Sunday, 8 June 2014

to review or not...

Is it really necessary to get reviews, elicit reviews, pay for reviews or beg for them?

Writing the book is the fun part, but the advertising of the thing is a drag. There is no magic wand these days that lets the world know of the next masterpiece. It is all up to a few good souls to spread the word.
So who are those that care? If you have a BIG publishing house then they have a section for just the type of hype you need. If you have a small publishing house (or flat/unit/loft) then all the publicity is taken care of by one or two people. If you do it alone then ...guess who?
Reviews of your book are seen as a necessary thing. The recommendation of someone anonymous seems to carry weight. To elicit reviews in the hope of sales is a lottery at best.
Are the reading public like sheep.
Are we so swayed by what others think that as readers we wont take a punt on something, go for broke on a new idea, have a bash at a book that has a good cover. I think the reader can make up their own mind.
Is it a new thought that you don't need a review to tell others what they should read. Sure word of mouth is the best advertising there is. The ad men tell us so. But that may work fine for a washing machine. Books are so personal. Do you like murder. Do you crave romance. Hot sex. African tribal tattoos and cute animals. We all have a different idea on how a book affects us and effects us. Reading a review is just an opinion.
Not really necessary.
Matt Haig said that he had a big machine doing all the right things to get his new book out there, but it was a tweet from Stephen Fry that sent it through the roof. Of course this flies in the face of what I have just said.
But Stephen OMG Fry. Celebrity status carries weight. Celebrity culture makes us believe that we actually know the person. We live vicariously. So if they like it and we like them and know them so well, ergo we will like it too. It is a persuasive argument for the sheeple of the world.
But the other 60 % who don't follow Stephen Fry will be individual in their reading habits. They will buy on the synopsis, the cover, the authors name or just take a punt. They won't be swayed by what others have read. What others say is good, bad, indifferent. They are the readers that make up their own mind.
So should authors rely on reviews to get them over the tax threshold?
I'd say they are nice, ego boosting (most of the time) little pats on the back. But selling points? No.
Some authors don't even read their reviews.
So don't sweat the reviews. If you have a good product it will sell, be read, enjoyed and passed around.
And readers...if you read anything you like don't leave a review, send a letter to the author and tell them. A fan letter is worth a hundred reviews.

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