I ask those who read my book to please write about it on Amazon. Why, some might wonder? Well people trust that what is written about a book on Amazon will reveal whether or not it is worthy of one's time and energy, and if the topic is of interest. On Amazon, people write what they think and feel about a particular book, trying to tempt other readers, trying to say just enough and yet not give the story away. I have understood the value of this for awhile now, being in a book club and researching possible novels and the like for the group to read. For a writer, what is said about one's book on Amazon, if it is good, then it is as good as gold. It can also be a curse.
On Saturday I had a reading at Barnes & Nobel in Ventura, California. There was a big poster in the front of the store, announcing the event for a week ahead of time. It was exciting for me to have my book inside a bookstore. With so many things written and published everyday, there is hardly room for all of them inside on the shelves of a bookstore. Much of book sales now are on Amazon, and many are Kindle buyers because it is cheaper and better for the planet. But there is nothing more exciting than a real bookstore, the displays, the racks stacked up to the ceiling, the smell of pages and the din of voices speaking about all the various ideas. When there are cafes, as there are inside Barnes & Nobel, then add to it the smell of coffee and the whir of the latte being whipped. And of course, every time a customer walks inside a bookstore, there is a smiling employee who loves a book and wants with all her heart and soul to tell you about it.
Customers nowadays look everything up on Amazon. I spoke with a woman for quite sometime about the why and how of my tale, and she picked up my book and scurried off to shop around. I told her I would sign her copy after she paid for it at the counter. She took the escalator up to the second floor, and while she was there, she read my book reviews on her cell phone. That is what sold her. Of course, she told me that when she came back for the inscription.
It is the hardest thing in the world to get your book reviewed in a newspaper or magazine, no matter how excellent it is, no matter how important it might be. I have a publisher who is a marketing genius, and she is trying everything. That is what my book needs, or course, what will give it wings. Being in Barnes & Nobel is such a pleasure, but how do I get the reader to come to my stack of books and take the journey? The cover is gorgeous and is up for awards. The page number is reasonable and the typeface large enough for those who fight to see. The topic is timely, as half of all young people have eating disorders or disordered eating. Finding a reviewer who likes my book, and getting it included in a listing or a roundup is every writer's goal. With thousands of books published every year, the New York Times just does not have the space for all of them, as Barnes & Nobel does not have room either.
Amazon is a monolith, and airlines are worried it will soon become a packager of travel dreams. It is in our Whole Foods and on our streets fighting traffic to deliver. It is making film content, even. If my book was not sold on Amazon, it might never get read, period, end of story. Watching a "Black Mirror" episode about rating ALL THINGS and how it came to create a dystopia makes one quite wary.
I am a writer because I have something to say and something to do about what I think of the world. It is my way of activism, like those who picket or protest what they don't like or want to have happen. I could give money to charity, or I can write about racism and the wound of slavery, or what fathers do to damage maybe forever their girls. For me to get my voice out there, I need Amazon. How did it come to this?