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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Review Tips and Preferences, From the Publisher’s Perspective

Jessica Brock is an Associate Publicist at Berkley/NAL and has provided us with some great tips to keep in mind when writing reviews & for your NetGalley profile. Jessica also joined us during our live-webcast (which you can watch here) to speak directly to our members, expand on her suggestions below, & give us a sneak peek at Berkley/NAL’s top Fall titles! Berkley_logo1

Keep your profile current with links to your blog and social media accounts:
We really prefer reviewers with multiple platforms, so that the reviews are reaching a wider audience.

The most relevant information should be at the top of your profile:
What is most relevant is your blog stats (hits, followers, page views per month etc.) followed by genre preferences/favorite authors, which is all great information to have upfront. If you keep all of the relevant information towards the top of your bio, then your request may be approved more quickly. All things to keep in mind when building and updating your profile.

Reviews on NetGalley:
Constructive and thoughtful:
Comments like “omg this was so good!” are fine, but tell me why you liked the book and what you enjoyed about it. If it wasn’t your cup of tea, then thoughtfully explain why. This is very relevant information to have, and we want to know what our readers are thinking and what is being said about the book – good or bad, that is thoughtful, and covers multiple points.

Try and have an “overall thoughts” part or pull quote at the top:
Try to give us an overall idea of your review and your general takeaway of the book. It could be something like “This is my new favorite hero – he so loyal and I will follow him for the rest of the series.” Then, when we pin your review to the page on NetGalley (super helpful!) readers will see this first and think “oh, this person really liked the main character” “or this sounds like something I would be interested in.”

Link to the review on your blog:
It is very helpful for publishers to include the link to where the review will appear publicly when you submit your review. It’s good to get a sense of where else the review is posted elsewhere.

Click here to watch the full webcast, where Jessica is joined by other review experts & read our other informational Recipes for Success articles!

To connect with Jessica and Berkley/NAL visit their Publisher page on NetGalley, and their Twitter: @BerkleyRomance (romance titles), @BerkleyNAL (general fiction/women’s fiction/thrillers/non-fiction), @AceRocBooks (sci-fi/fantasy/urban fantasy)

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Review Tips, From the Librarian Perspective

We’re happy to welcome Amanda Buschmann, a Middle School Librarian and reviewer for School Library Journal. Amanda has provided tips for writing reviews, which were also included in our live-webcast (which you can watch here). Read on for her tip 5 tips!

Organize
Briefly sketch out an outline before you begin. A helpful review is one that is organized; begin with an eye-catching introduction that entices and intrigues. A quote, a statement of the narrative situation, and your “thesis” lead the way.

Share
Summarize the plot, sure, but spend most of the review discussing your personal commentary. What did you like/dislike, and why? What makes this book different than others of its ilk?

Insert
Quotes are helpful and give the potential reader an idea of the verbiage–something you found interesting, something that confused you, a cool line that makes you pause.

Entice
Identify a theme/key idea and introduce it to entice the reader. Does the book touch on whether or not it’s morally acceptable to terraform another planet, or covet your friend’s promotion, or so on? Discuss it without spoiling the “answer”!

Recommend
Include “If you like this, then you’d like…” recommendations, as well as recommendations on age group (if applicable) and applications.

Click here to watch the full webcast, where Amanda is joined by other review experts & read our other informational Recipes for Success articles!

To connect with Amanda, follow @thegoodread on twitter. 

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The Book Smugglers Present… Tips for Writing Reviews

We asked trusted experts to share with our community their top tips when it comes to writing book reviews. Thea James, co-founder of The Book Smugglers, was generous to contribute her tips and join us during our live-webcast (which you can watch here) to speak directly to our members about writing reviews. Continue reading for Thea’s tips, and make sure to watch the webcast at your convenience to hear Thea expand on her suggestions below, and to hear from other experts!

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1. Be Genuine
Your natural tone is your most powerful tool and signature as a reviewer

2. Vomit ALL THE FEELS
Genuine emotion builds your voice and audience (see #1)

3. Make Yourself Write (aka Be Consistent)
There aren’t enough hours in the day, but setting up a routine will help keep things on track.

4. Figure out your ideal template (and replicate it)
Summary + Characters + Things that Worked/Didn’t Work + Overall Rating

5. Experiment with structure/format/syntax
Playing around with the key elements or traditional representation of reviews can engage readers in a major way

6. Use Examples
Use quotes or other examples directly from the text to back up your review—it makes your review stronger, and gives readers a first-hand opinion

7. Know Yourself 
Sometimes the review just isn’t there (yet)—know when to step back, or push onward

8. HAVE FUN
Because who wants to read something laborious and  written out of obligation!?

Click here to watch the full webcast, where Thea (co-founder of The Book Smugglers) expands on the tips above, and is joined by other review experts & read our other informational Recipes for Success articles!

To connect with The Book Smugglers visit their website, twitter, facebook, and tumblr!

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