Righting Misconstrued Ideas of What a Great Review Consists Of

I usually post only reviews on this blog (see the submission guidelines in the left column!). It is open for authors, publishers, reviews, and readers who want to spread the word about the books they read. Today, I'm republishing a note I wrote to the subscribers of my SharingwithWriters newsletter because it deals with reviews--and, I believe, can be helpful to all those who contribute and visit these pages. Here it is:

Dear Subscribers:

Perhaps the hardest job I have is to convince my clients that a critical review can actually be beneficial to the sales of their book. (The other is convincing them that marketing a book is not selling a book but an act of consideration—that is identifying their readers so they can be helped or entertained in the way they like best!)

Back to reviews. I was reading a review for The Small Big: Small Changes That Spark Big Influence by Steve J. Martin and Noah Goldstein with Robert Cialdini in Time magazine. And there! Right there! Was the clincher. It leads with, "At first glance, little differentiates Berkshire Hathaway stockholder reports from those of any other major corporation. But look closer. Even in years when Berkshire has been unimaginably successful, [the Berkshire Chairman draws attention] to a snag or strain in the company."

"What," you may ask, "does that have to do with my book, or reviews for my book?"

The review amplifies a bit: "Researchers who study persuasion know that messages can be amplified when people present a small weakness in them, which in turn garners a higher level of trust."

As those of you who have read my The Frugal Book Promoter know, I don't advocate slash and burn review tactics—for authors who review books or authors who take the lowest road and denigrate their competitors' books. But a review that is honest, one that tempers praise with a little helpful critique, can be of far more value than one that looks as if it were written by the author's mother.

Apparently this book also suggests that those with something to sell might "arrange for someone to toot your horn on your behalf." It gives an example of the old switch tactic that I've had car salespeople use on me when they turn me over to someone who is "more experienced," or "in a better position to cut me a deal."

Another lesson: Use potential. Facebook users introduced to "someone who could become the next big thing" were more convinced than they were from a mere list of his or her credentials, however stellar.

And while we're at it, one of the first "lessons" I learned about endorsements (they're sort of like mini reviews, right?) is that you can write them and present them to someone in a position to influence your particular readers in the query letter you write to them. You tell them that if they prefer they can chose one one of your prepackaged endorsements--edit it or not--or write one of their own. It's a way of keeping control over the aspects of your book you'd most like to have at the forefront of readers' awareness and—at the same time—being of service to the person you are querying. You will also up your success rate for getting an endorsement because many movers-and-shakers aren't necessarily writers and the idea of writing an endorsement from scratch scares the beejeebees out of them!

You can do the same thing with a review. Write one the way you would like to see it (using some of the techniques outlined in this note to you), and let someone else—someone with tons of credibility--sign off on it. If no one does, you can use the review in your media kit with a note that it is a "sample review." That's honest and sometimes needed when you're finding it hard to get that first review! By the way, that's another tip you'll find in The Frugal Book Promoter along with ways to avoid paying for a review and why you should avoid paying for one.

Happy writing, editing, and promoting,

PS I’d love to see those of you who live in the LA area at the coming Digital Conference (http://www.wcwriters.com/dasp/program.html) for sure, though hotel accommodations are available for out-of-towners. I’ll be speaking on “Using Createspace as a One-Stop Shop for Digital and Paper” and “Digital Marketing Made Simple.” Get more details by scrolling to the bottom of this newsletter for my coming presentations. 

WritersontheMove blogger Carolyn Howard-Johnson is author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. She offers a free review service  to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love at  http://TheNewBookReview.Blogspot.com  .If you would like to contribute a review, please follow the submission guidelines in the left column of the review blog. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers.  

1 comment:

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, what a great review of the importance reviews. I love the idea of having prepackaged reviews, like prepackaged testimonials. Great book marketing tip!

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