Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Another Alternative

Don't review my books.

"What!" I hear my fellow writers screaming. "Are you mad? Don't you know all writers need reviews?"

Of course I'm not mad, and I fully agree. All writers need reviews. They're not just something to stoke our ego. We've been taught they are vital to building name recognition and driving sales. So, if you choose to ignore what I said above and write a glowing review for any of my books you've read and enjoyed, I certainly won't object and offer my since appreciation.

But the sad truth is a majority of the people who read books--including those who ardently promise to do so--won't write a review. Even if they sincerely want to help you, they won't. Many feel they aren't qualified, don't know how to begin, or just don't have time.

And, even if they do, how much does it really matter?  Most people don't write reviews, nor do they read them. Even the best of reviews are simply one person's opinion. If that person isn't someone a reader knows and/or respects, how much traction is it going to generate among the hundreds of thousands of books published each year? Sure, having 50 or more reviews might spark some interest, have some impact on Amazon's algorithms or gain you admission to Bookbub or one of those other promotional sites primarily geared to giving away books in the hope it will transit to mega-sales.

But, unless you're already a major recognized brand or have a book that's blazing a track across the skies, a review isn't going to do much more than that for you.

Which brings me to advertising. To a certain extent, paid advertising can find you readers. But for the most part you'll be throwing money into a dark hole. Who sponsors your favorite TV show? Better yet--what have you ever bought just because you saw it advertised? It's a rare person who can honestly answer either question.

So, how do we stand out from everyone else and attract those coveted readers?

By cultivating the best form of advertising there is--word of mouth.

Whose word inspires more faith--a family member/close friend or some Madison Avenue advertising hack? The answer is obvious. We take seriously the word of someone we know and trust that a product is worth the money it costs.

A study by McKinsey & Company found word of mouth to be the primary factor in 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

Which would you rather have: Ten reviews by average Joe? Or, ten people telling their friends and family how much they enjoyed your book and urging them to pick up a copy? I know which I'd prefer. Because having those ten people hyping my book is more likely to translate into sales than would the reviews.

I'm not going to turn down anyone who wants to write a review for any of my books. But I'd much rather have them urging the many people they know to buy a copy.