Many writers, myself included, have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. We love how easy it makes it for folks to buy books; we don’t love the impact that has on our local independent bookstores. I want to say this loud and clear: Support your local independent bookstores! They are essential to your community and to a civilized society.
All that being said, it is absolutely imperative that writers have Amazon reviews. Not only is it important to have them, it is necessary to reach the magic number of 50 reviews ASAP after your book launches. Why? Because at the fifty-comment point, Amazon starts advertising your book. This makes a huge difference in book sales.
So here comes the part where I plead for reviews from my readers and Facebook followers. Seriously, If you liked the book, please leave a comment and some stars. As a former English teacher who graded a ton of papers, I can swear that there’s ALWAYS something to like about a piece of writing, or in this case, a book. There’s voice, there’s setting, and there are characters.
A big question I get all the time is this: ”Do I have to buy the book on Amazon in order to write a review?” The answer is no. All you have to have is an active Amazon account and to have spent at least fifty dollars in the last year on that account. If you have bought the book on Amazon, your review, and by a review I mean a three-sentence comment is all that’s necessary, the words ‘verified buyer’ will appear by your review.
How important is this verified buyer notation? With a book, not so much. Books get passed around all the time, checked out of the library, or given as gifts. Kitchen appliances, blenders, and food processors are a whole other matter. That’s when the ‘verified buyer’ notation really kicks in.
My preference, of course, is that you purchase my book from an independent bookstore and then review on Amazon. Here’s a secret. The fact is, I don’t even always do that myself. I’m a big Kindle fan, frankly. I don’t have enough bookcase space for all the books I read.
Under normal, circumstances, I would have gotten this review-begging process started earlier before my launch by sending out ARCs — advanced reader copies. Why didn’t I? Because Santa Fe, where I live, was in complete lock-down due to COVID. My ARCs arrived in the middle of December, in the middle of a frightening, second surge of COVID. There was no way I was going to take a pile of books to the post-office, stand in line, and expose myself or my family to COVID. In fact, I wasn’t even fully vaccinated until the end of April, about three weeks before my book launched. To make matters worse, bookstores around here were still closed even then.
I am super grateful that we all made it through this horrible pandemic, that things are beginning to open up again, that the fully-vaccinated seem to be quite protected from the virus, and that life is starting to seem normal once more. In fact, after I write this, I’m heading out to my local independent bookstore Collected Works to give them some signed copies of Del Rio. I’m also going to have a coffee there and take some time to write up the scene I’m working on for my new book in my notebook. I haven’t written in a café in over a year and a half. It will be a thrill.