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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Do Reviews Affect Overall Book Sales?

Hello Fellow Writers!

I was on the Ellora's Cave chat loop and multi-published, NY Times and USA Today best selling author Allyson James (who also writes as Jennifer Ashley and Ashley Gardner) made some really great comments about how reviews, as heart-breaking or as exhilarating as they may be for us as authors, actually have little impact on sales for that book. I asked Allyson if I could share her comments with you here and she agreed!

Allyson James:
"I've been around the publishing block several times now and have had every reader rating from 5 (this is the best book ever and all other books should cease to be) to a 1 (I took it back to the bookstore and demanded an apology).

"I've had people rip me apart for too much heat, not enough heat (usually about the same book), too much plot/not enough plot (again, same book), dialog, character, word choice, cover model, lettering on the cover, driving distance, you name it. I once had a reader give me a 1-star because my couple wasn't white. I've been trashed on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and Twitter; and have been trashed by RT, Publisher's Weekly, and others, sometimes weeks before the book comes out.

"The point is that having bad reviews hasn't marred my overall career. I've had terrific sales on books that got bad reviews, plus terrific reviews and awards on books that tanked. Many, many bestselling authors out there have had the same experience.

"There are plenty of nasty things that can totally ruin your career (publishers closing, booksellers severely cutting the number of books they carry, readers unable to find your books, pirating, and many, many other uncontrollable factors--isn't that nice to know?), that it’s kind of futile to stress about reviews, good or bad. I know it's hard, but please, please don't let worry over your reviews stop you from writing.

Allyson (been kicked around) James
What do you guys think about reviews - reader reviews, official reviews? Do they make a difference on your decision to read something, or buy something? Authors, do reviews make a difference in your sales?


  1. Great post and from someone who has certainly got the writing experience to tell us how it is. I so agree with the same book getting good/bad, too much heat/not enough heat, it just goes to show you can't please all of the people all of the time.
    Keep writing - best advice ever :-)

  2. Maybe the good reviews help sell the book a little, but it doesn't sound like a bad review is going to hurt you too bad. Good to know. And great advice to let it all slide and just keep writing!

  3. Yeah it's definitely good to hear. I know for me, if I see a bad review but the blurb or excerpt makes me feel like I *need* to read the book, I'll read it anyway...

  4. I think anything is better than no reviews! When I go to Amazon and see no reviews, I think "What, this writer doesn't even have one friend? This must be garbage."

    Great post!

  5. To clarify, my reaction may be completely wrong, but that's what I think every time I see a book that's not reviewed on Amazon, or if I can't find any blog reviews or anything about it.

  6. That's an interesting point, Nora! One problem is that Amazon only lets you review a book you bought through Amazon, and I imagine the author's family and friends have already read the book by the time Amazon is selling it. My books are more expensive on Amazon than on the publisher's website, so I suggest to people that they buy it where they can get it cheapest, lol. Maybe I'm shooting myself in the foot :)

  7. I have to admit, if I read a bad review on Amazon, I might not pick up a copy of a book. That being said, I know everybody has different tastes and you just cannot please some people.

  8. This makes me feel a bit more hopeful as I've recently received some 1 and 2 star reviews. But I also want to solicit reviews and let the pieces fall. A book has to be judged and go through its own trial by fire until, hopefully, the dust settles and things balance out. As a reader, I don't trust any novel that is not a certified classic or masterpiece that has an average 5 star rating. Readers are smart enough to judge for themselves, and amazon offers enough of a view--look inside the book can give most of the first 2 chapters--that readers can make their own decisions.


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