Most of us have bought a product of some kind (a car, for example) without reading reviews, wherever you would find them, written by satisfied and less than satisfied customers. But most of us have bought directly from Amazon, and made our decisions, in part, based on customer reviews. I bought a phone charger recently and avoided those that had few reviews, and I tried to focus on those that had many 4 or 5-star reviews. It's just human nature. I even hear that about local mechanics or even doctors. "He has a waiting line...He must be good!" However, neither positive reviews nor numbers of customers necessarily mean what one might think they mean.
I will state, though, without a doubt, that for an independent writer such as myself, reviews are essential. Otherwise, I look like an amateur, not worth a second look. How to go about procuring reviews? There are services that charge, but those are unethical, and if Amazon finds out, boy are you ever busted! I have written to several book bloggers for BLOOD SACRAMENT in hopes of raising my sad review count of 3 to at least 10. I've reached 9. Recently I've received a review of VISITATION RITES, the only one to date. It's 4 out of 5 stars, so I should be happy. However, here it is in its entirety: "A good jaunt through the southwest." As a language arts teacher, I can't justify placing a B on a paper unless I can state why it's not an A paper. I think the same should go with reviews, but what do I know?
I just looked up Stephen King on Amazon. A book that has been out for only two weeks already has nearly 500 reviews. Come on, people, he's Stephen King! He doesn't need even a single review; that book will still be on the Top 100 list for months regardless! But independent, self-published writers? We need them. Please?
And by the way, I practice what I preach...unless, that is, I see that the writer already has 100+ reviews...