In the twenty-first century, book marketing increasingly includes online book reviews. These reviews are written by ordinary people who read books and want to share their views honestly, as part of a community.

Before buying a book, or even borrowing a book from a library, readers increasingly turn to online book reviews. Publishers now send advance reading copies to online "amateur" reviewers as well as official reviewers of print and radio media.

Why do some books get bad reviews? Here are three questions that assess your book's marketability, the single most important predictor of a five-star book review.

First, is it hard to figure out where your book should be shelved?

The clearer your answer, the more likely your book will get good reviews and sell well. If you say, "Well, there are two possible places..." you lower the odds of a good review. That's because readers and reviewers like to feel they can categorize your book before they buy it.

Therefore, you need to be very clear about your book's genre: mystery, science fiction, biography, science, or literary fiction. In some genres you need to be even more specific. For instance, if you are writing a mystery, can your book be read as a cozy or a thriller? Readers of both sub-genres consider themselves mystery fans but they may not like both.

Mixing genres can work if you are especially skilled in some fields. For instance, some best-sellers cross the line between literary fiction and detective story. But if you mix self-help with memoir, readers will rebel.

Second, will the reader know your value system before choosing the book?

For instance, are you promoting a nutrition book that depends on using very specific formulas or foods? Make sure your reader anticipates these orientations.

Readers know in advance whether they want to get their self-help, fiction, or memoir mixed with a dose of spirituality. They know what kind of spirituality they prefer. When you write a business book that includes many references to religious values, make sure your readers know before they choose your book, whether they buy, borrow from a library, or select from a review list.

Third, do you know who will read this book?

Answer this question with reference to other books.

For instance, if you are writing a cozy mystery, you might say, "Followers of M.C. Beaton and Rhys Bowen will like this book." Recently I reviewed The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar, a Columbia University professor. I would say that this book targets readers who can't wait for the next book by Malcolm Gladwell or Atul Gawande.

Author's Bio: 

If you begin with a good book, you will have no trouble getting reviews from experienced, qualified reviewers... if you apply just a few easy strategies. Dr. Cathy Goodwin, a prolific online book reviewer and published author, has written a guide to increase your odds of getting reviews. Download your FREE tips to getting online book reviews.