Since I want to do everything I can to support my published friends, I buy their books, but that isn't enough these days. They've never asked me to review their books, but I try to remember to review them on Amazon because I've heard that honest reviews can help them sell more books, but I wonder if they're really useful or even read. I couldn't help but wonder if reviews were really worth the effort. I turned to some publishing professionals to ask their opinion.
Helen Breitwieser agent with Cornerstone Literary: “Yes of course! Lots of enthusiastic reviews will generate interest. A reader who is browsing titles is more likely to linger on a page if the book has a unique cover, an intriguing title, and/or lots of praise. All those elements influence a potential reader's decision to buy a book, especially by a new author.”
Marisa Corvisiero: L. Perkins Literary: “The answer is a resounding YES. I think that many readers buy from Amazon because of the reviews... sort of an assurance that they are buying something worth reading. I'm personally one of them. I've often found myself at B&N looking at a book and waited to get home to check out the review on amazon.”
Michael Braff—editor Del Rey: “I have mixed feelings about Amazon reviews. On the one hand, we have seen some titles that get amazing reviews but don’t really sell, but the inverse is also true, with poorly-reviewed books selling well. Personally, I don’t think that any reviews really sell a book in today’s market: relatively few readers actually read book reviews (there are exceptions, of course, like Romance Times), and I feel like they mostly come off as “white noise” for potential buyers: it is assumed that every book is going to feature some fantastic quotes so they just don’t even register with the reader, like a commercial or a pop-up ad.
But that’s just my personal take. I think that the place where Amazon reviews are especially helpful is actually in the realm of social networking, allowing authors to read exactly what their readers think, and opening up a dialogue between the two. With more and more authors relying on their social connection with fans, this is perhaps the one area where Amazon reviews are indispensable.”
Sue Grimshaw past Borders romance buyer , current editor at Ballantine, Bantam, Dell: “Thinking of when I was on the bookseller end of the biz it always seemed beneficial to have as much exposure to a book - good & bad --- so yes, it builds awareness, and the average consumer does use these suggestions & reviews to make their buying decisions.”