Do Awards and/or Good Reviews Help Spur Interest in Books?

Running Full CoverFinalistMD

Running Through A Dark Place, the second book in my epic 5 book series, The Knight Cycle, is a Finalist in the 2014 Rainbow Awards in the Young Adult category, which is super cool and I’m very honored to have been chosen and to be in the company of so many talented authors. The first book in the series, Children of the Knight, was a Finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards for the Young Adult category, and ended up in the top ten. With over 500 books submitted this year, and a number close to that last year, it’s amazing to be in the final 19 selected for the Young Adult category.

Children of the Knight was also given Honorable Mention in the 2014 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Young Adult Age 15-18 category, and it scored a Gold Award under Best Books For Teenagers from the UK-based The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards.

My novel, A Matter of Time, won a 2012 Silver Medal from Reader’s Favorite under the Romance/Suspense category.

I do not post these awards for the purpose of bragging because that is not my persona. My purpose for this post is to ask fellow authors, and even readers, if winning an award for a book (obviously not something like the National Book Award) and/or getting good reviews helped spur visibility of the book and bring more readers to the table. Is there a way to promote awards and/or reviews (other than just through social media) that may attract more readers from the target audience?

In my case, there appears to have been no jump in sales or readers as a result of these awards. The awards are listed on Amazon with the book info, and of course I promote through social media. I also share the occasional review that pops up on Goodreads or Amazon for any of my books. The Knight Cycle is really one long epic story wherein each book begins exactly where the previous one ended, and thus need to be read in order. I, therefore, heavily promoted the first book in the series. These books feature gay teens in prominent roles, are ethnically and racially diverse, and don’t focus on any single issue, but on a great many issues facing teens and children in America today.

The Rainbow Awards is specifically targeted at books revolving around LGBT characters, and thus I was pleasantly surprised both years to be a finalist. However, those who read Rainbow Award winning books have shown virtually no interest in Children or Running. In other words, being a Finalist didn’t bring in any new readers. In the case of Children of the Knight, I did get some very positive reviews on Goodreads as a result of the book making it to the final round, but those good reviews didn’t generate much interest either.

The Wishing Shelf Awards and the Reader’s View Awards are mainstream competitions, and my wins in both have not produced any noticeable bump in reader interest.

Likewise, my Silver Medal for A Matter of Time has done nothing to garner more readership for that book.

So, back to my original question and the title of this post: does winning awards (other than major ones) and/or getting good reviews help bring readers to the table?

I don’t know the answer. But maybe some of you out there do. I’d love to hear from both authors and readers. For you authors out there, have awards and reviews helped your books, and if so, what did you do with the award and/or reviews that brought in new readers?

For you readers out there, do you care about awards or even reviews in selecting books to read? Personally, as a reader, I do look at both because I think that if a book has won an award, it might at least be worth exploring on Amazon. I also check out reviews, but steer clear of any that might contain spoilers. Almost all of the reviews for my books have been positive, but those reviews haven’t improved the visibility of the books or increased readership. I don’t have many followers on this blog, but I hope to hear from at least a few people out there because I’m very interested in your thoughts.

Thanks.

Sticker correct size Wishing Shelf AwardReader Views Awardimage description

2014 Rainbow Awards Finalists

Young Adult
Asher’s Fault by Elizabeth Wheeler
Educating Simon by Robin Reardon
Freak Camp: Posts From a Previously Normal Girl by Jessica V. Barnett
Heavyweight by MB Mulhall
Here’s to You, Zeb Pike by Johanna Parkhurst
Not Broken, Just Bent by Mia Kerick
Omorphi by C. Kennedy
Pray The Gay Away by Sara York
Red Devil by Kyell Gold
Running Through A Dark Place by Michael J. Bowler
Safe by Mark Zubro
Silent by Sara Alva
The Red Sheet by Mia Kerick
The Seventh Pleiade by Andrew J. Peters
This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet
Us Three by Mia Kerick
Vivaldi in the Dark by Matthew J. Metzger
You’re Always in the Last Place You Look by T.N. Gates

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6 thoughts on “Do Awards and/or Good Reviews Help Spur Interest in Books?

  1. Kim Anisi says:

    It is a good question. I have read a few books about how to market books, and they focus a lot on reviews, and add that awards are something authors should go for. It all seems like a daunting task.

    From a perspective of a reader, I have to say that I usually prefer seeing a book in a book-store (old-fashioned, I know), and then simply read the book cover. I often only care about the content of the book, not about what other readers have to say about it. It’s a bit different when it comes to e-books though. I am more hesitant to spend money on an ebook – but happy to pay for proper, printed books. I often read ebook reviews, and if a few reviewers mention grammar and spelling mistakes, it is an instant turn off. However, I usually only read reviews when the plot sounds interesting enough.

  2. Thanks, Kim, for your thoughtful reply. Like you, I much prefer physical books in my hand. I love book cover art and enjoy flipping through a book if the blurb sounds interesting. However, I have nothing but used book stores where I live, and it’s a long drive to the nearest Barnes and Noble. But even online, if a book sounds interesting and I like the cover art, I’ll buy the paperback over the ebook unless I have no choice. Normally, if more than one person mentions in reviews that there are a lot of grammar or spelling errors, I usually don’t buy the book. However, if the plot piques my interest and the ebook is cheap enough, I still might buy it. I’ve read some great stories, even in paperback published by small presses, that had many typos, which annoyed me, but didn’t ruin the overall enjoyment of the book. I obsess over my own books to avoid typos, and even though all have been professionally edited, one or two seem to slip through the process. That annoys the heck out of me. LOL Thanks again for your comment. Appreciate it.

  3. Mia Kerick says:

    For many years, I was a reader and not an author, and I clearly remember how I selected books. Mainly, I looked at Amazon reviews. How many ratings a book had and how raving those ratings were factored heavily into the decision. And yes, I am more inclined to read a book (as long it is of interest to me) that has received an award of some type. I will be honest–I am impressed by awards and when a book receives multiple awards I think- this book must be good. However, I think the cover is the most important attention attracting device, and the blurb also is a hook that draws me in. I am also very interested in the answer to this question Michael has posed.

    • Thanks, Mia, for your comment. I agree that cover art is what draws me in first, then the blurb second. However, I have noticed on occasion some sloppily constructed blurbs that don’t intrigue me. But there might be something about the idea that is of interest and I will go on Amazon and read a little from the first chapter. While I note if a book has won awards, I have read some award-winning books I didn’t personally like, so that alone would not lead me to check out a book. Thanks for the input.

  4. Anna Lund says:

    Hello Michael, what an interesting question.

    Books are like an article in a newspaper, first I look at the Image (cover) if that is interesting (well done) then I read the Caption (sub title on cover). If that, too, is interesting, I go on and read the Ingress (blurb for the book), and if all of those click with me, then I sit down and read the article (book, as it were). Does that make sense? There is so little time and so many books out there.

    I am a reader and reviewer, and I have a different take on awards: mostly I feel great when I see that a book I’ve loved gets a reward. But I don’t go out of my way to buy and read books that get awards, they don’t land in the top ten of my (enormous) To Be Read pile because it got an award.

    What DOES put a book in my top-10 pile is a great review from a reviewer I respect.

    And this is where I think a lot of authors miss the point: go look for the reader/reviewer who loves your kind of books—he or she is usually followed by hundreds of people who also love those kinds of books. Put your book in the hands of that reviewer, and watch the magic unfold.

    Now, after all that, there is one thing that might have huge impact: your books are a series. I (and many like me) don’t read series until they are finished, and I can read them all together. You see, I read so much, (between 5-20 books a month at times), so if I have to wait for months for book #2, chances are I’ve forgotten what the story was about because so many other stories have waltzed through my brain, and I will have to reread book #1. I don’t have time to reread book #1, so…

    So, maybe people are just waiting for the series to be complete? 🙂
    I know I can’t wait to read your stories!

    • Thank you so much for your awesome reply, Anna. What you wrote makes so much sense. I have thought for a long while now that many reviewers themselves have followers and for an author, having the right reviewer in your corner can be worth its weight in gold. You just confirmed my theory. I do concur with you about series because I, too, like to wait until I have them all or until the final book is near release before reading the others. That’s why I decided to release all of mine this year in the hopes some people think like I (and you) do and might give the first one a chance because the others are all out. In that vein, the final book in my series releases in early November. All the comments point to the cover and the blurb, which I agree with. Books that don’t seem to catch on maybe need a better cover and/or blurb. I’ll have to write another blog post about what makes a blurb “sing” and solicit comments. Thanks again!

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