"Book Reviews as Tools of Promotion," by Mayra Calvani

Book reviews are one of the most effective tools of book promotion. In fact, some experts consider reviews to be the most effective tool.

For librarians, top review publications such as Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, School Library Journal, etc., play a vital role in the selection of titles. Reviews are the strongest criterion for selection. While it’s true booksellers look at different criteria when making a decision about which books to stock, reviews are a tremendously useful and helpful factor, especially when in doubt or when the author is unknown. Pre-release review publications like the ones mentioned before play an important role in the selection of books, allowing bookstores to order titles in advance of their official release dates, thus making them available to the public immediately after their release. Online reviews are particularly important when selecting titles from small presses or unknown authors who often don’t get reviews in the major pre-release publications.

The fact is, most people read reviews. Reviews and readers go together like wine and cheese. Before spending money on a book--especially in the case of expensive hard covers--most people turn to reviews to get an idea of the book’s quality and whether or not there’s a recommendation. In this age of computers when almost every person has a PC at home, it’s easy for booklovers to access the Internet and read book reviews. With the rise of so many niche review sites, book blogs, and readers sharing their reviews on sites like Amazon, it’s popular to read reviews. Also, the more reviews about a book, the more buzz and exposure.

Do you read reviews before purchasing a book? Do you have a favorite review publication or website?


--Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and is the co-author of the award-winning The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. She’s had over 300 stories, articles, interviews and reviews published both online and in print, in publications such as The Writer, Writer's Journal, Acentos Review, Bloomsbury Review, Mosaic, and Multicultural Review, among many others. A reviewer for more than a decade, she now offers numerous book reviewing workshops online. She also offers workshops on the art of picture book writing. Visit her website at www.MayraCalvani.com 


Anne Duguid Knol said...

Yes, I do read reviews before buying a book though in the case of a known author I might make a decision based solely on the blurb.
I do steer clear of review sites that only give five stars and I view Amazon fors and againsts very carefully. I've seen more than a few five star reviews there which were perhaps written by the author's mother. lol.

Margaret Fieland said...

I don't make a habit of reading reviews before I purchase a book -- I do collect recommendations, though, and I'll read a review afterward, sometimes, to see if I agree or not. The only book I read based on reviews in the relatively recent past (like eight months or so) was "The Help." The reviews didn't convince me I'd love the book (I didn't), but collectively they did persuade me I wanted to see for myself what all the hoopla was about.

NancyCL said...

I not only read reviews, but I write them too! I love reading and passing on information about books after I've finished them. I loved your book and found it truly helpful! Thanks Mayra!!!

Magdalena Ball said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly Mayra. And I do feel that there's a growing democracy with reviews - more and more readers are writing them and when well written, they really do help to 'curate' (all important when the bar to publishing has been lowered) and identify what's high quality. I will often read reviews before buying books, and of course my favourite site is The Compulsive Reader. :-) (though there are plenty of other good sites - Amazon and Goodreads are great review sources.

Karen Cioffi said...

I don't usually read reviews to determine if I'll read a book. Like Peggy, I go on recommendations. But, I do agree that they are a very effective marketing tool.

The reviews I do read though do help in whether I add the book to my 'to read' list.

My daughter is a member of a book group and they choose their books based on reviews and the New York Bestseller List.

Great topic Mayra. I love your graphic.

Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

Donna McDine said...

I definitely read reviews of books to help me determine if I'd like to purchase, but I don't let that be my only deciding factor. When I first starting writing I reviewed many books, but I haven't in quite some time.

All the best,

Debbie A Byrne said...

I read reviews too. Great post!

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