As an indie author and a music journalist (that supports indie artists), I find myself straddling an interesting fence. As a music writer (for Consequence of Sound and Mxdwn — see Other Writing if curious) I am approached daily by PR companies and record labels asking me to review their artist’s latest offerings. Sometimes these are big name, big label bands, and sometimes these are smaller, totally unknown (or at least cultish) bands but in the end, they approach me just the same.
I try and review everything I get. As I write for publications, it is sometimes not up to me if a review gets done or not. I may push my editor to get a review out there, but it’s often not my choice. But I do what I can and often, especially for certain types of music I am draw to (see: everything on Ipecac). Labels and musicians alike know that in this day and age, one of the most efficient ways to create buzz for an artist or to get a band heard and noticed, is through reviews. Sure, press releases are handed out here and there and occasionally there might be a music video going viral, but really, it’s reviews that make things go BOOM. Whether you make the argument that the listener should buy the album or not, you’re at least painting a picture, and telling the world what to expect. You put that name out there.
Now that I’ve published my books, I find myself on the opposite side of the fence. Not with music, of course, but I am approaching specific book bloggers to see if they would be so kind as to review my book. Just as fashion bloggers started replacing Vogue and Harpers as the “go-to” voices of the fashion world, book bloggers are picking up the reins from the floundering print industry and becoming the new venue of saturation. Book reviews — particularly in-depth and thoughtful ones — are as good as any high-powered PR team in getting people to want to read your book. Yes, you can advertise all you want (and I do) but ads don’t convince people to hand over money and buy your book. Reviews do. People telling them to read it, does.
(and by the way, all book bloggers who have agreed to read Darkhouse or Red Fox, taking a chance on an indie novel — you’re all beyond awesome. Check out the Links section to visit these adventurous souls)
And it doesn’t stop at book bloggers — anyone who has read a book, especially an indie book — should leave a review. I’m not just speaking personally. Without a large marketing or PR budget, it’s hard for a book these days to get noticed but if you leave a review and detail what you liked (and didn’t like!) about a book, you’re doing the writing world a great, big favor.
Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. Let me repeat that: whether you are leaving a good review or a bad (and hopefully tactful and constructive) review, you’re helping.
Which makes EVERY REVIEW COUNT.
Publishers at the recent BEA in NYC noted that bad reviews sell almost as many books as good reviews do. Why is that? Because you’re getting the word out there. And word of mouth is a wonderful thing.
So, if you read a book (any book), tell the world what you thought of it. Writers everywhere will thank you for it.