Excerpted (and adapted) from Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.
Authors rarely get the most of their reviews. Surprised? I think it’s either that they are so excited about the review or that the idea of extending a review’s value doesn’t occur to them. Or it’s because so many reviews these days come from readers. They aren’t professionals, so they have no idea how to distribute content beyond posting their review on Amazon.
One of the ways they can get more mileage from their reviews is to get them reprinted in more venues than the reviewer ever planned. Or you do it for them. And, no, it isn’t stealing or plagiarism if you get permission from the reviewer first. In fact, it can benefit the reviewer.
When you get further distribute reviews you already have, it’s like getting a little marketing bonus. Here’s how to do that:
If your reviewer doesn’t normally write reviews (these reviewers are often called reader reviewers), suggest she send her review or the link to her review to her friends as a recommendation.
If your reviewer lives in a town with a small daily or weekly newspaper, she could send her review to them. She may realize the thrill of being published the first time.
Ask your reviewer—even one who writes for a review journal—to post her review on Amazon.com, BN.com, and other online booksellers that have reader-review features. I have never had a reviewer decline my suggestion. It is ethical for a reviewer to do it or give you permission to reuse the review as long as she holds the copyright for the review. (Most reviewers do not sign copyright-limiting agreements with the medium who hires them.) Get more information on Amazon’s often misrepresented review policies in Chapter Eleven, “Managing Your Amazon Reviews.”
After you have permission from the reviewer to reprint the review, post it on your blog, on your Web site, and in your newsletter. Use quotations from the reviews to give credibility to selected media releases and queries.
Once you have permission to use reviews, send copies of good ones to bookstore buyers and event directors as part of your campaign to do book signings, to speak, or do workshops in their stores. Go to http://www.midwestbookreview.com/links/bookstor.htm for a starter list of bookstores.
Send quotations (blurbs) from the reviews you get to librarians, especially the ones in your home town or cities you plan to visit during book tours. Include order information. Try Midwest for a list of libraries.
Use snippets from positive reviews as blurbs in everything from your stationery to your blog. (Use your e-reader’s find function to search for other ideas for using your blurbs in this book.)
If your reviewer doesn’t respond to your request to post the review on Amazon, excerpt blurbs from them and post them on your Amazon buy page using Amazon’s Author Connect or Author Central features. They will appear on your Amazon sales page.
Include the crème de la crème of your reviews on the Praise Page of your media kit and inside the front cover of the next edition (perhaps a mass market edition like the pocket paperbacks sold in grocery stores?). See my multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter for the complete—and I do mean complete—lowdown on media kits.
Hint: Occasionally authors get reviews on Amazon that, shall we say…don’t thrill them. Reviews like that can be minimized by asking others for reviews. As new reviews are added, the old ones tend to get buried in the lineup of reviews. We can also (pleasantly!) refute a position a reviewer takes using the comment feature—or thank them for bringing something to our attention. We can also dispute their validity with Amazon, though that rarely works.
You can use some of these suggestions as part of your keeping-in-communication-with-reviewers effort after her review has been published.
Contributor Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning novelist, poet, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. She taught editing and marketing classes at UCLA Extension’s world-renowned Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and carefully chooses one novel she believes in a year to edit. The Frugal Editor award-winner as well as the winner of Reader View’s Literary Award in the publishing category. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and the coveted Irwin award. She appears in commercials for the likes of Blue Shield, Disney Cruises (Japan), and Time-Life CDs and is a popular speaker at writers’ conferences.
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