Guest post by Victoria Cornwall
I have a confession. As a reader, I rarely left book reviews. In my defence, I did not realise the true value of leaving a review for a product I had bought, yet, perversely, it was other people’s reviews which helped me to decide my next purchase. For years, I did not notice my contradictory behaviour, until one day the tables were turned and I saw it from the other side.
Today, I am a writer and see things very differently. When my debut novel was released in January, I knew that readers would have to take a chance on buying my book because, after all, I was an unknown quantity. For the first time I really appreciated the true worth of reviews, which could help to elevate my book from the billions available to purchase online. It also came as a shock to discover just how few readers left them. I could not blame them as I was like them once. Yet, I like to think that if someone had pointed out to me why it was so important, I would have done it before now … and happily so. Just a line or two to say that I enjoyed it, nothing too detailed that would take up my time.
So how does it help an author? Although it is always lovely to hear that a reader has enjoyed a book, a review does far more than stroke an author’s ego. As mentioned before, book reviews help readers to decide their next purchase. The more positive reviews a book has, the more confidence a potential purchaser has to buy it.
What then? Well, the more sales a book gets, the more likely the publisher will publish the author’s next book. If a book does not sell well, another book contract may not be offered or the print run will end. Either way, the author is at risk of being cut adrift. The book trade is a business, not a creative utopia where people indulge in their hobby of writing. In the end, despite a writers “need” to be creative, success and longevity of a writing career depends on sales. But it’s poor quality books that don’t sell. Right? Perhaps … but not always. I believe that many amazing books disappear below the surface, simply because of the lack of regular reviews, which tempt people to buy it. It is a mystery why some books take off and others don’t, but what I do know is that without reviews, a good book will fade into obscurity.
I believe that having a steady stream of new reviews is also helpful as potential purchaser are more likely to buy a book with the more recent reviews as opposed to an older book that has not been reviewed for two years. I don’t have any statistics to back up this theory, just a gut feeling, after all, how many times have we made a beeline for the “newly arrived” fashion rail in a shop and ignored the last season’s rail, despite all the rails having similar clothes. Perhaps there is something in our DNA that makes us want to be a part of what is on trend at the moment and what everyone is talking about.
So if you like a book and would like to read more from that author, please leave a review on the retail site where you purchased it. It does not have to be in depth and, in most cases, one sentence will be adequate. Just give your opinion, in an objective way, which is not tainted by the fact that your dog has just been sick on the carpet. Also bear in mind that you are reviewing the novel, not the retail site or their delivery standards. The author has no control over them and is as much at their mercy as you are.
As for seasoned bloggers, I have little advice to give and am in awe of the amount of time and effort they put into their blogs and reviews. My only advice is that writers often use a quote from a good review to help promote their book, so I recommend adding a phrase that can be easily quoted. I often quote lines from reviews and reference the source, therefore advertising the blog in return. Reviews are all about paying it forward, and I, as an author, am happy to do my bit for the blogger.
You, as a reader, have the power to support quality books so they can rise to the surface of the ever expanding fiction quagmire that can be found on the internet. Do I leave reviews for the books I read now? Yes, of course I do, as I understand their true value as, to a writer, they are worth their weight in gold.
About Victoria Cornwall
Victoria Cornwall grew up on a farm in Cornwall. She can trace her Cornish roots as far back as the 18th century and it is this background and heritage which is the inspiration for her Cornish based novels.
Victoria is married, has two grown up children and a black Labrador, called Alfie. She likes to read and write historical fiction with a strong background story, but at its heart is the unmistakable emotion, even pain, of loving someone.
Following a fulfilling twenty-five year career as a nurse, a change in profession finally allowed her the time to write. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Historical Novel Society. The Thief's Daughter is a contender for the Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award, which will be presented on May 18th in London.
The Thief’s Daughter is her debut novel and the first in a series of Cornish based novels.
Books by Victoria
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The Thief's Daughter was nominated for the Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award.