Seeing early positive reader reviews on Goodreads and Amazon can feel thrilling and gratifying. Finally, after all your hard work, real people are reading your book, and they felt invested enough to take the time to review it online!
But should you “do” anything after receiving a positive reader review — and if so, what? And when?
Reader reviews can be more than just validation that you wrote an engaging book; they also provide an opportunity to connect with people who have already shown investment in your work, which can also be a valuable tool for growing your author platform. Here’s how you can better connect with reviewers, and keep growing their investment in and engagement with you — and your future books!
Respond on Goodreads, not Amazon.
Goodreads allows authors and other users to respond to reviews and questions; Amazon does not. Goodreads is the better platform for responding to reader feedback anyway, because it’s a social media platform targeted specifically for readers who want to engage with books and authors!
Thank readers for their feedback.
Have you ever had the thrilling sensation of reviewing, tweeting about, or otherwise making social media commentary on the work of someone you admire, and then the person in question actually responds? It can be a wonderful, personalized moment that can make you feel “special” and “seen.” By thanking your readers for their positive and/or thoughtful reviews, you’re showing that you’re engaged with them, and this incentivizes them to continue to engage with you.
Answer readers’ questions.
If a reader asks a question about your book, characters, plot, etc. on Goodreads (or other social media platform), feel free to answer them (providing that it’s something you’d like to answer, and isn’t too personal and doesn’t give away spoilers)! This continues to build the relationship between you and your readers. We love seeing readers actively engaged with their audiences, and creating communities around their work!
Don’t feed the trolls.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that not everyone is going to like your book. Some may go so far as to leave a negative review or comment. Try not to take this personally. People are entitled to their own opinions. Plus, some readers assume that authors don’t read the reviews — which of course we know couldn’t be further from the truth!
If the reviewer expresses not liking your book, you can choose to ignore the comment, or you can simply and politely thank them for their feedback (and perhaps recommend another book of yours that they may enjoy more). If a reader points out an obvious plot hole or error, you can respond in a good natured way and thank them for catching it (and perhaps even lightheartedly joke that they should go into editing!).
However, if a reader is intensely critical of you or your work, or tries to argue with you in the comments, do not engage. Avoid being drawn into online arguments of any kind by always being respectful, polite, and knowing when to step away from the computer. It’s not your job to “win” anyone over!
Tell readers how they can engage with you further.
When you reply, let readers know that they can stay connected with you on social media (include your handles), get the latest news about giveaways and exclusives from your newsletter (include a link), and tell them more about your other books by linking to your website. (Note, it is overwhelming to include ALL of these things in each message, but mentioning 1-2 of these things can go a long way!). If a reader is asking a lot of questions, encourage them to follow you on socials so they can stay updated. Never be pushy or salesy; but don’t be afraid to ask people to follow you or check out your other work. These readers have demonstrated that they’re invested in you, so give them opportunities to connect with you further, and (when appropriate) ask for their support!
Readers and reviewers want to feel like they have a relationship with you, and cultivating those relationships can make a lasting impact on your current and future releases.
Chelsea is a copywriter, editor, publicist, and content creator at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers. Interested in what’s possible for your book sales and building readership? Check out our services, tell us your goals, and get a customized publicity campaign tailored just for you.