Publisher’s Perspective: Why Reviews Matter

 

DBG-Logo-2014Dina 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

Encourage relationships
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.

Success Stories

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.

Code Name Verity

“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

 

 

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

 

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.

You can view Disney Book Group titles on NetGalley here to request and review. Check out the webcast for more tips and sneak peeks of some of Disney Book Group’s upcoming fall titles.

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The Power of Reviews

During our annual NetGalley Challenge, we’re focusing on our how our members help books succeed by writing and sharing reviews. We thought we’d back up a bit and look at how authors and publishers can first gain the attention of book advocates and then how to earn reviews for their titles.

By now, you’ve heard that book reviews matter. They are one of the linchpins that retail sites use to  create algorithms that can increase a book’s visibility,. “Effective frequency” is the concept that consumers are more likely to complete a purchase after having seen the product a certain number of times. There is no magic answer about what that number might be, but the point is that name -and visual-recognition is powerful. The more your title, book cover, and author name are out in the world, the better, and reviews contribute to that saturation.

So, how do publishers and authors break through the noise of the crowded space that is book publishing today? Not every author has a major budget to promote their book, so it becomes important to strategically focus on the most effective outreach possible. By soliciting reviews in a targeted way, an author will begin to see buzz increase—the more reviews out there, the more likely it is that the book will continue to be reviewed as new readers discover the title. As with any product, when readers are looking for a new book or author to discover they will crowd-source their decision by talking with friends and family, and by reading reviews.

Before you start, it is essential to determine your goals and temper your expectations.

Where would you like your book reviewed, and why?

Where is your target audience going for book recommendations?

What is your budget for offering review copies (whether print or digital)?

There are a few different types of reviews you may look for, all of which offer a different type of visibility:

Continue reading “The Power of Reviews”

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Why Book Reviews Matter & How to Write Them

We’re always talking with our members and publishers to find out how they use NetGalley, and what is important to them when it comes to finding titles, reading them, providing Feedback. Recently some of you told us that you would like some tips on how to write a book review and what happens once you submit your review to the publisher via NetGalley.

First, I’d like to start with why your reviews are important to the success of the book and the author. Since most titles on NetGalley are pre-pub and not even yet on sale, publishers are making them available for a very specific purpose: to gain feedback and insight from you–professional readers and influencers. These reviews will later help inform consumers, too.

Publishers (and authors!) really love a thoughtful, insightful, meaningful review. They can be used in many ways: as a blurb on the printed galley or final book jacket, in marketing/advertising materials, to help build a blog tour or other online promotions, to spur excitement in-house and with sales reps, etc. Don’t take our word for it–here are a few anecdotes straight from our publishers (and scroll down for some tips for meaningful reviews, too!):

BookTalk_digital_CodeNameVerity2

 

 

Dina Sherman
School & Library Marketing Director
at Disney Book Group

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Tips for Writing Reviews”

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image We’re focusing this year’s NetGalley Wellness Challenge on Feedback and Reviews, because we’ve heard first-hand from publishers how word-of-mouth can truly help make or break a book’s success.

Today Pamela Brown, Marketing Director for Mulholland Books, has some words for our members:

No one is more important to a book’s success than you, dear reader.

“Marketers can spin their wheels coming up with creative contests, viral videos, and sought-after swag, but at the end of the day, we know it’s your recommendation—to your friends, to your family, to your colleagues—that matter.

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Take, for example, Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls. I made myself hoarse singing its praises, but it was not until reviewers like you started talking about Kirby Mizrachi and the time-traveling serial killer that it became one of last summer’s must-reads. Thank you. Please wield your power wisely by reviewing what you read and recommending what you love.”

You can view Mulholland Books’ titles on NetGalley here to request and review.

Take a peek at our best practices for Feedback here (whether you’re a blogger/reviewer, librarian, bookseller, media professional, or educator), and don’t forget to sign the Wellness Challenge Pledge!

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Recipes for Success: 8 Tips for Writing Good Book Reviews (or, A Neon Sign at the Topless Bar of Literature)

Guest Post: Janice Harayda, novelist, award-winning journalist, and founder and editor-in-chief of One-Minute Book Reviews

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We’re thrilled to welcome Janice Harayda to the NetGalley blog. After being fortunate enough to hear her panel on book reviewing at the 2012 BEA Bloggers conference, we’re so pleased she’s shared this updated version of her remarks as part of our Recipes for Success series. Janice Harayda is a novelist and an award-winning journalist who has been the book columnist for Glamour, the book editor of the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and a vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle. You can read more of her comments and tips on reviewing here, and follow her tweets at @janiceharayda.

Recipes for Success aims to give NetGalley members helpful information, tools, and best practices to help facilitate your growth and effectiveness as professional readers. Check back often for tips and tricks from the insiders.

A well-known book critic once said that she hoped that her reviews would be “a soft light in the alcove of art.” Some of the books I’ve reviewed have made me feel more like a neon sign at the topless bar of literature. But I share that critic’s view: A reviewer’s most important task is to help you see a book clearly and, especially, to show its uniqueness. A question I ask every day is: How can I show how this book differs from all others? And I’ve tried to develop a few guidelines for answering it. Continue reading “Recipes for Success: 8 Tips for Writing Good Book Reviews”

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NetGalley Devours: Big Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans

We have one more children’s book review for you this month! Keep an eye out for the Children’s Book Roundup in your inbox later today for even more great children’s titles available on NetGalley.

Have you read and reviewed Big Change for Stuart too? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter! #NGDevours

Big Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans
(Random House Children’s Publishers UK, pub date: May 2, 2013)
Big Change for Stuart

Recipe

Mix magic mayhem and mystery with fiendish puzzles and pulsating peril to make a truly compelling confection.

Description

Stuart Horten – ten, but looks younger – is now the owner of a magician’s workshop. Except that without his Great-Uncle’s Last Will and Testament, he can’t actually prove it. Which is a problem, since someone else wants it as well: someone who has a lot of money.

The workshop contains seven magnificent stage illusions, but when Stuart starts to investigate them, he discovers that each is the gateway to a magical adventure, with a puzzle to solve, and a clue to extract.

As the clues mount up, the adventures become riskier. Friendship is strained, danger looms, and Stuart has to decide what sort of prize he really, truly wants. [From the publisher]

Review

I have to confess I don’t read much Children’s fiction – but this title really caught my eye. My favourite book as a child was Stuart Little and finding another little Stuart was too much to resist, especially as my first child is due in a month! Continue reading “NetGalley Devours: Big Change for Stuart”

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NetGalley Devours: World on a String by Larry Phifer, Illustrator: Danny Popovici

Last week, Lindsey devoured World on a String. Have you read and reviewed this title too? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter! #NGDevours
Check back soon for another children’s book review from Stuart, NetGalley’s newest Concierge!

World on a String by Larry Phifer, Illustrator: Danny Popovici
Storytime Works/Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Member; Pub Date: Jun 4 2013
World on a String

Description: Picture book that offers a uniquely uplifting perspective on loss. World on a String is the story of a young boy, Charlie, who finds and befriends a big red balloon. Soon, Charlie and his balloon become best friends. They play together. They go to school together. They do everything together. Then, one night, Charlie’s balloon comes untied in a thunderstorm. At first, Charlie is very sad. He imagines that his friend is lost, tangled and all alone. However, by remembering the happy times they shared, Charlie is able to shift his perspective, deal with his loss and, ultimately, he imagines his balloon as a very important part of the starry sky. [From the publisher]

Review: I stumbled across World on a Stringand instantly did what we’re all told not to do—judged it by its cover, but in a good way. I was intrigued and wanted to see more, and since this IBPA member title is currently available to READ NOW in the NetGalley catalog, was able to download it right away. The illustrations hooked me by the second page, and …I found myself relishing in the little details and inherent movement of the artwork. Then I started to read the text—sweet rhymes that I knew would easily appeal to my two-year-old daughter. I did a complete read-through in just a few moments (this is a short picture book, after all) but ended up surprised at how quickly the story touched me. Continue reading “NetGalley Devours: World on a String”

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NetGalley Devours: An Infidel in Paradise by S.J. Laidlaw

Happy February! This month the NetGalley team will be looking at children’s and middle grade titles. Check back soon for even more reviews. Have you read and reviewed this title too? Let us know via Facebook or Twitter! #NGDevours

An Infidel in Paradise by S.J. Laidlaw 
(Tundra Books/Random House Canada, pub date: February 12, 2013)

An Infidel in Paradise

Description: Sixteen-year-old Emma is no stranger to moving. The daughter of a Canadian diplomat, her life has been a series of changing landscapes, cultures and friendships. But when her parents split up and she and her siblings are forced to move to Pakistan with her mother, her feelings of loss and culture shock are overwhelming. Add to that rising political tensions and her attraction to a local boy who has been promised to someone else, Emma’s life very quickly spirals out of control, putting herself and those she loves in mortal danger. [From the publisher]

Review: Ages 12 and up. I’ve always enjoyed books set in a place I’m unlikely to visit—-a pseudo-vacation, in a way. So I chose An Infidel in Paradise because it takes place in Pakistan, where Emma, the main character, has just moved. Emma’s mother is a busy and often disengaged diplomat, and her parents have recently separated, with her beloved father remaining in the Philippines at their family’s last post. Emma has lived all over the world, but she’s shattered by the changes in her family and the adjustments of living in a restrictive and sometimes hostile country.

The book’s not complicated, but it’s rich in details and brings to life the stark differences between the cultures (Emma is Canadian) in a way that will be appealing to teens because …it sneaks under the radar. You’ll learn what traditional Pakistanis wear, but because the girls go shopping; you’ll learn about arranged marriages, but through the eyes of the “hot” love interest. Laidlaw does a thorough job of introducing characters with different perspectives, from the wealthy Pakistani students who attend Emma’s school, to the poor children who collect trash outside the diplomatic compound and the servants who look after Emma’s family.

As a parent, this book reminded me of how unsettling and lonely the teen years can be, no matter where in the world you are. My heart ached for Emma for most of the book—-as she gets angry and says something she later regrets, as she pushes her friends away so she doesn’t have to risk losing them, as she misses her father but refuses to forgive him. She makes reckless but human decisions, but she loves and is loved genuinely, and the book comes full circle at the end as she regains her footing.

Middle-grade readers will like the casual language of the book, the teen-appropriate connection between Emma and Musa, and its quick pace. Adults will enjoy recommending it because of the cultural references and current events focus. A final note: the ending, though a bit dramatic for adults, is perfect for this genre.

I requested the book from the NetGalley catalog, and read on my iPad using the Bluefire Reader app.

If you would like to purchase An Infidel in Paradise you can do so at any of these locations:

Canada:
Print:
Amazon
Indigo

eBook:
Kobo
Amazon

United States:
Print:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

eBook:
Kobo
Amazon

– Review written by Susan Ruszala, NetGalley President

 

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