If you've connected with authors on social media no doubt occasionally you'll have seen them share about reviews. Good reviews, bad reviews, and occasionally semi-desperate request for any review at all - good, bad or otherwise! Whenever one of the latter crossed my newsfeed I used to squint at the screen and wonder what was driving the plea to the internet for someone, anyone!, to put their words on Amazon, or GoodReads, or a slew of other sites.
Then I got a book contract and discovered the strange, but undeniable, fact that even a slew of flaming-make-your-eyes-water-one-star reviews are BETTER than no reviews at all.
Here's a few reasons why:
Amazon doesn't show a book to customers until it has at least 25 reviews. Who hasn't scrolled through their "recommended for you" list and added books that caught their eye to their wishlist or bought a few outright? I know that I certainly have. On sites like Amazon where there are literally millions of titles, discoverability by your target audience is the difference between a book doing well and sinking without a trace.
People often buy a book based on the one or two star reviews. A lot of customers a wary of the glowing five-star reviews, especially in the early days of a book's release. They assume those reviews come from doting parents and friends. I once bought a book that lambasted a book for its "bad language, lust and drinking". Having read a lot of books by that traditional Christian publisher and knowing there was no chance they'd suddenly descended into dropping the f word, explicit sex scenes, and drunken debauchery I bought it just to see what had so enraged that particular reader. As a result I discovered a new favourite author (and found myself terribly confused as to what all the fuss was about. It was two years later that someone finally enlightened me that in some parts of America the phrase "grow some balls" is considered cussing).
People don't buy books with hardly any reviews. What are you more likely to buy? A book that has three extensive reviews or a book that has thirty mixed reviews? Often reviews tell you more about the person writing them than the book itself but they always tell you something.
So, on behalf of authors everywhere, if you ever see a book you enjoyed languishing on a site with hardly any reviews please please take the time to pen a few words :)
What about you? Do you read reviews? Write reviews? How do they impact what you buy or read (or not)?
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her debut romantic comedy, Close To You, is about a disillusioned academic-turned-tour-guide and an entrepreneur who knows nothing about Tolkien who fall in love on a Tolkien themed tour of New Zealand. It will be an April 2016 release from Howard Books. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connnect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Writer and Twitter @KaraIsaac