Book reviews are one of many marketing tools available to authors and publishers. A glowing review from a recognized source can really work wonders for your book’s reputation, while a well-circulated negative review can just about ruin your chances of success. But regardless of whether a review is positive, negative, or somewhere in between, there are several ways you as an author can utilize them to maximum benefit.
We’ll start with good reviews: the kind everybody wants, but not everybody gets (or deserves). These kinds of reviews are obviously the easiest to use to your advantage. just spread the word about them as far and wide as you can, paste quotes of it with proper citation on all the pages where your book is for sale, and let the words of praise from a complete stranger buoy you up and inspire you to keep creating new work so as to earn that praise again.
The only downsides of positive reviews for an author are that they’re not always easy to get, and of course, they don’t help you improve your craft. If all you ever hear about is what you did right, you’ll never find the spots where you could do better, and thus make your next book even better. Of course, maybe you really did do everything right, in which case, bully for you!
Then there are the negative reviews, the ones nobody wants, but which can be useful in their own way. While you may not want to go around bragging to everyone how much somebody thought your book sucked, you can nevertheless decide to heed any useful advice they may give. If it’s simply a review stating how awful your work is without any qualifier, then it’s not very helpful and can be ignored. However, if reasons are given for the complaints, and those reasons seem valid, then you may want to take the advice to heart and really work hard on your next project so that it doesn’t warrant the same treatment.
Finally, there are mixed reviews. These constitute the majority of book reviews, and can range anywhere from mostly negative to mostly positive. These are in many ways the best. While some of the critical remarks can sting, there are nevertheless some uplifting remarks to lessen the blow. And while you can certainly quote the more positive aspects of the review for the sake of selling you book, you can also analyze the criticisms to see if perhaps there are areas where you still need to improve so that on your next project, you can earn that much coveted glowing review.
Now, how important are reviews really when it comes to making sales? Well, it depends how widespread they are and how authoritative the source. A positive review that never gets seen by anyone is going to have much less impact than a negative one that gets presented to everyone. The fact is, people do like to hear the opinions of others on a product when available to help them decide whether to make a purchase or not. Other people couldn’t care less what others think, and will buy or not based on other factors such as name recognition or even just a well-designed cover.
So, in conclusion, while reviews can be a useful tool, they are probably not the most important. There are plenty of other ways to market and advertise, and which ones you choose should be based as much as possible on your genre and audience. A book review probably isn’t going to be of much interest to readers of kids’ books, for instance (and rarely to the parents either, really). So don’t let one bad review keep you down. Just pick yourself up, glean any useful advice you can from it, and aim to do better next time.