Authors and Publishers Ignore Online Reputation Management at Their Own Peril
As the growing eBook market for fiction overtakes the print sector, traditionally-published and self-published authors face a new marketing issue: reputation.
Not just a specific book's reputation, which historically was set by book reviewers, readers and librarians, but also the author's individual reputation. From authors who go on the attack to dispute negative reviews to a single, wildly-popular book reviewer's thrashing of a self-published novel that triggered readers to give it one-star reviews on Amazon while openly admitting they had not read the novel, all it takes is one bad comment to go viral and in an instant, years of work goes down the Internet rabbit hole.
Online Reputation Management — From Rumor to "Fact" in One Tweet
Online reviews aren't new; Amazon has been using them in some form for nearly fifteen years. The role of reviews has changed dramatically in recent years, though, as reviews drive sales via online bookstores. While the precise tinkerings involved in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and smaller retailers' algorithms aren't publicly known, these algorithms can make or break an author's sales — and reviews are weighted heavily in the algorithms.
Take Amazon's recent Kindle Indie Bookstore, launched on August 10. "Top Rated" books can be featured on the landing page. All twenty featured books have an average of a perfect, five-star rating.
Reviews, therefore, matter.
Reviews Give Instant Feedback — Like it or Not
And reviews play a large role in any eBook author's online reputation these days. It's not enough to write a great book, hire a strong editor, find a solid book designer, format the eBook and upload, any more than it's enough to write a great book, get an agent, sell to a traditional publisher and then sit back. Active reputation management is now a critical marketing tool.
Retails stores and services learned this the hard way in the first decade of the 21st century, when review sites such as Angie's List, HomeStars, Yelp and Google Places developed enormous libraries of reviews for restaurants, plumbers, electricians, dentists, and more. Thinking about getting a massage? Read what 62 customers thought of your local Massage Envy.
Author Reputation Online — Readers and Social Media
Continued on the next page
Want to know more about the author of that great post-apocalyptic zombie take-off on H.G. Wells? Check out social media sites like Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing. Most important, though, is the every-growing network of readers and bloggers who live in the world of books. If one blogger despises your work and posts a negative review blog post, then cross-posts it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, LibraryThing and Goodreads, how do you respond?