Publisher’s Perspective: Why Reviews Matter
Dina Sherman is the School and Library Marketing Director at Disney Book Group and joined us during our live-webcast (which you can watch here) to give a few examples of how you help books succeed.
Reviews matter because they. . .
Help convey the content of the book
First, and on a very basic level, you help convey the content of the book to potential consumers (this can inspire an initial interest, or create another impression). Perhaps your interpretation is different from the publishers, and resonates with your followers.
Help build excitement in-house
Your reviews can help build excitement for a book within the publishing house (which may influence more marketing or sales efforts)
Foreign book rights
It can influence rights, like Movie & TV rights and foreign book rights
Influence award nominations
Your enthusiasm can influence award nominations and inclusion on lists
They can help foster relationships between reviewers, publishers and authors
Influence book purchases
Which is fairly obvious, but always important
Influence cover designs
Galley covers are rarely the final cover, and publishers do look for what response they are getting.
Does it reflect the book’s content/tone/theme? Does it feel too young or old? If there are consistent comments that come up, they can be brought to meetings with designers and editors.
Inspire sequels and spinoffs
Maybe a lot of reviewers were really drawn to a supporting character, or subplot that that publisher now wants to build off of.
Identify new audiences
You can help identify new audiences for the book – maybe the publisher wasn’t aware that this book resonated with a particular group of people who share the same interest.
Your reviews can also influence what acquiring editors will go on to publish – they can look at key themes or values in reviews of new books to help decide what readers want to see next.
With the sometimes overwhelming amount of information and media available today, you are breaking through the noise by reaching out to publishers directly to tell them what is important to you, as a reader. Your reviews are certainly influential, but perhaps you don’t always see what that influence looks like. Here are some concrete examples of books where NetGalley reviewers’ quotes played a big part in building excitement, buzz, and sales.
“Probably my favorite NetGalley review of all time was for Code Name Verity. It was an in-house favorite (OK, let’s be honest, an in-house obsession) from the first time we read the manuscript. We talked about it all the time, shared it with every person we met, but couldn’t quite sum up our feelings.Then came this wonderful reviewer*, who wrote, “Suck it, Hemingway.” Exactly! It became our rallying cry and we would say it in meetings whenever we were trying to express our feelings about the book. It certainly helped us keep pushing to get it out into the world.”
* Written and submitted by Katherine Montgomery, educator
Every Last Word was an in-house favorite YA novel. The team decided to put together a preview mailing to help build buzz. They were able to reach out to NetGalley reviewers and take quotes from their NetGalley reviews to put together a sheet of rave reviews. This praise really helped get people excited for the book!
These Broken Stars was voted “most likely to be hand sold” on NetGalley. It was a new author team, and some bookstores were unsure about stocking it. Reviewers on NetGalley loved it, which helped a buyer convince an account to carry the book, and the whole series, in their bookstores.
All-in-all, publishers want to know what readers think and respond to, and you’re helping them do that. Your reviews and constructive feedback can help a publisher and/or author make adjustments to the cover or content before on sale (we’ve personally seen this happen as a direct result of reviews from NetGalley members, and it changed the course of the books for the better.)
Publishers know that reviewers on NetGalley do not hold back – you are honest, and constructive and very thoughtful when sharing your opinions with them. You take your book advocacy very seriously, and in turn, publishers are more inclined to take you seriously as early influencers.