Word of mouth and the need for reviews.
I was commiserating with an author published by a small press who said, “Small press books without a lot of push behind them don’t get noticed.” I replied: “If it’s any consolation, traditionally published books don’t always get a lot of push either, hence all my efforts with The Amber Crown.”
And it’s true. When my first book, Empire of Dust, came out I didn’t realise how much work I needed to do. I naively thought that getting a book published was my ultimate goal, but that’s where it starts, not where it stops. I was so green I didn’t even realise that I had a publicist. She got me a decent review in Publisher’s Weekly, which was nice and it very briefly appeared at number 3 in the Locus best seller lists (paperbacks) the week it came out. Okay, it sank without trace the month after, but still it was good to see it up there.
When my second book, Crossways, came out, my publisher put me in touch with my allocated publicist at PenguinRandomHouse, Nita Basu, who was lovely, but then she moved on and the last few books have had a different publicist every time, some seemingly more effective than others. I’ve come to realise just how important social media and word of mouth is to the success of any book. I started to wake up to the idea of blog tours and interviews, and I continued through the publication of four more books, to do my best to publicise them without resorting to annoying buy-my-book posts. Though every blog/interview/tweet is, in fact a buy-my-book post, but hopefully more interesting than a mere advert. For The Amber Crown I’ve done blog posts on the historical elements, on sex, on characters, on costume, on worldbuilding, on the origins of the story…
The Amber Crown, came out on 11th January 2022, so I started my campaign in December and am continuing it through January and February. I’ve been very grateful to my new publicist at DAW / PenguinRandomHouse, Stephanie Felty, for all her hard work. It’s the first time I’ve worked with Stephanie, but I hope it isn’t the last. She got me a spot on John Scalzi’s Big Idea blog, and I arranged to do a post for Chuck Wendig, and for others including Juliet McKenna. I’ve also done interviews (which I really like doing) and a video virtual book launch and a video interview with Joshua Palmatier of Zombies Need Brains Press. Next up I’m going to do a video reading on Facebook.
This, dear reader, is where you come in. In order to get bumped up by Amazon’s algorithms it seems that books need a minimum of fifty reviews. Once they get to that stage Amazon starts to show the book to potential readers. At the moment there are ten reviews on Amazon.co.uk and seven on Amazon.com. Reviews need only be a sentence or two – or even a word or two – it’s the number of reviews that count for the algorithms. (Though obviously you should do an honest review.) So please put something on there. This is not just for me. Review all your favourite authors in the knowledge that helping to spread the word is great for us all. I do the same for my favourite authors, too.
Talk about your favourite books. Word of mouth is wonderful. Spread the love. Thank you.
“Solid epic fantasy that understands the genre’s core appeal at the same time as offering fresh twists and perspectives. Assured and effective worldbuilding, believably complex characters.” – Juliet E McKenna
” I loved the complexity of the story and the characters, the way everything unfolded little by little and the way it was all tied together and came to a full circle.” – Pure Magic
“An elegantly told story of intrigue, steeped in detail and rich character.” – Adrian Tchaikovsky
“…a rich tale of magic, loyalty, and adventure. From the point of view of three very different characters, this novel swept me away on their separate, yet entangled, journey in the wake of the death of the King of Zavonia.” Utopia State of Mind–Review