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Why Book Reviews Matter! Part Two-The Financial Side

Categories: Blog Post, Update, Writer Advice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Okay so *cracks knuckles*.

We promised we’d make a post about how both retailer site reviews help on the creative side and another on the financial side of things. Both are and should be important because, let’s face it, writing isn’t all about creativity and entertainment, it’s also a business and a ton of writers make their livings off writing alone.

There are tons of reasons why reviews impact your favorite(or not so favorite) book financially but for time purposes, Libertad and I wanted to sim it down to five solid reasons why reviews are so important on retailer sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Itunes and why you should consider leaving some on your favorite authors books like now!

1.You’re a bargain reader

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bargain reader. I’m more like likely to splurge on books that are 2.99 and under, especially if the author is new to me. A book priced at .99 cents is excellent and free is especially great if it’s the beginning to a series but did you know that authors need at least 10 reviews averaging of at least a 4.0 to spread awareness about their .99 cents and free books discounts? I know you’re all going “what does that mean?”

Well, it means that a lot of times authors(us especially) really want to discount their books at .99 cents or even free but can’t because it’s super hard to get that first ten reviews when you’re relatively new. That means it takes us about a month or two to be able to advertise our discounted novel with book discount sites like Bookbub when we’d really love to be able to start doing it from the very beginning.

If you’re someone who loves supporting your favorite authors but are on a tight budget, consider joining their ARC team and leaving a review on their book’s release day. Even if you’re not technically buying the books, you’re still a very valuable asset to your favorite writers when you help them out with ARC reviews that you post on retailer sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. People tend to skip books with no reviews and will often only take a chance on them if they’re in KU.

Even we have our favorite authors( Guinevere loves Delaney Diamond and Kahillah Fox while I adore Victoria H. Smith and Rebekah Weatherspoon y’all, just sayin) but with how often we both read(especially since we prefer audiobooks) when one of our favorite writers discounts a book we just thank the heavens! It’s a beautiful way to still support your favorite author on the financial side. The more reviews a book has, the more times we can give it away at a lower price point to entice new readers like yourself. So overall, leaving reviews is a win-win situation for both parties!

2. Target Audience

Target Audience is key for knowing who to market a book to. Writers are often told to write, creating a fictional avatar, or “their biggest fan”, because it’s easier to market to one person than a random sea of people.

That helps for morale as far as writing the book, but in promoting a book not so much. Sometimes your intended audience is not always who ends up being your target audience.

One of biggest examples follow our first three series’ and I’ll give examples for each of them(even though the NA is similar, so I’ll combine those two).

Our very first published novel was The Mark of Noba. We made a lot of mistakes in promoting the novel, because we were being too broad of what kind of audience we were trying to capture for it. Since it’s a YA novel with elements of science fiction AND fantasy, we were never really sure what category or audience would enjoy it better, so we always went with its time travel aspect.

Take in mind, for years we’d been told its Urban Fantasy. We thought it had an UF feel, but our stubborn ways hurt it more than helped. We always thought our interracial couple on the cover was killing its visibility, but when a prolific author in the indie community gave her take on our book’s cover, as well as the reviews that weren’t always positive voicing such, we knew it was time to rebrand it.

We ended up reformatting the book, as well as changing elements to amp up the fantasy factor a bit. We went with a custom photoshoot to capture the two main characters in a way stock art wasn’t giving us(and we still went with our interracial couple) and redid the cover.

Since it’s re-release, its stayed in the top 100 of some of its major categories on Amazon, all because we decided to promote it as an Urban Fantasy as opposed to a YA Time Travel book. Reviews helped us brand the book to the right audience, otherwise we would’ve been promoting it to the wrong people until this day.

Now I know you’re thinking, I write/read romance! How does that help me?

Learning your target audience through the help of reviews is very, if not more helpful in romance than any other genre. First off, the rules to romance are very simple.

  1. The romance must be the biggest part of the story
  2. It must happen in a HEA or HFN
  3. Must end emotionally satisfying

Pretty simple, right? But even after knowing that, there are a couple dozen subgenres in romance, proving that romance isn’t one size fits all.

Our New Adult series’ Bookish Friends To Lovers as well as Friends That Have Sex are also interracial romance books. For marketing purposes, Interracial Romance I’m going to refer to interchangeably with Contemporary Romance, because to me they’re the same thing, same tone, just assume if I’m talking about CR, I’m referring to IR in the same thread. Back to the post, both series feature characters who fall for someone of an opposite race, despite that not being the biggest part of the plot.

We were lucky enough to get two Bookbubs last year that were within weeks of one another for both series—one paid, one free. Book Two from the BFTL series got approved in African American, while F*THS got approved in New Adult.

Take in mind, both of these series’ are New Adult. Both of these series feature Black women. Both of these series feature interracial couples. But they also both have controversial topics to bring up in romance.

Same Page, book one featured a guy who’d had a relationship with someone outside of his long distance girlfriend and marijuana use; F*THS featured a girl battling Hodkin’s Lymphoma who wasn’t likable, with marijuana and LSD use. Both were friends to lovers books, both had topics readers either cheered or jeered.

After putting them on promo, you can expect a handful of new reviews, both good and bad. Especially with a discount book list as big as Bookbub. After you shift through some of the reviews, you notice who enjoy the books more.

So even though they’re still interracial books, and we’re still going to promote them that way, the New Adult audience expects a little more edge/angst than traditional contemporary romance. So now we know, without a doubt, that Same Page and F*THS are definitely New Adult.

3. Sales

Believe it or not, the amount of reviews a book has(especially verified purchases) a slight impact on how your book ranks on Amazon. And since Amazon is where a lot of authors make a huge percentage of their sales, that’s really super helpful.

I know when we get a new review, we notice our page reads and sales go up a little, sometimes a lot. We’ve heard it may have a lot to do with Amazon’s algorithms. I know a lot of authors fear getting ones and twos, but we can be the first to tell you we’ve gotten a plethora of ones and two and not once has it impacted our sales. Amazon tends to push the books they think are selling so new reviews on top of a book that’s already slightly selling, means Amazon will push it in front of people more.

Visibility is key when finding new reads and you can’t find your next favorite read without visibility. Reviews aren’t the only factor in that, but they do contribute a little to the way Amazon pushes it in front of the right readers, that means you!

4. Credibility

Sometimes it’s not even the amount of reviews a book has. It’s about if there are enough reviews to give an insight of what people liked and disliked about a story. I don’t know about you but when I see a book in my “Recommended For You” emails and they get a click out of me, I’m always a bit disappointed when every review I see is a 4 or 5 and all the reviews say is “This author does it again”, but doesn’t tell me anything about whether I want to pick it up or not.

Which review tells you more about your next TBR:

Amazon Reviewer:

I loved this book so much! Characters were great! Pick it up right now!

Or

Amazon Reviewer:

This book had so much going on that it held my attention. Not a fan of cheating but the hero won me over and I really rooted for him and the heroine even though he was cheating on his gf to be with her. This book isn’t for everyone, but the chemistry is crazy good and I gotta say, this is my first time sympathizing with a cheater. I kept thinking there’s no way he’s going to….but then he did. I hated myself for liking him but he was so damn sexy!Ugh!

Which review would you trust? Both are short and slightly praising but one is more informative.

That’s how a ton of the reviews are like for our first NA romance Same Page, Book 1 of the Bookish Friends To Lovers series. The second review tells everyone who might want to read it that there’s cheating in the book. If you don’t like cheating, this review just helped you decide that it isn’t for you. See how much weight the power you readers have? You help each other and this is especially important when there are so many other books out there that have the themes you’d rather read about.

Lesson of the Day:

Reviews, especially honest ones, give books credibility. It lets the next person browsing their recommended list that all the reviews aren’t left by just friends and family, lol. Although I wish our family did this because we have a huge one!

5. Proof that your favorite books are profitable

How many times have we all heard the lie that books about non-white, non-straight people don’t sell. Personally, we’ve heard it too many times to count. And they’re often from readers or writers that would never read or write about a brown person to begin with.

My sister and I write multicultural YA urban fantasy and contemporary, as well as New Adult and Contemporary Romance. All of our heroines are of African descent, ranging in culture. Nigerian-American, Cuban American, Haitian American and in one of our African American Romances we planned to release this year, a heroine is even Afro-British, London accent and all, of Ghanaian ancestry. Writing inclusively isn’t really a choice. It’s our lives. So when people say diverse romance or diverse YA doesn’t sell, here’s what we hear: We don’t fall in love. We’re one-dimensional and worse of all, our stories don’t matter.

(This one features an Afro-British Ghanian Heroine with and An Afro-Boricua hero!)

Mainstream books(books with solely white characters) tend to have thousands of reviews, whereas many African American, Multicultural or Interracial romances are just pushing a few hundred. I know for a fact that our books don’t get reviewed as much as they get read. Since many of our titles are in Kindle Unlimited, it’s tough to see your book being read over one hundred times in one a day and for every one hundred maybe one will review it. We get it, ain’t nobody got time to leave a review for every book that they read when there’s barely enough time to start the next book in queue. But leaving a review whether you loved or hated it proves someone was interested in it enough to buy it, canceling out the background noise that inclusive book can’t or won’t sell. Reviews help prove these haters wrong!

If you haven’t read Part One, The Creative Side of this post, be sure to check it out here. You’re sure to reach a few *a-ha* moments from there too!

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