By David Wogahn on The Book Designer:
The challenge for self-publishers, especially new authors who have small or nonexistent networks, is to convince readers to add one more title to their to-be-read pile. Unfortunately, most self-publishers do not (yet) have a reputation that confers credibility upon their books. That’s where book reviews can help; they contribute credibility and raise awareness in four distinct ways:
Customer reviews encourage shoppers to learn more. Reader reviews are a social signal, much like a full parking lot or a line in a store are signals of something worth paying attention to (and paying for). The importance of customer reviews has increased as more books are sold online. Having numerous outstanding customer reviews on a retailer’s website acts as a positive social signal to readers, encouraging them to buy the book.
Quotes add gravitas. Editorial reviews—written by those assumed to be professionals—play a different role. These are often used in the book or in sales materials and still matter to certain audiences, especially trade audiences such as book retailers and librarians. Positive editorial reviews can help a book get into the hands of these gatekeepers, but self-publishers need to be careful. Small Press United points out that one of their reasons for declining publishers is that the
“Quotes used on the front and/or back covers are not from people with impressive credentials.”
In other words, the source for your quote(s) should be credible to the audience you are marketing to or the review may result in the opposite effect to what is desired—or simply be ignored.
Reviews are marketing. It is not uncommon for the media to contact authors after seeing a review posted online or finding it in an online search. David Meerman Scott used his review of a Bob Marley CD to say he had taken photos of Marley’s last concert. The producers of the documentary Marley found that review and contacted Scott, who shared his photos and received a film credit.
Reviews provide validation to third parties. It is common for promotional sites such as BookBub to have minimum review requirements before considering a book for promotion—both in number and average stars. Having great reviews in spades will help your book be accepted for promotional opportunities it might not otherwise qualify for.
Bottom line: numerous (positive) reviews help your book
sell more copies
be seen more favorably
get more promotional opportunities