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Book reviews are important

Reviews - thumbs up

The following was extracted from Judith Briles' guest post entitled 'As the Author World Turns on Amazon Book Review Policies' on Joel Friedlander's The Book Designer. The Blog was posted 21 March 2019.

Authors need reviews on their books. Lots of them.

Once, there are 25, the [Amazon's] robots warm up. More than 50, expect to see cross promotion: book covers pop up on “like” books … “Customers who bought this item also bought …” meaning that your book cover gets displayed on other author pages.

As your reviews build up (think more than 75), Amazon does email blast, suggesting your book cover with the live link to viewers of the site that have shown an “interest” in your category with their searches. How cool is that?

So yes, reviews do count. Big time.

While Judith has anecdotal evidence supporting her claims about the effect of Amazon reviews the comments under the post make clear that this is a contentious area, and even if Judith is correct, as she wrote in response to one comment: "Guaranteed – Amazon always changes its system. What is good today, may not be next week."

Anecdotally, however, I just got an email blast from Amazon.com suggesting I might like Melissa F. Olson's new book Boundary Broken which had, when I checked 69 reviews. OK, OK, Amazon knows that I've bought the previous three books in the series, but still ....

Anyway, regardless of how important reviews are, I think any author would agree that any positive review is helpful, and the more the better.

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Latest review for Jon Puckridge's ON

Blue bleeding down a white cover with ONThe Future is ON by Joel Smith

Goodreads review

I very much enjoyed this book, but it seems to me, (and maybe only me), that you have to read a "quantum-speculative-cyberfi" book differently than you would a traditional, or normal, novel. I'm a huge fan of writers like Hannu Rajaniemi, ("The Quantum Thief"), and everyone else who tries to predict the electronic, cyber and social media future and who tries to translate quantum principles and theories into "sciencey" plot points.

The basic thrust here is that humans are moving from wireless headsets connected to the grID, their current reality of choice, to neural implants that completely tie them in to a hive mentality. (This is what it means to be ON through One Network.) The question is, what will this do to any human sense of past and future, as opposed to the purely now. Additionally, what becomes of reality, individuality, free will, privacy, moral responsibility, and the like. It's a dystopian, (or utopian, depending on your point of view), variation and elaboration on where we are now. The author sweetens, and confuses, the deal with a few other lines.

In addition to humans the world is populated by rooins, who are completely sentient robots with equal civil rights. Since humans are Darwinian, (evolutionary chance), and rooins are Lamarckian, (each new generation acquires improvements made to the prior generation), there is fear that rooins are outpacing humans developmentally. (BTW, they are.)

On top of that, and this may be the bridge-too-far that has lost some readers, all of this is destabilizing the boundaries of space-time and there are disturbances at the quantum level. I like this fluffy goofy pseudo-quantum stuff, but if you don't like playing along then it could easily get old.

We also get a huge cast of characters, and a murder mystery, but that seems to be there so the main characters can go places and do things, and it would probably be a mistake to go into this thinking it's just a futuristic mystery thriller.

What it mostly is, though, is a thought experiment World's Fair. Remember those fairs and expos in the 60's and 70's, (New York, Montreal), that showed us that the future is now? Jetsons cars and color TV and Dick Tracy wristphones? Well, that's sort of what you get a tour of here. Every page, (I mean that almost literally), mentions or includes or describes some odd futuristic electronic, social, communications wrinkle. Almost none of them have anything to do with the story, but when all is said and done they really are the story. As we follow the characters, everything they eat, drink, see, hear, wear, or talk about or talk into, is next-level stuff. It's all wild but plausible. It's the next-gen extension of what we have now. And it's all just a little twisted, or dark, or dehumanizing, or pointless, or meaningless.

So, this author has a firm grasp on the world he sees. He writes, and describes, great main characters and pretty interesting supporting and incidental characters, which helps to put the vision in context. He doesn't miss the little details that sell this sort of world building. Plot and resolution? Not so much. But, as I say, it seems you have to read these novels a bit differently.

So, are you ON?

Links:

http://www.haguepublishing.com/sample/ON.html
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1973513767

Cover of ON

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Do NetGalley's reviews provide a return on investment

Cost-Benefit scalesTravis Neighbour Ward posted a question on the Independent Publishers of New England google+ page as to whether anyone who used Netgalley to post books before they're published felt it was worth the money? And how many reviews had it generated per book for you on average? NetGalley provides digital review copies to professional readers, including booksellers, librarians, media, bloggers, reviewers and educators. The cost to list a title with them for 6 months is $400, or $300 if you are a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and do it through them. As others might be interested in my response I thought it would be useful to put an edited version of my reply out to a wider audience.

We're using Netgalley for the third time at the moment for Janis Hills' Isis, Vampires and Ghosts - Oh My!. We used IBPA for our second book Shelley Davidow's Lights Over Emerald Creek. While listing with IBPA is cheaper, and it also gets you a mailout which you would have to pay for separately if you don't list with them, the level of information you get about those downloading the book isn't as useful (although IBPA will provide you with detailed information on request). As I am interested in building up our own email list of past reviewers I've reverted to listing seperately.  Continue Reading →

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