Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Be Very Afraid

Our guest blogger today is author JA Konrath, who writes a mystery series about a Chicago cop named Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels. He's currently on a blog tour for the month of March to promote AFRAID, a horror novel he penned under the name Jack Kilborn, which will be released on the 31st. More at his great blog: A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing.

Now, here's Joe.

Let's talk about reviews.

I've had my share of good reviews, and a few bad reviews, and I know different people have different tastes so I take it all in stride.

But today's blog isn't about professional reviews. Because, frankly, newspapers and magazines are going under faster than we can count them.

Today I want to talk about a type of reviews that are gaining popularity. The ones people are actually listening to.

Reader reviews.

It's no secret that word-of-mouth is the strongest form of book promotion. When was the last time you bought a book because you saw an ad for it? Compare that to a friend who says, "Oh my god, you have to read this!"

Chances are, the friend is more persuasive than the ad.

Which brings us to this wonderful form of communicaiton known as the Internet.

For the first time, in the history of reviewing, anyone with a computer and a modem can share their opinions with the entire world. And people are doing just that, in record numbers, on dozens of different websites and thousands of different blogs, newsgroups, listservs, and message boards.

And I'll be 100% honest here: your words do count.

We've all been on, wondering if we should or shouldn't buy a certain book. What sways us one way or the other?

The reviews do. An average of three or more stars usually means I'll take a chance and buy the book. Less then two stars means I'll get my copy from the library, if at all.

In the past, high-profile critics told us what we should and shouldn't like. But now, majority rules, and the masses are a pretty good judge of if a book is good or not.

Which brings me to a question I'd like to ask: Do you post reviews?

I have a vested interest in reviews and being reviewed, because I'm a writer.

But I'm also a reader. A reader who enjoys sharing his opinion. A reader who thinks it's important to play cheerleader for my peers. A reader who recognizes how important a few sentences can be to someone considering buying a book.

So I've posted my fair share of reviews, and I've posted a few on some other sites as well.

Could I do more? Sure.

Now how about you?

If you believe reader reviews are helpful, if you love books as much as I do, if you want to help authors that you enjoy, why aren't you posting more reviews?

You really don't have any excuses. If you're a writer, it's a
no-brainer: you're helping to propagate the species, and what goes around comes around. If you're a reader, it's a no-brainer: your review will help a writer sell more books, and we all know what happens to writers who don't sell enough.

So where should you post reviews? is an obvious choice. But very few people also post those same reviews on its sister sites, and

Other bookstore sites that allow for reviews are, and
You could write a five sentence review, then post it on all of these sites in less than ten minutes.

You can also post your reviews, and meet like-minded fellow readers and writers, at,, and

If you're a mystery fan, you can post reviews on, or join the Listserv, or visit the newsgroup news:rec.arts.mystery on Usenet.

Other places to post include,,,, and

And don't forget your social networking sites,,, and

If you're really hardcore, and have an eye for detail, you can edit and add your favorite authors, along with synopses of their best books.

Your opinion really does matter. And authors really do care.

In fact, I care so much, that I'm giving away free copies of my new horror novel, AFRAID, to people who post links to new reviews (reviews they've just posted today) about any book from any author on the Outfit blog.

Go to one of the sites I listed above, and write a review about a book by Sean Chercover, Barbara D'Amato, Michael Allen Dymmoch, Kevin Guilfoile, Libby Hellmann, Sara Paretsky, or Marcus Sakey.

You've read their stuff. Now post your thoughts online. If you've already reviewed them, you can cut and paste that review onto another webite.

Post your new links in the comments section. I'll randomly pick three people to get free books. And by "random" I mean that the more reviews you post, the better chance you have of winning.

Now go share your opinion with the world.


Michael Dymmoch said...

Dynamite post, Joe.


JA Konrath said...

Now don't everyone all review at once...

Marcus Sakey said...

Well, either:

A) No one wants a copy of Joe's book,


B) None of the folks here have actually read our stuff. ;)

Regardless, thanks for coming by, amigo. Great post, as always.

Sean Chercover said...

Don't let the dead silence get ya down, Joe. It's just that a secret helicopter recently crashed near the homes of all our regular Outfit readers, and, well, there has been much carnage and the place will never be the same.

Can't wait to read AFRAID.

JA Konrath said...

This fascinates the hell out of me.

I've given away roughly 150 copies of Afraid on this blog tour, and usually people are fighting over them.

I don't think asking for reviews is too much work, because I've asked on my own behalf and gotten a bunch this month.

So I'm scratching my head. Even if your blog gets zero hits, I still sent a bunch of my fans in this direction, so there should be some response.

The conclusion I'm forced to draw is your fans have already reviewed you, and my fans are now reading you and will take a while before they review you.

That's better than the alternative: none of us have fans.

Or perhaps I'm not as effective a blogger as I think...

Kevin Guilfoile said...

I'm going with the theory that there's been some sort of DAY AFTER event and Joe, Michael, Marcus, Sean, and I are the last people left on earth. Which means we have some difficult decisions in the reproductive/whom-to-eat-first departments,

Anyway Joe, if that's true, can I have your book?

JA Konrath said...

You can eat me, Kevin.

Naomi said...

Hi! Long-term fan of Jack Daniels here. One problem with posting reviews to Amazon, for me: I can't stand looking at those reviews. They contain a lot more spoilers than I am comfortable with, and I'm not that big a stickler about spoilers. Plus, most of them are dumb and/or biased-- almost as bad as Yelp! Makes me wonder who exactly is being influenced by these reviews.

I sometimes bestir myself to post a review if a book I like hasn't received many reviews, or if I think it's been treated unfairly. I still end up feeling icky about getting involved.

I guess I will have to rethink this some, if authors I respect find it important. Just thought you might want to hear from a fairly garden-variety fan.