How To Write Killer Book Reviews (And Make Money Doing It)
Every author who has ever penned a book knows that in today's fast-paced, consumer-driven market, reviews are the best key to success. As consumers, we live in a time in which we often believe we don't have time to read anything but the “best books,” and so we are rarely motivated to buy any books that someone else hasn't already taken a chance on and found to be “worth reading.” An unfortunate side effect of this trend is that many excellent books written by many excellent authors often go unread, merely because no one (yet) has read them.
That's where you, the review writer, come in! Your words, your adorations (or critiques) of books you like become the salespeople that get the customers in the door-- and authors realize this. If it wasn't for people like you, reviewers who spread the word about books that are “worth reading,” the only authors who would ever sell their books would be those who sell textbooks to schools.
In this hub, I'm going to address how to write a killer book review that is sure to attract the attention you deserve as a writer. I'm going to tell you how you can make money doing it, and best of all, I'm going to make it simple!
Write about books you know:
One of the best ways to get started as a reviewer is to review your favorites! Make a list of books that you really enjoyed reading at different points in your life and then write a review for all of them. These reviews don't have to be long-- 250 to 500 words is a great and easy target that leaves plenty of room for gloried praise (or criticism) without boring your audience with details they could easily delve into by reading the book. Make sure to use tantalizing language to hint at these details, though! Make your reader want to read the books that you know are worth reading!
After writing a few such reviews, you might be surprised at the feedback you get! I wrote a review for Looking Glass by James R. Strickland here and got a personalized thank you (as well as a free book!) in return. Other authors have acknowledged me with comments, notes, and some have even featured my reviews on their websites, giving me visitor traffic I never would have had otherwise!
Write about the books written by authors you know:
Another really fabulous tactic is to write reviews for books written by authors you know or can contact and have a conversation with, (even if that conversation is online.) Authors who are open to talking with you are often very active online, doing everything they can to get into the public eye, and they are more than happy to take your review with them as they rise, sharing the link to your words relentlessly. Much as two heads are better than one, two people promoting your review (yourself and the author whose work you've written about) means double (or more) visitor traffic to capitalize on!
I've seen this happen in my own time as a writer of reviews as well. While it can be easy to be one of the many adoring fans of a book like Altered Carbon (see my review here) a best selling author like Richard K. Morgan isn't likely to give more than a glance at your review. Authors like Richard Cody (whose book, Darker Corners, I reviewed here) and authors like myself (hint hint) on the other hand, will blog and share and promote your review like crazy! We know the value of promotion, and we're more than happy to scratch your back if you scratch ours.
Create a network of links:
Another great way to make your reviews more visible to readers is to link them together, making use of ways to suggest similar books so that people can discover more than just one book worth reading! Remember, the more visible your reviews are, the more readers you will get and the more money you will make, so share your talent!
Become visible enough, and eventually, authors will start to seek you out and ask you to review their books in exchange for free copies (and sometimes even payment!) In response to this trend in my own life, I even started a little reviewing business on the side (check it out here) that proves that authors are willing to pay to have you read and write a little review about their book. Whether you take this as bribery for a good review is up to you-- I believe in the power of honest reviews, in maintaining my integrity as a reviewer, and those authors that pay me know and respect me for that. They come to me because they don't want fluff that's going to be passed over by consumers as a fake review-- they want well informed, honest and insightful reviews that reach customers and turn them into purchasers.
One of the most important parts of being a reviewer is knowing how to monetize your reviews without getting so skanky that potential customers are likely to be turned off even before you've had the chance to wow them with your first sentence. Avoid pop-ups and pop-unders at all costs-- these tactics come across as desperate and cheap, instantly slowing your reader's computer and putting distance between them and yourself as a reviewer. People interested in reviews aren't interested in anything that comes across as commercial-- they want reviews that are honest, straight-forward and written by fellow consumers that have taken the time to investigate the books that the rest of us would never normally have any reason to.
Ad opportunities provided by sites like Hubpages are a great example of how reviews should be monetized. Affiliate marketing placed unobtrusively to the side is the key to getting your message across clearly without confusing it among ads that readers aren't interested in being forced to see. Revenues from these services can be low at first, but give them time to grow and the returns are enormous-- well worth the time spent to write the review! Remember to remind your readers that if they like your review(s) they should visit your sponsors to show their support! Just looking at an ad doesn't net you much, but a couple of visitors who take the time to click on advertising relevant to their interests can add up quickly and provide all the incentive you need to get moving on your next quality review!
Ad services provided by sites like Amazon and Ebay are another great way to monetize your reviews. Unlike affiliate ads, they provide a direct link to a product (such as the book you're reviewing) and net you a percentage of its sale. Write a convincing enough, honest enough review, and people will be motivated to buy books through your ads, giving you another reason to link your reviews together (and therefore open the door to more sales!)
What are you waiting for? Get writing!
There is a whole world of books out there and an ocean of authors that are just waiting for your reviews! Start small, start with the familiar, talk to people you know who are authors and ask them for electronic copies of books you can review. Connect with authors whose work you have reviewed through emails and comments to let them know where they can find your reviews. You can even start by practicing on me, if you like! (Don't worry, I don't bite!)
Whatever book or author you start with, remember that it is your duty to be honest, but it is also your duty to sell the book you're writing the review about (you won't make any money otherwise!) If you don't like a book, don't write about it! (You'd just be giving it publicity anyway) Likewise, if you like a book but don't absolutely love it, tell the reader about its qualities (instead of focusing on its inadequacies.) Ultimately it is up to the consumer to decide if a book is worth buying, but your review can help guide them, pointing them in the right direction (without being pushy or desperate.)
- - -
If you like this hub, you can find more by the same author (E.S. Wynn) by visiting his central Hub here.