Why Stephen King and Jodi Picoult don't need your reviews (but debut authors do!).
Let me set the scene: Stephen King’s 65 th novel is about to be released. You liked the first 49,
were a little discouraged with 50-53, skipped 54-57 because, frankly, you didn’t realize he had
released four more—it’s so hard to keep up with his prolificacy, and now his 65th is a day shy of
being on the shelves (It’s not, this is hypothetical; although, it’s King so he very well could have
his 65th novel coming out yesterday!)
King has also published over 200 short stories, 5 nonfiction books, and 16 “other” (whatever that
category consists of…cook books, maybe?) People who love King will read King no matter what
reviews say about his books.
If you admire something, and King fans are hard-core devotees, you give it a chance, and then
another chance, and another chance. And so on and so forth ad infinitum.
The same with Picoult. She’s written 27 novels, and, get this, several issues of Wonder Woman
(Who knew?). No one decides to NOT read her latest because they read a review that only gave
it three stars. They buy it, they read it, they like it or dislike it, they move on, and they WAIT for
her next novel.
So, please listen to me all you book reviewers of the Established Writers’ Guild (not a real guild-
just a name I give to those writers whose books pay their bills). King and Picoult don’t need your
help, nor my help, nor your neighbor’s friend’s sister’s second cousin who borrowed your copy
of The Stand and really loved its help. No one’s help really. Picoult has sold over 40 million
copies of her tomes. Let that sink in. 40 million copies. Her last ten novels hit number one on the
New York Times Bestseller list their first day! They’ve been translated into 34 languages. Both
she and King have had more than one novel adapted to the big, and small, screens. Their editors
no longer even need to know their plans for their next book. They simply want them. They want them all.
To think that a review on Amazon or Goodreads will make or break either of their careers is just
BUT reviews on Amazon or Goodreads for debut authors, those of us with only one novel out
there in the world (purchased and published by one of the top five in the industry or by a small
independent press), those reviews mean everything. Those reviews keep our numbers high in
categories, which push our books to be connected with “if you like this you may like this” books.
Sometimes those books are by those "established" guild authors, the ones with followings. Vast
reviews increase sales and then allow us to put that information in query letters the next time we
send a novel out to make the rounds of agents.
To debut authors, to me, reviews are lifelines. You don’t have to buy a book from Amazon to
write a review about a book on Amazon. They’ll let you do it and simply be unverified. Social
media reviews help, too (but agents don’t see those- they can look at Amazon or Goodreads
though and they do), word of mouth reviews to friends who’ve never heard of the author keep
the grass roots effort going (but encourage them to buy the book rather than lend it to them- three
cups of Starbucks coffee = purchase of one paperback, which lasts forever, unlike the cup of coffee that lasts 20 minutes tops).
So in a way, I guess this blog is a bit of a request. If you’ve read Threshing of Straw (or any book
by a debut author), and haven’t posted a review of it on Amazon or Goodreads, please take the
time to do so. (Unless it was the worst book you ever read. King’s reputation as a writer will not
be diminished by a bad review, not sure mine or another debut author’s could take such a hit!)
Patterson, Grisham, Koontz, Rowling, Steele, and Clark don’t need you anymore. You’ve made
But NEW authors desperately need you. Create the next King and Picoult. Leave reviews for
those of us starting this unbelievable, dream come true, we did it, our books are out there,
WE will be forever grateful.