January 19 , 2017

The Importance of Reviews

A couple of years ago, I did a study of the impact of reviews on our book sales. It turned out that books with at least one review -- even a bad one -- sold significantly better than books with no reviews at all. There was a strong correlation between the number of reviews and the number of sales. Obviously, some of this is cart-before-the-horse logic --- maybe the better selling books had more reviews because more books were sold! Yes -- this is also true -- but it was evident that advance reviews had a significant impact on future sales. They also open the door to more opportunities on the retail sites.
To that end, thanks to the work of author Sherry Knowlton, we have been experimenting with additional avenues for reviews. As you might know, in the past we were all about speed-to-market --- damn the torpedoes and reviews -- and just get the book on the market! We found nonfiction sold very well with this process, but fiction suffered. In order to enhance the prospects of our fiction catalog, it was necessary to build some advance planning into the schedule. This opened doors for some of the larger review sites we were ignoring because they disqualified us due to our fast pace. In other words, they only accept galleys months in advance of release. In the past, we didn't work that way. Now, we are giving in a bit and getting on board.
First up is Kirkus. You might know Kirkus wants $425 to $575 from you for each title just to read your galley and write a short blurb about your book -- positive or negative. As a trade publisher, we are able to access this service at no cost to you. At first, we will be selective about the titles we send to them. We'll keep you abreast of our progress.
Similarly for Publisher's Weekly, the leading magazine in the industry. Each issue is chock full of book reviews. We now have the lead time to participate in their galley process and will be testing this with a few titles. Normally, this costs $149 for each title for independent authors. Again, there is no cost to you, the author.
So, all told, we are investing a lot more effort into getting our titles reviewed up front. This would cost you, as an independent author, over $1200 per title to access these services. We believe this is one of the keys to growing unit sales for our upcoming releases. Let's do it!