Getting reviews is crucial to the success of your book. Take what happened to the novel "The Stolen Child". The following is an extract taken from Steven Weber, a bestseller author, who takes up the story:
When Keith Donohue's novel "The Stolen Child" came out, the critics weren't impressed, even though his publisher was Nan Talese at Doubleday. In fact, not a single major newspaper reviewed the book. Ask any big publisher, and they'll tell you: A novel stiffed by the critics has no chance of becoming a bestseller.
But the story wasn't over. A review copy ended up in the hands of Linda Porco, Amazon.com's merchandising director. She passed it around in the office and everyone loved it. So Porco tried something new. She got more copies of the book and mailed them to Amazon's most active customer reviewers, the ones who review books on the site as a hobby, assigning five stars to books they love and one star to books they hate, and providing essays explaining why.
Within weeks, all but one of those Amazon Top Reviewers posted a rave review. Promptly, Stolen Child became Amazon's bestselling fiction book, and it reached No. 26 on the New York Times extended bestseller list, an unbelievable climb for a novel with no big newspaper or trade reviews. Now the book is in its eighth printing and the story is being shopped to Hollywood. And, oh yeah, now Stolen Child has plenty of professional reviews.
All this caused quite a stir in publishing circles, but it didn't surprise the folks who actually buy books. Increasingly, readers turn to online reviews written by peers to find out if a book is worth buying.
Critics argue that amateurs' reviews are meaningless, that they don't apply the professional critics' intellectual rigor. But whatever the amateur reviewers do or don't lack in highbrow sensibilities, they make up for in credibility and relevancy.
Good reviews on Amazon are particularly crucial for books by new authors and for niche books, and it stands to reason that they boost sales not only at that site but everywhere people are buying books, although we don't yet know what percentage of buyers at brick-and-mortar bookstores made their choice by reading Amazon customer reviews.