I got a customer review on Smashwords a few days ago for Tinker’s Tale. Someone I don’t know (at least I don’t think I know) not only purchased, but took time to read my story, and even more: He returned to the site where he bought it, and added a note that he liked what he read. Maybe I shouldn’t be so excited about it: seven words I, all of them favorable. I attribute it to new author jitters. Once one is a well-established author one is much too cool to be unreasonably happy about something like that.
Maybe I don’t want to be well established then. I like being happy.
The way the market is these days, or maybe I should say, this day, reviews are gold. Has anyone else noticed that there are thousands of books on Smashwords? Anyone with a computer and a manuscript can publish there. (I’m not making a judgment, it’s just the way it is.) Even publishing companies are opening up, with an e-book there’s very little overhead. It’s a relatively small investment, and if it happens to pay off, which doesn’t have to be as much before the break even stage, all the better. Paper books are carefully chosen and vetted, finely printed and aggressively marketed. E-books are scattergunned at potential customers with hopes that some of them will stick.
So customers are changing the way they shop for books, that is to say, ebooks. A good title helps, it’s a first impression, as well as good cover art (though on most e-book sites the cover art about the size of a postage stamp). But there are so many, many to choose from. One can look at page after page after page after page… well, you get the point. So how does one know whether a book might be something one likes? There are some hints; the blurb, an excerpt, but the best place is a review. Someone else read this story, and they liked it. Every word written from one reader to another can persuade; it’s this kind of book, this kind of story, “I liked it because…” Quality control is on the other end now. Good books get recommended. As readers it’s something I hope we take seriously.
… but really, I just like to hear that someone actually liked what I wrote.