Good Morning. I used to know a man, a college professor, who read book reviews every morning while he drank his coffee. I asked him once if he would ever read all those books. He said, "No, I don't generally read ANY of these books." And I asked, "Then why do you read the reviews?" His answer, "So I'm informed. When I'm out with friends and the discussion of books comes up, which it always invariably does, I can report what I've read and I don't feel stupid."
Once upon a time, in this man's world, that was the sentiment. EVERYONE read book reviews. If you made it to the TIMES, you were golden. Nowadays, even the TIMES won't necessarily warrant a best-seller list.
In today's world, one book review is worth a thousand of your friends talking about your book. In today's world, a good book review and a half dozen sales in one day on Amazon will shoot you up to #10 in a best-seller rank. Sometimes even allow you to get to #1.
However, in today's world, even if you wrote the best book in the whole world, and sold a zillion copies, if you don't have a review on Amazon, you end up languishing in publishing hell. Amazon has changed their algorithms yet again, and for all my ranking of #1 Sunday and Monday with the free promotion of REMEMBERING YOU, because I don't have any reviews, no matter how many copies I sell per day, I have no rank on any list. It's all gone. (As of this posting, I do have one review. And my rank has gone up.)
Before Amazon offered the KDP Select program, people who sold merely 5 copies a day of any book they had could shoot up the best seller lists like nobody's business. I did. I maintained several top ten lists for quite a few weeks, depending on how many copies were sold, and who else had copies sold on the same day.
Heady stuff for a newbie pub like me. Especially with no reviews.
However, with the advent of the KDP Select program all that changed. You could now offer books for free, and in a market filled with authors vying for all the attention they could muster for their books, free became the new black. People were downloading faster than you could say 50 Shades.
But in that gluttony, having a free book out there also brought the attention of those less-than-5 star reviews. Mean reviews, stupid reviews, I-hated-this-book reviews. (Amazon has since changed their view on book reviews and has been taking down the mean spirited ones.)
All that said, this monster called Amazon rules our world, whether we like it or not. It's the biggest and fastest way to get a book out there. More people use Amazon for books (reading or publishing) than any other venue out there.
And in doing so, book reviews are king if you want to get anywhere in publishing. Of course, there's a problem with all 5 star reviews (see Anne R. Allen's post). But one or two 2 stars in a pool of 4 and 5 stars isn't such a bad thing. I should know, I have my fair share across the board.
And I know how exciting and exhilerating it is to offer up your first book into this self-publishing world. Some of you have networks and friends and have all kinds of blogposts and hops and tours lined up. You have no problems getting reviews.
However this lesson is for those of you like me, who don't have that kind of network. Before you upload anything to anywhere, have a couple of reviews in place, ready to go before your launch. I know, I should have, but I didn't. (I tend to go off half-cocked when I'm excited.)
Ask your mother, your friends, your Aunt Alice, the librarian in your hometown. And you know, those people who say those reviews don't count? Well, guess what, they do now. If you want to get anywhere on Amazon, you need a review. And hey, just one counts too. It's all about the rank. No, it's not about sales, it's about your ranking. And one review, even a 3 star will get you ranking on some list.
Tell me -- Do you write reviews of books you like? How about books you don't? Do you write reviews for friends? If not to any of those questions, why not?