Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An Author’s Observations on the Affects of Reviews on Purchasing by Shawn Lamb

One day I read a comment author Shawn Lamb made on another blog's post. As someone who reviews and tries to promote books on my personal site, it caught my attention. As writers, we're urged to have a social media presence, which is a good thing, but is there something better? I asked Shawn to share a version of that post comment here. -- Sandy

Shawn: To begin, my first book went into pre-release in late 2009, since then I have published more books in two different genres and in three age groups, children, YA and college age to adult. Of course, as a new author I followed the advice of becoming connected through all types of social media while my publicist set about getting reviews. 

After a while, the process became too much to handle as I traveled through 13 states across the East Coast, Southeast, Mid-west and Plains to conventions, book fairs and conferences. At these events, I talk to thousands of people, most of whom buy my books. As a result, I cut back on social media activity and stopped seeking reviews all together to concentrate on events.

This year, my husband and I went over the sample questions taken at all our events of how someone heard of me and/or my books. We always ask to determine the most effective marketing and analyzing each event for future participation. We were surprised by the findings. Not a single person said they heard of me and/or my books from reading a review or blog. The answer fell into four categories – 1) “word of mouth” from a friend or family member, 2) seeing my name on the speaker program and they attended my session, 3) visited my booth the previous year, checked out my website and now returned to buy my books, 4) their child saw my books at the event and became excited.

Yes, this is surprising - that in four years, we couldn’t find an answer where someone purchased my books based upon reviews, any particular blog or a social media site! For all the effort put into promotion and marketing in today’s technological society – word of mouth still rules! In conjunction with number two on the list of attending a workshop or speaking session, the words personal credibility came up frequently in answers.

Most authors are told to connect, to seek reviews, but I don’t recall my publisher, agent or publicist saying anything in regards to personal credibility! That’s not something a marketing or promotional campaign can manufacture, rather it's based solely on the personal integrity of the author. In some ways this is both a frightening and a humbling thought. Social media can fake this part, but not being in front of real people.

This discovery, and my years of experience, tells me people want to make a connection that is genuine. I encourage authors to go out into their local communities and establish a rapport. Some may argue social media is helpful in reaching a wider audience, but in my case, social media is more useful after making direct contact. 

What do you think about the social media aspect of marketing? What has been your experience with it? 


Shawn Lamb is an award-winning author and screenwriter, who once wrote for children’s television.
Her books span 2 genres, allegorical fantasy and Christian historical fiction, and 3 age groups, children, young adult, and college age thru adults.  Shawn is also a frequent speaker at homeschool conferences on topics dealing with reading, teaching and writing fiction.

Speaker page: