Sorry diamonds, this girl has a new best friend: reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Truth be told, diamonds and I never have been well acquainted – but all that could change if I can amass enough “The Other Mother: a Rememoir” reviews before Christmas.
It’s a happy accident, really, that the book is out in time for men to impress their wives by tucking it under the Christmas tree – or more likely for women to wrap up for their mothers and other mothers. But the only way Byrne’s story spreads beyond this rarefied world of people who actually knew her is if enough readers leave reviews on those two particular sites: Amazon and Good Reads. Crazy but true — rankings and algorithms too complicated for my feeble brain depend on it. The new reality is that other than loyal local publications like Lowcountry Weekly, Beaufort Gazette and the Charleston City Paper – not many national book reviewers have a platform anymore.
Writers have spilled enough doom-and-gloom about this to keep barkeeps in tips for the next ten years, so I’m choosing to look on the bright side. The internet is full of talented bloggers who fight the good fight to keep books top of mind. The fact that there are fewer gate-keepers means we can all crash the gates! Every reader’s opinion matters on Amazon.com and GoodReads. In many ways it’s a more egalitarian world without the literary elite controlling which books are anointed and which pilloried. My friend and mentor, Pat Conroy, always says “The New York Times giveth, and the New York Times taketh away.” He finds most conventional reviews capricious and mean-spirited and vowed long ago never to accept offers to snarkily critique the work of fellow writers in national publications.
That said, he still writes his books long-hand – so his fabulous blurb on the cover of my book is not likely to end up as a review on Amazon.com no matter how much he loves “The Other Mother” (and he says he’s giving it away as Christmas presents so I know he really does) But miracles do happen, especially at Christmas, so in the spirit of information sharing I’ve made a how-to list to help those less internet savvy join in this modern word of mouth. (Conroy – I’m talking to you.)
To leave “The Other Mother” a review on Amazon (and you don’t have to have finished the book – even your initial thoughts count) just click on this link to my Amazon review page. If you want inspiration, just scroll down and check out the insights others have already left. Then just hit the Leave a Review button and start typing.
Once you register with GoodReads their review system work almost the same way. You start by going to my book page and give the book a “rating” – in stars – first. Find the stars by looking under the thumbnail picture of the bookcover and the green “READ” button. Then click on the underlined title of the book itself and it’ll take you through to another page where you scroll down to “My Reviews” and type whatever you’d like in the blank field. Just hit save and you’re done.
See? Easier than dressing up in a red velvet suit and playing Santa. May mistletoe dangle wherever you innocently hover.