Reviews–Do They Matter?

I hope so, because BookSpeak! is definitely getting more buzz than Stampede! did. But Stampede got some lovely posts online from wonderful poetry people, a nice review in Booklist, and was a Minnesota Book Award Finalist. And it didn’t matter, sales-wise. I’d pull out my royalty statements for proof, but they’re so tear-stained I probably couldn’t read the exact numbers. Let’s just say it has sold fewer copies than the current year–seriously.

I so appreciated the people who did and who continue to advocate for Stampede, and its very low sales were a sad pill to swallow. I felt like I let down Clarion.

Now BookSpeak has been reviewed more places–Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus (which did review Stampede but slammed it), Booklist, and The Bulletin, plus some terrific blog reviews–this time from many people I don’t even know. That’s always a fantastic shock. And it’s been named a Finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Yippee!

I LOVE good reviews! “There’s one person who likes my book,” I think, when I read one. But how much difference do they make in actual sales? I have no idea. Individuals and libraries and schools are struggling financially, so the decisions they make on how to spend their small budgets are complicated.

I would love to have BookSpeak at least earn out its advance, which Stampede isn’t even close to doing. So, fingers crossed. And, I need to figure out how to maximize reviews’ impact, too. Other than sharing them in online notebooks (BookSpeak!, Stampede!, A Leaf Can Be…), I haven’t reallly used them for marketing. Maybe next week we can talk about what I should be doing with them!

Do you think reviews play a very big role in book sales? Any stories you’d like to share?

2 Responses

  1. I think reviews matter somewhat–my new book was reviewed (with two other prickly books) in the NYT last month and sales seemed to jump. But then I went to my local B&N and found they’d put their 3 copies straight onto the shelves, face in, where hardly anyone is likely to see them. Frustrating! Poetry is obviously a tough market, but I do think certain people care deeply about poetry and go looking for it. (Which reminds me, I recently ordered your book, A Leaf Can Be! Beautiful!)

  2. I think reviews matter somewhat–my new book was reviewed (with two other prickly books) in the NYT last month and sales seemed to jump. But then I went to my local B&N and found they’d put their 3 copies straight onto the shelves, face in, where hardly anyone is likely to see them. Frustrating! Poetry is obviously a tough market, but I do think certain people care deeply about poetry and go looking for it. (Which reminds me, I recently ordered your book, A Leaf Can Be! Beautiful!)

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