I write books and buy books and, needless to say, I read books too. However, at the age of 60 , I can honestly say that I have never read any book reviews that have influenced my decision whether to buy the book in question or not.
As far as I know anyway, because advertisers love to tell their clients about the massive influence and the subconscious effects of advertising, but then they would, wouldn’t they?
Not that I doubt that advertising is effective – you only have to look at the advertising budgets of some companies to see how much store they put by it. Their budgets are larger than some countries’ education bills.
However, I want to talk about book reviews and how they affect people, because they are a form of advertising too.
When you read a good review for a book, does it make you want to read that book and so buy it?
It never has me, because I have always suspected that you need more than to have written a good book to get good book reviews especially in the national newspapers!
Why do they only review books written by authors who have agents and publishers? Beats me, unless it’s some sort of old boys’ network looking after each other.
I’m not sure what it takes, but I can guess: money, owed favours and reciprocal deals at the top of the scale. Book lists can be manipulated too – make no mistake about that!
That is at the top of the tree, but it does not mean that people all the way down the pecking order are not up to scamming as much as they are able to either.
As I said earlier, I write books too – a dozen or so, at the time of writing this article – and I have been in writers’ clubs and mixed with independent writers.
Writers’ clubs definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, organise tit-for-tat deals.
This ranges from the fairly innocuous: ‘I’ll retweet your messages, if you retweet mine’ to ‘I’ll write (or have written) a 5 star for your book, if you do the same for my next one’.
When I was in two such clubs, I participated in the retweeting, but not the book reviews.
I am not saying that all authors are bent, but it is true that all authors want to sell books, even if it is only to get their word out. However, the rewards for selling a book as an Indie (independent) author can easily be $3-$5 a book.
Therefore, selling 1,000 books a month creates financial independence, enabling one to write more books and two books selling 1,000 each a month provides a good living which can be enjoyed on any beach in the world.
The temptation to cheat is therefore quite great, because the rewards are potentially so high.
Now that I am an author, I only believe book reviews, if I know and trust the writers.
Imagine an author dreaming of selling 10,000 books a month at $4 each the next time you read your next book reviews. It might make you wonder who wrote the reviews and whether they actually meant what they wrote or whether it is just part of a reciprocal advertising deal.
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by Mary James