I once had a conversation with a guy who runs a small press who told me that reviews make no difference to sales. I can’t remember the exact details but his experience was that a book had received a good review in a wide circulation magazine and he’d noticed no increase in sales. Now one review does not make a summer; or something like that anyway. We might assume that a series of reviews will have greater impact but that alone won’t do it.
I recently heard that I’ve had a new review in Deosil Dance magazine but I don’t expect it to make that much difference on its own. (That’s assuming that the review is positive as I haven’t seen it yet.) However, when the next order of books comes through, and I start mailing out samples to pagan book shops—hopefully in time for the Xmas rush, I’ll enclose the press cuttings and perhaps it will make a difference. A book in a shop is worth two in the Amazon bush; or something like that.
People are like sheep and that’s not to insult people. I’m sure I’ve met some very nice sheep and any aspersions on my character regarding my relationship with sheep are purely scurrilous. But basically we, like sheep, are social animals so we depend on the opinions of others to help us make judgements. It’s not a perfect system but it probably allowed our society to grow in primitive times by sharing the responsibility of making judgements of new situations.
So big publishers take advantage of this and have concerted campaigns by getting reviews at the same time as organising TV appearances, buying space on bus shelters, etc. Of course small publishers can’t do that but to say that reviews do nothing is to give up. However, using press clippings constructively, doing parallel Facebook campaigns or Google ads, perhaps even viral marketing, all these are within our means; they just take time.
So when a new book hits the market we can’t make judgements without information to go on, but with a little bit of help, perhaps a concerted effort and some planning we can make a decision whether it’s worth shagging that sheep.
In the absence of the specific review here’s a link to other information on said book including links to previous reviews, Facebook, Twitter and other stuff.