The other day I was chatting with a friend (who also happens to be a very, very talented author) and I was telling her how much I admired her latest collection. (Surrounded by Water by Stefanie Freele by the way. I highly recommend it. Flash fiction at its best.) Near the end of the conversation, she asked whether I would do her a small favor.
“Sure,” I told her. “What was it?”
“Could you post a review on Amazon?”
“Of course I will.”
And I did. As quickly as possible. And if I could have done some sort of penance I would have, because I, of all people, should have known better. Because I am a writer. I have checked Amazon at least once a day after releasing a work to see whether any new reviews had shown up. I know how this works.
I am a writer.
As a writer, I should know that, especially for small press and independent authors, the difference between a sale and a pass for a less-than-famous author is a good review. Or a collection of good reviews. It is the most far-reaching version of word-of-mouth advertizing. And any marketing expert will tell you there is no advertizing that is more cost-effective than word-of-mouth.
I am embarrassed because she had to ask me for a review. I am embarrassed because I hadn’t done it already. I am embarrassed because I should have known better.
We small-to-mid-range authors need to stick together. We need to help each other out. We need to post reviews.
Don’t get me wrong, honesty is important. However dear a friend Author X is, don’t post a review claiming he’s the next James Joyce if he actually writes like a sixth grader. That will only anger the reader who does buy the book. Not only will Author X lose all credibility, but you will too.
However, should you discover a talented, young, or overlooked author, by all means post a review of their work on Amazon, Goodreads, and every other portal you can find. You may not personally hear from them, but believe me, they are thankful.
And some day, when your book is launched out into the great cold marketplace, struggling to gain notice, perhaps someone will do the same for you. Someone will give it a good review.