I’m feeling the love at recent book signings (excellent sales in my opinion), but the online reviews, reviews, REVIEWS for Straight River are lagging the pace of those for Castle Danger at a similar point after each book launch. I’m certainly gratified for the kind reviews that have been posted. Unfortunately, for most authors these days, online reviews are nearly as important for generating book sales as word-of-mouth advertising used to be. There are far too many people who simply won’t buy a book because they checked Amazon or Goodreads and saw that the book they were interested in only had a handful of reviews. For reference, a “handful” is generally less than ten but can be less than 20, 30 even 50. Compare that to established, bestseller-type authors who routinely receive hundreds if not thousands of reviews. Not a fair fight.
The simple fact is, most readers want to know that they’re not the only one who took a chance on an author who isn’t a bestseller. Even if they borrowed the book from a library or a friend!
If they hear about a new book or one by an unknown author, but they check the reviews and only see 5 or 10, they probably won’t buy that book. The star ratings don’t even matter! I’ve seen lots of books at the online rating sites with a small number of reviews and all or nearly all are 5-star reviews/ratings! Go figure.
I can’t in good conscience require anyone to post a review as a condition of reading my book. Amazon even has a policy of policing reviews for those they believe are either purchased by the author or have been posted by friends or acquaintances of the author who were coerced into posting a review by that author. All I can do is politely ask you to post a review, good or bad. Think of it both as a right of you the book buyer/reader and as a payback to the author. A right because you paid good money and used many hours of your valuable free time to read that book. A payback because if you enjoyed the book to any degree, or if it made you ponder some universal truth or human condition/experience, you can show appreciation for the author by posting a short, honest review on one of the main review sites such as Goodreads.com or Amazon.com.
If I’ve made you feel properly guilty, here’s an easy guide to posting an online review at the major review sites. The nice thing is that you can copy and paste the same review to any site you wish. My two favorites are Goodreads.com and Amazon.com. But if you bought your book from, say, Barnes & Noble, it’s good karma to post a review on their website too.
Great Fun at Saturday’s Book Events
Saturday, May 4 was a big day because I had two book signing for Straight River. The first was at Chapter 2 Books in Hudson WI. I sold a nice quantity of books, met some lovely new fans (I hope) and connected with a new writing colleague whom I met at the UW Writers’ Institute last month. He’s working on a historical fiction book and I won’t be surprised if he gets it published someday. The owners, Sue and Brian Roegge, are huge supporters of books and literacy and promote local authors on a regular basis, either at their store or at area libraries. They also have a nice selection of local and regional authors in many genres.
Later that day I realized a dream and did a signing at Once Upon a Crime in south Minneapolis.
It’s one of the coolest bookstores around and filled with every sort of mystery/suspense/thriller/crime novel you can imagine. My brother-in-law stopped by as well as an old classmate from grade school/junior high/high school. In addition, I made several more new fans/readers and sold a copy of Straight River to a gentleman who’d read Castle Danger and liked it enough to buy my new book. The owner, Meg Abraham, is as gracious a host as there is and truly loves her store’s genre. If you love mysteries or similar, it’ll be well worth your time to make a trip to OUAC. It was interesting to me that I sold about an equal number of copies of both books. I figured Straight River would be more popular because it’s the newer book of the two.
It was also cool that several customers who couldn’t be there had requested autographed copies to be set aside so they could come into the store at a later date. Another fun part of that event was sharing a table with a new friend and writing colleague, Julie Holmes, who was signing copies of her debut novel, Murder in Plane Sight. (No typo. The protagonist is a female airplane mechanic. How’s that for a unique heroine?)
I get to take a breath this week, but I jump back into the book-signing routine on Saturday, May 18. I’ll be in Hopkins MN at their annual Mainstreet Day street fair and festival on Main St. between about 7th and 12th Avenues. I’ll have a booth there, rain or shine, so stop by if you live in the west or south metro area or happen to be in the neighborhood that day. The event runs from 9:00-4:00, so you’ll have plenty of time to track me down.
See my Events and Appearances Page for all the details.