It’s been preached that indie authors need reviews to sell books. It’s even been coined, the social proof for authors. After all, we need to control our rankings and open a dialog with our readers like this author, who offers refunds and responds kindly to people who hate her work.
The day I released my YA novel, one author congratulated me then, told me I need way more reviews on my Amazon page. I did what I could, I bugged people on Facebook and Twitter all the while, feeling like a beggar and wondering, do the NY big 5 have to go through this?
But instead of reviews, I would get emails, or direct messages where people would compliment me on my book. That was nice but not what I wanted. Lowering my standards, I asked them to review it anywhere they wanted whether it be; Goodreads, Shelfari, Library Thing, or Barnes & Noble and still, nothing!
I figured, well maybe people are BSing me and don’t really like my book, so I went back and looked at all the people who purchased my book and told me they liked it. I carefully explained my predicament, and they made it up to me big time by giving my book a huge “like” or a 5 star rating, but still no reviews!
The Real Reason Nobody is Leaving Reviews
- Some readers don’t write or spell well and don’t want to be embarrassed. Damn you Grammar Nazis, damn you to hell!
- They’re lazy and just don’t care about YOUR reviews.
- They only leave reviews when something is wrong.
- They hate your book. (Obviously!)
Reviews Losing Their Importance?
I’m probably putting my book in severe danger by saying this but here it goes, I’ve noticed that reviews really aren’t helping authors sell their books. In fact, Penny Sansevieri book marketer and author changed her marketing services which now focus less on reviews because according to her, “Reviews are great but do they drive traffic and sell books? We haven’t seen the return on investment in that regard.”
Yay! I think.
Bad Means Good, WTH?
Back in the 80’s if someone said you were bad, that was a compliment and today, the same seems to hold true for book reviews. According to one author in my Facebook writer’s group, bad reviews seem to drive his sales. It sounds strange but think about, Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James has tons of negative reviews, most of them on the first few pages, ditto for Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling which roughly has 805 one star ratings. However, both books sold millions worldwide.
So the good news is, we don’t have to stress over getting tons of reviews to show people our book’s worthiness though, that doesn’t exempt us from not trying to get at least a few. It also tells us that paying for reviews from places like Publisher’s Weekly’s Select or Kirkus aren’t economically wise because even these authors didn’t see any difference in their sales.
The key to book marketing seems to be getting in front of a large audience of readers whether that be a blog, podcast or magazine because book reviews alone are not enough, at least, not anymore.
Now it’s time for you to sound off, I’m curious to know: do reviews equal more book sales for you? And do negative reviews hold more sway than positive ones?