Post 5 of 26 of The Self-Publishing Series
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Reviews are the reader’s emotional reactions
Reviews are a unique currency. As I said yesterday you can have a great conversation with your readers through their reviews but today I want to look at the power of reviews for potential buyers. Do different reviews have more credibility than others? The image below is a snapshot of my book’s reviews. Which reviews do you want to read? Here’s how I believe most potential buyers navigate the reviews of books and why it matters to you as an author.
Buyers will look at the overall balance of reviews. If there are only five star reviews then the book has no credibility. It needs 80% five star reviews and the remaining 20% will likely be spread out through one through four star reviews. Michael Hyatt’s book Platform is a great example of this. Some people are just NOT going to like your book and others are going to love it. If a book has more of a 50/50 split between five star and the other 50% between one through four stars then buyers are going to run away.
What reviews will they read first?
Shoppers will likely first read the most helpful reviews according to Amazon. Amazon will push this review to the top of the reviews below the book description and rankings. This is good because Amazon allows visitors to dictate which reviews are most helpful. Some readers will click through the reviews link and look a the most helpful positive review and the most helpful critical review. Amazon puts these right next to each other.
Which reviews will influence readers the most?
Readers obviously have all sorts of different tastes. The “most helpful critical review” of my book takes issue with my inclusion of references to God in my book. He also says the book helped him build a habit of rising early. His review probably isn’t helping my book sales but that’s just something out of the author’s control.
I believe that most readers will look for a balance of reviews and add them together to get a clear picture of the book. If the book follows the 80/20 rule most buyers will at a minimum download a free sample or go ahead and make a purchase.
Why are four star reviews more powerful than five star reviews?
If someone writes a five star review I know they loved the book. There’s really no reason to read the review. If a book gets a four star review then something’s not perfect and that’s what I want to know. As a person who reads a lot of books I find four star reviews to be the most helpful when making my buying decision. As an author I don’t encourage five star reviews. I encourage honest reviews. If your book only has five star reviews then pray for some four star reviews because they’re believable.
Sidebar: If a large majority of your reviewers received the book as part of a review program and state that in their review it will really hurt the sales of your book. Buyers are wising up and looking for “Amazon Verified Purchase” at the top of the review. Make sure to encourage your readers who have purchased the book to leave a review in the final pages of your book.
How do you think reviews impact potential buyer’s decisions?
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