On Writing and Reviewing

I’m always on the lookout for good book marketing strategies. But it’s hard to know which ones to try. What worked well for someone else may be a complete waste of time for me.

One strategy I’ve dabbled with is writing reviews of books I read. Some authors and book marketing experts recommend doing this. I’ve heard other authors say “I am an author, not a reviewer, and I don’t have time to review books.” Which one is right?

The rationale for the reviewing strategy is that by writing reviews, people who read the reviews get a sample of your writing, and may be curious about what else you’ve written.

I’m not so sure anyone who reads one of my reviews will be interested in me. It’s more likely that they will make a decision to buy the book I’ve reviewed or not.

However, I do see a value in reviewing books in that it helps create relationships with other authors and readers. Other authors might then review my books, or at least cross-promote them. Over time, readers who follow my reviews may become interested in my books.

The upshot is that reviewing books is a long term, slow grow strategy. It’s not going to sell lots of books fast, but could develop a network that could eventually produce results.

And about the claim that it takes time away from writing? That is true, but it’s not all lost time. Just the exercise of reading a book and thinking about what worked, what didn’t, and why or why not I enjoyed it can help improve my own writing.

I’m also don’t set out to write 3000 word reviews. A three sentence paragraph is usually sufficient, and doesn’t take more than 15 to 20 minutes of my time. I try to review every book I read. Although that doesn’t always happen, I am building up quite a collection of reviews posted on amazon.com and goodreads.com.

Is it paying off in terms of sales? Honestly, at this point, I can’t say I’ve gotten any. But it is helping me network with other authors, which may yield some benefit down the road.

In our current world in which relationship marketing has become the favored approach, I think a few minutes each week on strategies that help me build relationships and a network are most likely worth my time. Those who give the most are the ones who will receive the greatest rewards in the long run.

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