Recently my friend Brian and I where enjoying a pint or two in my favourite local when the conversation, as so often happens turned to books. Brian argued that a powerful minority of reviewers and literary critics largely determine the choices of the book buying public. If an influencial reviewer rates your work highly you are, as an author far more likely to prosper than if the same person provides a bad review or ignores your book.
I believe that my friend is correct upto a point. The kind of review an author receives in a leading national newspaper or periodical (assuming he receives one at all) can exert a powerful influence on the book buying public by (firstly) drawing the writer’s work to their attention and (secondly) by influencing the public in favour or against the book. However I believe that my friend is overly pessimistic as, with the rise of the great leviathan (Amazon) and other e-book retailers the world of reviewing and literary criticism has been democratised in that anyone can now leave a review. So if lots of Jo Blogs and Joan Smiths leave positive reviews on Amazon an author’s work is likely to prosper. Having said that I am sure that if the same author has his or her book slated in the press this will, quite possibly impact negatively on book sales.
The rise of e-books has also expanded the reach of authors across the globe. Until very recently a writer wishing to publish either had to be offered a contract by an established publisher or pay to have their work printed privately. With the birth of e-books a book can be published on Amazon today and within a matter of hours be available in most (in some instances) all of Amazon’s online stores. Of course this is by no means the end of the story as, once a book is available the challenge of getting people to look at your Amazon author’s page (let alone buy your books) begins.
In conclusion my friend, Brian is right in that positive reviews by influencial critics in mass circulation newspapers and magazines can greatly influence the purchasing habits of the reading public. However the rise of Amazon and other similar outlets does enable ordinary book lovers to post reviews and by so doing assists, to some extent in democratising the world of literary criticism.
For my Amazon author page please visit http://www.amazon.co.uk/K.-Morris/e/B00CEECWHY/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0