Thinking of writing book reviews? Do it!

The online writing community is amazing. Authors at every stage of writing their manuscripts come together, encourage, and empower each other. It’s probably the only online community I’ve ever been a part of where people are so willing to help others. So, when I see so many aspiring writers asking whether or not they should start an online review of books, I thought I would offer my two cents based on my background in marketing.

If you’re not interested in reading my whole article and simply want to know whether or not you should write book reviews for your own website, my answer in a word is: yes. However, if you’re interested in learning more about how writing book reviews can help your own book marketing, keep reading.

What’s keeping you from writing reviews?

As I mentioned prior, I’ve seen a lot of people ask whether or not it’s a good idea to write book reviews. I completely understand your hesitation. Here are a few of the reasons I doubted whether or not I should write reviews.

  • It’s a waste of time
    • When I started my writing career, the thought of writing reviews didn’t even cross my mind. After all, I’m trying to write my own books and as a father, husband, and tax-paying citizen with a full-time job, my time is precious. Why should I use what little time I have to write reviews for others when I could be spending it writing my book?
  • There are already a lot of book reviewers out there
    • This is true. The literary world has a lot of professional and recreational book reviewers and bloggers and together they review the thousands of new releases that come out each year. What kind of influence could I possibly have on such a saturated market?
  • I’m not a fast reader
    • It has always astonished me how some people can read an entire book in a day. That’s one skill I’ve never possessed. Being a slow reader isn’t a bad thing, but professional book reviewers seem to pump out a dozen new reviews each week. How can I keep up with that?

Does any of this sound familiar? It’s okay! Believe it or not, keeping up with the professionals or getting lost in a sea of other voices isn’t important. I’m going to teach you how writing reviews will actually help you sell more books.

They increase traffic to your website

This is kind of obvious, right? You write a review, post it on Twitter, Facebook, or your social media venue of choice and anyone who clicks on it goes to your website. Simple, right?

If you’re not savvy in marketing, you may wonder why it would be important for your social media followers to go to consistently visit your website. Well, if you’ve written a review people enjoy, there’s a greater chance someone will share it to their followers and when new people visit your site, the chances of getting a new customer is greater.

Content is king!

If you’re an author, especially a self-published author, you need to think of yourself as a business. That is how you’ll succeed in selling books. As a marketer, I’ve always encouraged the companies I’ve worked for to be proactive in creating content for their websites – in the form of news articles and blogs.

Not only does new content give you fresh material to share on social media, search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! give websites which continually produce content a bump in their search algorithms. What does this mean for you? The more quality content you create for your website, the greater the chance someone will find it while doing an internet search.

Create quality backlinks

One thing I always encourage people to do when writing reviews for books, especially for indie authors, is to provide a link – somewhere in the text – back to the author’s website (not just the Amazon or Barnes and Noble link).

Backlinks (or links which go to websites other than your own) are also an important element to search engine algorithms. Giving your reviewed author a backlink will help their website get a bump in the algorithm.

Doing this won’t directly help you, but the online writing community is an amazing group of people. I believe if you give someone the benefit of a backlink, they’re more likely to return the favor.

If you’re interested in creating your own backlinks, try to get a press release or news article published in your local paper or create a Wikipedia page for yourself and your book. If you’re having trouble getting your news picked up by the paper, try self-publishing news in local online papers like patch.com.

Not all backlinks are created equal though. To learn more, you should check out this article. It has a lot of great information.

The #WritersCommunity is tit-for-tat

Do a search for the hashtags #writerscommunity, #writingcommunity, #amwriting or just about any other word combination about writing on any social media platform and you’ll find a massive group of writers, editors, and publishers eager to help their fellow literary fanatic. The community offers a lot of support for people aspiring to write for a living or hobby.

However, nothing in this world is free. Yes, you could take the advice and run but it’s highly encouraged to give back to the community (i.e. you follow me, I’ll follow you back).

The same tit-for-tat rule should apply with reviews as well. It’s not practical for every one you write a review for to respond with a review of your work – it’s not a discredit to your skills, they just may not be into the genre you write. But, if you share a review of someone’s work, there’s a good chance they’ll share the review to their followers which, as we learned earlier, increases traffic to your website and puts more eyes on your work.

Can you think of any other reasons writing reviews would be helpful for your book marketing? Let me know in the comments below!

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