…go together like kids and sweets or kids and scraped knees. When I was growing up, everything had ketchup on it, to the extent that I couldn’t eat my fish fingers and chips if the ketchup bottle was empty. The thing is, my kids wouldn’t touch the stuff until last week. Whenever I offered them some to go with their burger they just said “EEUUWW!”
It was the same with gravy, ham and a host of other foods: they didn’t like it, even though they hadn’t tried it. Whenever the bottle was placed on the dinner table they would push it away from their plate in disgust, just in case their food became contaminated by its mere proximity. What I had to do was get them to sample a little ketchup on a chip. “Go on, just try a little, see if you like it.” They still refused, until I promised to open the sweet cupboard after dinner (that always works). With fear and trepidation, the youngest opened her mouth and squeezed her eyes shut, as if expecting the chip to explode. It didn’t, and her face instantly lit up. “Mmmmm, that’s delicious!” Her twin immediately dived in and now we’re moving on to the next battle: salad!
That episode got me thinking, though. Gray Justice has had 17 reviews on Amazon US and 14 on Amazon UK (at the time of writing) and only four have been 4-star, the rest of the readers giving it 5 stars. Yet it isn’t setting the world on fire. Sure, the reviews tell people how good it is, yet there is still that reluctance to dive in and spend 72 pence on a copy.
I’m sure it’s not just my book, either. Many a reader will have their favourite authors and have an unwillingness to try something new, which means there are so many great reads they could be missing out on.
Can a little tell you a lot?
I guess for me it can, just like it does for my daughters. Like the vast majority of readers, I want a book to grab me from the first page, or even the first chapter. Unfortunately, in recent years I have purchased too many books that have left me bored to tears. That isn’t to say they are bad books, but they are just not for me.
This doesn’t just apply to self-published books, either. I have read bestsellers from my favourite genres, sometimes even my favourite authors, and yet I couldn’t quite get engrossed enough to get past the first couple of chapters, try as I might. Since I bought my kindle late last year I have added and abandoned five works and I knew it was time to take a different – and cheaper – approach to book selection.
As a member of Twitter and Goodreads I get recommendations all the time, and as well as reading the reviews (which go a long way to telling me how good or bad a book might be) I download the sample from Amazon. This can be done easily by clicking the Send Sample Now button, and the first 10% of the story will be delivered to your Kindle. For me, that is more than enough to make a decision.
So the next time you get a book recommendation but you’re not convinced enough by the reviews to make a purchase, try sampling first. In fact, why not try sampling now? US readers can get a sample of Gray Justice here, while those from the UK (where the book is set) can get it here
Like my daughters and their ketchup, I’m confident you’ll be back for more!