Back in the days before the Internet, eBooks, and burgeoning social media, book reviews weren’t terribly important in the marketing scheme for most authors. The supply of books was relatively small, most authors were promoted by a major publisher, and publications like the NY Times Review of Books, New Yorker magazine, and major newspaper book sections were the primary source of book reviews. Readers either bought books written by the major mass market authors or relied on their local bookstore for recommendations.
The market is different today. The number of published authors has skyrocketed. The number of books published annually has increased exponentially. Amazon has become the 800-pound gorilla of the book-selling world. Consumers have turned to posting online reviews of books on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, Kirkus, Barnes & Noble, and even Facebook. Publishers have all but abandoned promoting books for the majority of their authors other than the top tier of bestsellers.
READERS ARE NOW IN CONTROL
Most book buyers and book readers now consult one or more review websites. Popular books receive hundreds, sometimes thousands of reviews. This consensus of popular opinion drives the majority of sales today. YOU, dear readers, collectively dictate who reads what in popular fiction.
A handful of reviews usually indicates the book is new and/or by an unknown author. Ten to 100 reviews indicate an author who has gained some traction or has had that book out for many years and hasn’t garnered much interest. More than 100 reviews and a book has usually earned some critical acclaim, albeit perhaps in a less popular genre.
As important as your online reviews are for well-established authors, they mean the world to authors like myself who aren’t (yet!) best-selling names. Increased reviews correlate closely with increased book sales. Gillian Flynn, John Grisham, JK Rowling, and James Patterson won’t be affected if you don’t buy or review their latest book. They’ll earn tens of thousands of dollars regardless. But lesser-known authors who have written well-crafted books need every review they can get, positive or negative, in hopes of improving their sales
So if you’ve read a book (such as Castle Danger) by a lesser-known author (such as yours truly), please consider posting an online review. Especially if you enjoyed the book, but even if it was less than you’d hoped for. As much as we all want to know who’s writing excellent books these days, we also need to know what books to avoid if they are inferior, so we don’t waste our money.
Online reviews can be quick and easy. Amazon is the primary source of reviews these days. Simply log in, follow the prompts after clicking on “Write a Customer Review,” write a few sentences or a paragraph or two, and post. The procedure is similar for sites like Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or Books-a-million.
If you’ve posted a review anywhere, THANK YOU. If not, please consider doing so. After you’ve posted your review, tell others who’ve read the book how easy it is to help an author. After online reviews, word-of-mouth is still the best advertising, so keep on sharing good books you’ve read with everyone you know.
I’m speaking at my first book club this Thursday, Jan. 26! I look forward to connecting with a group of avid readers. Thanks to loyal fan Julie Strand for hosting.
Also in the incubation stage is a book signing at an Austin, MN bookstore. Details if’/when an event is announced.
Try as I may to get the prequel to Castle Danger published early in 2017, my annoying insistence on producing a high-quality product has forced me to undertake a major rewrite of Straight River. I still intend on publishing it in 2017, but it won’t be for several months at the earliest. It’s frustrating because I’ve had so many Castle Danger fans ask me, “When’s the next book coming out?”
One of the few promises I made to myself when I started writing was to offer for sale a book ONLY when I believe the book is as good as I can make it. I never want to waste my readers’ time or money with a sub-par book. Heaven knows there are thousands of sub-par books (and other products) in the world today. I want Straight River to be as good as or better than Castle Danger. If it takes six months longer than originally planned, so be it.
Have patience, loyal readers.
For more information about my activities and writing, please visit chrisnorbury.com.
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