Reviewing the Professional Review

As a self-published author, I have read opponent comments that one of the downsides to choosing the “vanity” route is being unable to obtain professional reviews. Though I have found it difficult, it is not impossible.

The question I ponder regarding the review process, however, is how beneficial are professional reviews for authors?  Do they really increase book sales for the average author? I wish I had numbers. For a writer such as myself, who is not a household name or an industry legend, I’m not sure how much a review will plummet me into the spotlight or success.

If we compare the movie review process to that of the book review process, it’s a mixed pot of opinions.  A book is much like a movie – it’s a matter of taste and talent when it comes to liking or disliking a story.  It’s a fact not everyone likes every movie – not everyone likes every book. There are movie critics who review films and rate them “C” and the moviegoers turn it into a blockbuster hit at the box office. So who was right – the critic or the moviegoer? Sign into Yahoo’s movie reviews and read the disparity between the critics and the audience – amazing.

Disparity exists in book reviews too. Watch the five-star reviews going up from organizational reviews and then follow the three and two start reviews from readers. Who was right – the professional reviewer or the reader?

Frankly, I would like a good review from a professional organization – I won’t lie. It slaps that gold star of approval on your work and makes you feel great. Currently, I have my novel out to a popular women’s fiction review site. If they come back with five coffee cups, I’ll be plastering that news everywhere with the hopes it boosts my sales.

Let’s be realistic though and put this review process into perspective. It’s one person acting as a reviewer for an organization, reading your book and deciding whether they like it or not.  What makes them an expert?   Does the name of the organization behind that one person make it more meaningful or do the five-star reviews from my readers on Amazon and Barnes & Noble make it more meaningful?

Of course, if you get a bad review from an organization that’s a whole other matter. What do you do – slink away and give up? Will you never sell another book?

What is your take on reviews from professional organizations? Do good reviews from review organizations skyrocket authors into fame and success? Do they increase sales? Perhaps, it is merely an ego-stroking exercise authors participate in to find validation. If that’s the case, someone stroke me – please!

  • I’ve noticed that reviews alone do not increase sales. However, the more good reviews you get in different venues, the more people hear about your book/your writing/your name, and the larger the presence you create for yourself in the book world. Which will be helpful when the next one comes out.

    Additionally, if you get a good review from a smaller, reputable reviewer, the chances are greater that you’ll next be able to secure a review from a larger, even more reputable reviewer. The more reputable and trusted people you have liking your independently released book, the more seriously you’ll be taken by readers and critics alike.

  • Well, I’ve been stroked! And now I’m stoked! I passed my first mainstream review.


    • Congrats, Vicki!

      Nice review and here’s hoping it gets you one more rung up the ladder.

  • It all depends.

    When I was in the mainstream, reviews in Kirkus or Publishers Weekly were paramount because they motivated trade book buyers, especially independents. They do not review self-publishers, but they wouldn’t be much help if they did. They’d just be quotable.

    Professional or trade publications (hardcopy and online) that reach target audiences were and remain crucial to non-fiction publishers, even if only to ferret out more reviewers. Genre magazines (hardcopy and online) for buffs also were and remain absolutely critical to any genre author; they can really push sales.

    Blurbs from high-profile people in your genre are golden if your books sell at retail outlets where they can be read, or if placed on Amazon and other online sellers as well as sites visited by your pool of readers.