirror Publishing, advises in his article on HuffPost.

 

What Not To Do:

 

  1. “Be honest, but not overly critical,” Englander warns, “If a reviewer is especially nasty, readers wonder if he/she had a personal agenda.”

 

  1. Don’t lose focus on what you’re reviewing. “Review the book you read – not the book you wish the author had written,” Asenjo cautions.

 

  1. Don’t describe your seller or shipping experience,” Amazon urges. Don’t comment on the fact it arrived late or the book was damaged. The author has no control over that and nobody cares.

 

  1. Don’t review books by your friends or enemies,” suggests Rebecca Skloot, a previous vice president of National Book Critics Circle. Doing this doesn’t provide you any real practice on writing a review and doesn’t help anyone. Keep your intentions as a reviewer in check.

 

  1. Don’t use a book review as an excuse to show off your writerly voice,” recommends Ann Finkbeiner of The Open Notebook, board of directors and regular reviewer for The New York Times Book Review and The Wall Street Journal. A review’s purpose is to evaluate a piece of text and create discussion with other readers. If you want to showcase your writing ability, start a blog.

Bottom line: Authors, want reviews? Ask your readers to write one! Readers, don’t know how to review? Follow the guidelines above to ensure the creation of a helpful review for future readers!

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at http://www.book-marketing-expert.com  or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or by phone at 734-667-2090. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist

How Authors Can Use NetGalley For Ultimate Book Marketing

NetGalley For Ultimate Book Marketing

Using NetGalley for Book Promotion featured in PR Toolkit in Small Business PR

by Scott Lorenz, President, Westwind Communications Book Marketing

Word of mouth sells books.

Unfortunately, one of the most difficult things to do is to get people to read and review your book to help get the buzz going. As an author, how would you like to get your book into the eager hands of reviewers, bloggers, members of the media, librarians, booksellers, and educators before it was published? Ever wonder how some books have 50 reviews the day of publishing? Want to know the tricks of the trade? One way is through NetGalley and their 300,000 readers.

Corrin Foster of Greenleaf Book Group says that their publishing firm uses NetGalley for nearly every title that they publish as a way to reach active and influential reviewers. “The NetGalley community is fair and transparent with their reviews, responsive to collaboration, and an invaluable resource for generating early reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, blogs, and social media which carry a lot of weight with general consumers. We value our relationship with NetGalley and their members very highly,” says Foster.

Read More>>>> How Authors Can Use NetGalley to Promote Their Book

http://bit.ly/1LEmj5V

Authors: Crowd Source Your Next Book Critique- New Service Does the Work

Image

I recently contacted several Amazon and GoodReads reviewers to obtain a blurb for the cover of a new book in a series. Most of the reviews were very complimentary but then I got one back that stopped me in my tracks. In that email the reviewer pointed out some flaws in both the writing and the cover. There was inconsistency in what the writer said and what the cover designer selected. Furthermore the reviewer pointed out that a couple of the characters were ‘formulaic’ and ‘underdeveloped.’ She mentioned a few other things but you get the point. And so did the writer, who thanked me and the reviewer for taking time to point out these flaws and gladly made the changes…before it was published.

The point? Imagine if you could get not one, not five but 50 people to read your book before it was published and give you some feedback? Would you want that? I know that most writers would jump at the opportunity.

Well, there is a new service offered by my friend Clark Covington that offers in effect a ‘crowd sourcing’ critique of your manuscript.

The service called ‘Collective Intel’ doesn’t shield you from the feedback, they encourage you to embrace it, and use it to get better. The service uses a simple equation to create the Collective Intel book score.

Here’s how it works: They’ll have 50 people read your book cover-to-cover. Who are these people? They are avid readers of books. Some are highly qualified editors, English Majors, proofers and even authors. They love to read books and they know a good one when they see one.

Then, they have each person fill out a ten question survey ranking satisfaction of each question. For example, on a scale of 1-10 how would you rate the rate the way the author wrote about the setting in the book? On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate the relatable nature of the characters in the book, 1 for you couldn’t understand who they were, and 10 for feeling like you’ve known them all your life?

Then they take your total score (out of 500) and divide it by 50 to get your mean book score, or Collective Intel score. You are then given a total score, and a breakdown of your scores by each question so you can see how you are performing in each area pertinent to being a great writer, like setting, plot, tempo, etc. If you have a collective intel overall score of a 9, you probably have a bestseller on your hands. Conversely if you’re a 3, it might be time to get back to the drawing board. This data is awesome for so many reasons, because it helps you break down what you do well, and what you need to work on, which as I’ve illustrated above is often totally out of sight to hardworking writers.

In addition to creating collective and Question-by-Question mean scores for your book, they also provide you with each survey individually, and the notes from each reviewer on what they liked and what they didn’t when it came to your book, and most importantly what they want you to work on.

Think of this service as the ultimate focus group, a way to get honest feedback on your book, learn to be a better writer, and understand your audience better.

Let’s face it, if you have your friends, family and workplace acquaintances read and comment on your book, are you really going to get the feedback you need to create a best-selling well rounded book? I don’t think so. That’s why this service sounds like it could really be a useful tool for all authors.

Learn more and sign up here

Authors: Rename Your Book For a Second Life

Throughout the ages books have been renamed, given a new copyright date as a result, and found new life and success.

There are several reasons to rename a book such as adding a subtitle to be friendlier to search engines. Another important reason is to get a new copyright Stack of Booksdate because many book critics will not review an old book and reviewers often define an “old” book as one with a copyright of more than a year old.

Margaret Mitchell first gave the title “Pansy,” the original name for Scarlett O’Hara, to her epic novel. That title was dropped as soon as MacMillan convinced Mitchell to rename her main character. She then considered the titles of “Tote the Weary Load” and “Tomorrow is Another Day,” the latter being taken from the last line in her novel. When MacMillan objected to these two titles, Mitchell reconsidered and suggested “Gone With The Wind.”

Sometimes just a minor tweak in the title will pay off big, such as “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone” being renamed “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” “Philosopher’s Stone” was the first novel in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling when it was first published in London in 1997. The next year it was republished in America with the “Sorcerer’s Stone” change made in the title and it reached the New York Time’s best-selling fiction list in August 1999.

Other examples of books that were re-titled include:
• “The Last Man in Europe” to “1984”
• “The Dead Un-Dead” to “Dracula”
• “Catch 18” and “Catch 11” to “Catch 22”
• “Atticus” to “To Kill a Mockingbird”
• “First Impressions” to “Pride and Prejudice”
• “Fiesta” to “The Sun Also Rises”
• “Strike” to “Atlas Shrugged”
• “Mistress Mary” to “The Secret Garden”

I think you get the point. Tanya Hall of Greenleaf Book Group (www.greenleafbookgroup.com) tells of the renaming of a book that made a big difference for Greenleaf: “Gregg Crawford approached us seeking distribution services for his book, ‘Execute or Be Executed’, originally published in 2006,” says Tanya. “We saw potential in the book but it definitely needed to be repackaged and re-titled to stand out in the crowded business genre. Gregg agreed to our suggestions, and the end result was ‘The Last Link: Closing the Gap That is Sabotaging Your Business’ which was published in March, 2007 by Greenleaf Book Group Press and became our first New York Times bestseller.”

Many of the authors with whom I work do not subtitle their book which is a big mistake. A subtitle allows for a book title to contain more searchable terms which, in this day of search engine optimization, is a major consideration. Remember that people use Google, Bing and Yahoo! to search for information they need immediately – help that fills their needs, wants and desires. You want to be their Answer.

Authors should always be open to suggestions made by editors and publishers. You may love your title but the publishing company that makes millions of dollars each year selling books knows a lot more about titles that sell than you do.

So be ready to rename your book if that new title will attract more readers and sell more books. If in doubt, ask Margaret Mitchell, or J.K. Rowling, or Ernest Hemingway, or George Orwell or ….. Want to rename your book? Bounce an idea off me at: scottlorenz@westwindcos.com.