a weekly or thereabouts posting about writing,
the process, anouncements, and other odd things.


May 17, 2019

Ten Ways to Sell More Books

5. Reviews

Do reviews sell books? Of course, it’s common sense. And numbers count. As humans we have a deeply-rooted tribal nature, and as such, we are easily influenced by fellow tribespeople. If she liked it then it must be good; if he liked it, maybe I’ll buy it… and on and on… Usually this snowball effect is a good thing, unless you’re lemming.

These same evolutionary vestiges are at the root of modern “celebritydom” — something I’ll touch upon in a moment. For now, I’m still baffled as to how and why certain people rise to such a lofty status.

Even bad reviews sell books. Again, numbers count. A book with hundred one-star reviews will sell more than a book with one five-star review (thanks, mom!) All those one stars usually lead to morbid curiosity: Could it really be that bad? Or maybe it’s so bad it’s good. In the best case scenario, someone might rise to your defense or take pity and throw a few extra stars your way.

Keep in mind, even here on Goodreads, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville only gets 3.5 stars. What? Is that possible? It’s best to chill. It’s something you have absolutely no control over. Even Kirkus knows this and they’re happy to hit you up for six hundred bucks— if you ask for their opinion. Life isn’t fair and neither are reviewers:

“The author has poured their heart and soul out in these pages. Musical prose, purposeful plotting, characters so intriguing, I’d invite any of them into my bedroom… Overall a sterling effort, however, the author fails to employ the Oxford Comma. —2 stars.”

Life it seems to have less of an agenda.

If you’re like me and loads of other indie-writers, your reviews are probably scattered across the web, everywhere from Amazon.br to Smashwords. From Kobo to B&N. On Vera’s Book Blog, or the now defunct Borders, even on Goodreads. Numbers count, and you’d have them if all your reviews were in the same place. There’s an idea…

Now on to the holy grail of reviews: the celebrity review! (We all know what Oprah can do.) Of course this has the potential to backfire. Dick Cheney reviewed several of my books and sales plummeted. And this danger increases daily. Many cherished celebs are looking a bit tarnished. It’s probably not a good idea to send a copy of your novel to Judge Roy Moore.

But… Imagine your delight when you wake up one morning to find that none other than Tom Hanks has left a mostly favorable review on Amazon. Wow, surely a ticket to the big time… Wait, he spelled his own name wrong: —Tom Hankz

next week: pricing