Do Reviews Sell Books? – Andrew Crofts

Following Sandra’s Horn’s post last week, “That Selling Thing”, I thought it might be useful to consider whether good reviews actually sell books.

A few months ago I blogged here about producing a hardback of my novella, Secrets of the Italian Gardener through Red Door Publishing, and hiring Midas PR to send copies out to the traditional book reviewing marketplace in the same way they would send a new book from one of the traditional publishers – a copy of the book plus a press release.

The book had received plenty of reviews on Amazon but I know that it needs to get “out there” more.

Midas, who are probably the biggest and most successful PR consultancy in the publishing business, did exactly as they were asked and then there was the sort of silence that you would expect to happen while the reviewers read the book, wrote their reviews and their editors considered whether to run them.

A couple of months later a nice review appeared in the Daily Mail Literary Fiction section – huge international circulation because of the whole “Mail On-line” phenomenon. Then a good, short review in The Lady magazine. These were then joined by an absolutely brilliant piece on the excellent Vulpes Libris literary blog, I truly could not have asked for a better review.

It’s still early days and there may well be more coverage in the pipeline, but if not then I have to consider how valuable these have been. There has been no immediate impact on sales that I can discern, but I still think the exercise was worth doing. I now have some cracking quotes to add to the Amazon reviews on my website and anywhere else where the book is being promoted. They add credibility to the project if not actual sales. The Vulpes Libris piece has also been taken up by other blogs, meaning that it is reaching yet more “eyeballs”.

I guess creating a reputation for a book is like building a wall, one brick at a time, and each good review is one more brick in that wall, until eventually you reach a critical mass and the wall becomes visible to the naked eye.

There is also the bonus of having one’s morale lifted, if only temporarily, with this evidence that there are other people out there who do not think I have completely wasted my time in writing this story.

The most obvious lesson, however, is that reviews alone are not going to bring a book to the necessary “tipping point” of bestsellerdom, no matter how glowing they may be, and authors have to be continually thinking of new ways to spread the word.

I’m thinking now about Bookbub. Does anyone out there have experiences of that service, either good or bad?  


Wendy H. Jones said…
Thanks for sharing this. It is interesting to see how well books do following reviews in established media.
Lydia Bennet said…
I think John Logan is the Bookbub master hereabouts! Very few authors employ professional PR firms so that's also an experiment, you'd have to take into account the amount you paid them to send out the review copies. If sales aren't helped, that's surely going to be a loss when you take the PR fee into consideration? Let us know if it's worthwhile,maybe next time!
Umberto Tosi said…
Thank you for a timely post, from my perspective. I'm building one of those walls, brick by brick, right now. I'm likewise, that reviews bring uneven results, as nice as they are to garner. It's not how many, but who and where that seem to count most.

Popular posts

A Few Discreet Words About Caesar's Penis--Reb MacRath

Meet Author Virginia Watts, a Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award, and Find Out How She Does What She Does

Last Chapter?

I Wish I May, I wish I Might... Understand What These Writers Are Saying says Griselda Heppel

As Time Goes By