According to Nielsen, 149,800 new titles were published in the UK in 2011. Goodreads, who were presenting at the London Book Fair, said that the USA saw 350,000 new titles in the same year.
How on earth do my titles get found in all that mass of the good, the bad and the indifferent?
The answer, according to Goodreads, is online reviews. 39% of books are now sold online. When readers come to choose a book, word of mouth is obviously very important. Beyond that, though, they are largely driven by the online reviews. Everyone has heard of the success of 50 Shades of Grey. It's far from the best of the books of its kind, but it did generate a lot of interest online. Reviews draw attention to a book. More reviews means that the book is more likely to feature high on Amazon's list of recommendations. Reviews get you read.
To get the sort of momentum that started Fifty Shades rolling, you want 200 or more reviews. But even 20 or 30 reviews will make a big difference.
If everyone who had told me that they will post reviews of my books had done so, I would easily have 20 or 30 reviews. It would make a difference.
I can understand why people don't post reviews. It's something that they haven't done before and it takes time out from their day. They're not sure how to do it. In the end, though, it's easy and quite fun. Plus, my experience is that if you get into the habit of writing reviews you will find yourself being sent free books so that you can review them as well. I've come across some interesting authors in this way and some good work that I would not otherwise have seen.
If you have ever bought anything from Amazon, you will have an Amazon account. All you have to do is to log in to your account, go to the book you want to review and scroll down the page until you get to the "Customer Reviews" section. At the top of that there is a large friendly button that says, "Write a customer review” or “Create your own review”. Click on it. Rate the book (I know – the star system is horrible, but 5* books get read). Write the review in the box and click "Preview your review”. You will need to click this – you can't post a review without previewing it. Then click on ‘Publish Review’ and there you are! Everyone’s a critic.
If you really have no idea what to say, I've posted examples of the sort of comments I've had on my books HERE and HERE.
You can post the same review on Goodreads. You’ll need to join (it’s free), but that’s worth it as Goodreads offers a lot of help in choosing books. For some reason, there are usually more reviews on Goodreads and the quality of reviews is, I think, better than those you’ll see on Amazon.
Please review my books and other books you read that aren't getting massive promotional support in WH Smiths and Waterstones. A very few books get serious promotion. The rest are relying on word-of-mouth and, increasingly, that means online reviews. Give the authors a break. If you like them, tell everyone.