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Saturday, June 24, 2006


Value of Amazon Reviews

Write A Book Without Lifting A Finger coverWhen the phone rings, you never know who will be on the other end. Yes, you may have caller ID and be able to sneak a preview but someone has to make that initial step to call. To my surprise, Mahesh Grossman, who has been called the ghostwriting guru, was on the other end of the line.  Several years ago I learned about Mahesh through a tele-seminar on Annie Jennings PR (another great resource). I was fascinated with his information about ghostwriting. Many writers are reluctant to become involved in this aspect of the work because they want their name to appear on the book or get “credit.”  From my perspective, it is much more important to have the writing work than to receive the credit. If you do excellent work, the credit will come.  Also many writers are reluctant to ghostwrite because of the difficulty of working with another person in the writing process—which admittedly is a challenge but I believe a good stretching challenge. Anyway, I want to return to the unexpected phone call.

Mahesh Grossman was calling to thank me for my Amazon review of his book, Write A Book Without Lifting a Finger. This book is targeted to people who have a book idea or a book manuscript and don’t know how to get it published.  Mahesh teaches the reader how to find a ghostwriter and gives practical examples about book publishing. Why would a writer want to read this book? Because it contains statistics and information that I’ve not seen in any other place about books.  Now this book has a 2004 copyright but here’s one interesting quote, “According to estimates by the Times of London, there are 120,000 new books published annually in the United States. That number is growing every year. Of these, roughly 102,000, or 85%, are non-fiction.” Now whether you agree with this statistic or not, nonfiction regularly outsells fiction—as I’ve pointed out in other entries. There many types of resources and tips in this book which are excellent for writers. 

If you notice the customer reviews of this book, there are only a few—and not many of them are very recent. Originally I wrote this review in mid-May. This morning, I adjusted something grammatical that I noticed so the date of my review changed on it.  Yes, Amazon gives you the ability to adjust your review (or even delete it) on my profile page.  Mahesh was calling to ask permission to use a quotation from my review. He tracked down my phone number (there are many ways to get this information online). My simple review of his book on Amazon gave me an unusual connection and the beginnings of another relationship.

Over the last several weeks, I have been pulling books off my shelf which I have read and adding short reviews on Amazon. If you begin to look, you will be surprised how many times a bestselling book has no customer review. Or in some cases, it has negative customer feedback (maybe a single bad review). Your positive review can bring some sense of balance. It doesn’t take long to write a few sentences of review and help the book.  I have written a number of these reviews over the last couple of months. I’m not spending days of time writing these reviews but only a matter of minutes. It’s like many other things related to writing—if you do it a bit at a time, after a while, you will end up with a lot of material. It is not rocket science but easy to accomplish. I’d encourage you to set a reasonable goal for yourself—such as one review a week, then fit it into your schedule. 

If you’ve invested the time to read the book, then take a few more minutes and crank out a review. You never know what can come from one of these reviews but it will never happen if you haven’t written a review.

5 Comment:

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Ernie W. Left a note...

HI Terry, Your blog couldn't have come at a better time. Just last night I told my wife I was going to begin writing reviews on books. I decided to do this after I received an advanced reading copy of a novel to be released in July, and I told the author I would write a review. Great blog. Thanks.
By the way, I'm looking forward to meeting Denny Boultinghouse at the Oregon Christian Writers summer conference.
Ernie Wenk

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Bucktowndusty Left a note...

Hello Terry. It would be incredibly helpful if you were to create a page that had nothing but all the books you've read on writing. I'm sure I could go back on each page of the archive to find your mentioning of certain books, but it would be fantastic to see them all in one place (like an Amazon sidebar, where you get proceeds. I've bought two books already from visiting this site and would buy more.

Just a thought.

 
At 11:12 AM, Blogger tasra Left a note...

Hi Terry! Excellent suggestion. We met a few years ago at Mount Hermon and I've always valued your practical and insightful ideas. Now that my own book is close to publication, I'm starting to see and understand the value of Amazon reviews. I'm going to start reviewing other books this week! Thanks for the reminder!

Tasra
http://www.realwomenscrap.typepad.com

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Hello Dusty,

I've read hundreds of books on writing. The ones I recommend change from month to month and depend on the particular type of writing. It's a good idea but it would take hours just to compile the list--and then the list would constantly be changing as I continue to read new titles. Just a bit of a reality check for your suggestion.

When I teach at writer's conferences, I usually include at least one page with different writing books--but again it depends on the topic for that particular workshop session as to which books are on the list.

Terry

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Bucktowndusty Left a note...

Understandable. I've found most of what I need anyway in "Book Proposals That Sell"!

 

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