March 24th, 2010


Amazon Reviews

A reader named G. Guthrie from Columbus, Ohio has left a very nice review of Chasing the Dragon on Amazon, concluding with:

This is an excellent urban fantasy/horror story - I really liked it and it is easily recommended.

Now, I'm always excited when a reader leaves a positive Amazon review of a book of mine, but I often wonder if they do all that much to increase sales. Reviews of electronics, appliances, even clothing? Those definitely help, because those reviews focus more on the nitty-gritty, like whether the product actually works, how well made it is, if there are less expensive versions available that are just as good or better, etc. But with something like a book (or a movie, or a CD) the reviews are naturally more colored by personal taste, and are even used sometimes to air personal grievances ("The author is mean on message boards!") and agendas ("I didn't read this book because it's too expensive! Why are books so expensive? ONE STAR!").

Back when my collection Walk In Shadows first came out, I invited my LJ readers to write jokey reviews of the book on Amazon as an experiment. They could claim it cured their diseases or washed their dishes for them or whatever they wanted--the only rule was that they could not actually pan the book if they hadn't read it and legitimately disliked it. After the reviews went up, sales of the book neither spiked nor plummeted. As far as I could tell, the reviews had no affect on sales at all. Granted, this was hardly a scientific experiment, but at the time it seemed to prove the point that Amazon reviews were kind of moot.

This doesn't mean I'm not pleased as punch when someone like G. Guthrie takes the time to write and post a review of one of my books. Heck, I wish more people would do it! I should probably do it more myself! But I do wonder if anything has changed since my experiment, and if positive Amazon reviews translate into bigger sales numbers. Does anybody know for sure?