Friday, May 29, 2015

We Need You...To Write Reviews

This post is written by Elaine White and all opinions are her own.
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I recently read a lot of blog posts and articles about reviews and how important they are. There’s a lot of hype about self-publishing at the moment and the sad part is, that indie publishers and self-publishers are less likely to get posted reviews online whether people like their books or not. Why?
I buy a lot of books on Amazon, for my Kindle. I like the obscure, hard to find books and love to support unknown, independent authors and companies. But for some reason, though people can buy their books for a relatively cheap price, or even sometimes for free, these are the books less likely to have a review written about them. There is no real reason why. If you can buy the book from Amazon, then you have an account and are able to leave a review. There are so many places you can leave your review:
Goodreads – recommend it, mark it as read or TBR, rate it, post about it in a group
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Your blog – write a review, advertise the book, or just link it within a blog post
Smashwords
Twitter – tweet about it, link it, suggest it
Facebook – mention it, like the book page, like the author page, review it, put it in a note
Or just talk about it – tell someone you know about it and they might tell someone else.

Basically, if you can buy a book online, there will be a place to leave a review. And it doesn’t need to be long or well thought out, it doesn’t have to be detailed or give a play by play account of the book. You don’t even have to like the book to leave a review, or hate it. It can be a book that didn’t particularly leave an impact with you. But everything helps, even the smallest review. How will people know whether to buy or read the book you’ve read, unless they have an idea of whether or not it’s well written or interesting? Some people rely entirely on reviews when they’re trying to decide whether to buy or read a book. You can help.
A few lines, a few words about what you liked, what you didn’t, what you think is new or different or the same as another book you read. Is it like Harry Potter? Is this a good thing? Is the author advertising the book as a mystery, only for you to feel it’s more of a paranormal story? This can all help potential readers or buyers. Sometimes even I find it difficult to put what I feel into words. I’ve left reviews on books I’ve loved, but been left speechless about, that basically say –
“I loved it. I cried, and I can’t wait for the next one.” or something like “Loved it, thought it was original and captivating.” The smallest mention counts.

The worst part, is when you don’t know what people think. I’ve read reviews on books I’ve read or plan to read that leave me wondering what that reviewer actually thought. It could be about two pages long and my impression afterwards is confusion. Did they like it? Did they hate it? Or is their two page review a barrage of personal opinion about the author and all the mistakes they noticed or characters/lines they hated. The most important part of a review is what YOU thought, if you would read it again and if you would recommend it to others. You don’t have to be a critic or a teacher or a linguist to get it right. You just have to be honest. Good or bad.
I’ve read some books that are riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes, but the overall story is fantastic. I’ve read some that have perfect spelling and grammar and there are major plot gaps or characters that you can’t identify with. I’ve read books with lead characters I’ve hated and others that I’ve fallen in love with. These books stay with you. Even if you hate the book, but can remember the characters, that’s something to talk about in your review. If you can remember the book, no matter whether you liked it or not, then it left its impact and that impact can help others decide if the book is for them.
Recently, there was a book in the media being raved about. It’s a genre I write as well and I was intrigued to see how different our stories were, so I added the book to my TBR list. However, when I read multiple reviews of this book, I discovered that there was a topic covered in it that meant I wouldn’t want to read it. It took a delicate topic and covered it in a way that I would find insulting. Some of the reviewers weren’t bothered by it, some were unhappy with how it was covered, others thought it was well done. Everyone is different. Me? I was pleased that I hadn’t bought or read the book. I don’t believe in putting a topic in your book that readers could find insulting/personally upsetting or degrading without at least warning them beforehand. This is where reviews come in.
Reviews are also important for sales. Let’s not lie…reviews can sell a book or stall sales. There’s a big thing in the news just now about a group of fans stalling the sales of a book on Amazon by flooding it with one star and bad reviews. No reviews are just as troublesome as bad reviews sometimes. A lull in reviews is the exact same. If you go to read reviews of a book you’re interested in and see that no-one has reviewed or rated it in years, then you begin to wonder why. A lot of people presume that it’s because the book isn’t worth reading. Most of the time, it’s because people are buying and reading the book without leaving reviews.
Reviews inform potential readers and buyers of what they might like or hate about the book. Don’t think that if you leave a negative review the writer will sit there and sob their heart out about it. It’s difficult and it’s never really nice. But negative reviews happen to everyone at some point. Everyone can’t like the same thing. People are different and like different things. Don’t think you’re being kind by not leaving a review. Don’t think that just because the book was a ‘Meh’ rather than a ‘Wow’ means that your review isn’t necessary. Every word counts. Every review matters. And everyone has an opinion.
Please…the next time you read a book, tell someone if you like it or don’t like it. For every person you tell, that might be another three that find out about it, and hear what you liked or didn’t like about it. Every review you post on Goodreads will be seen by everyone on your friends list…everyone who has marked that book as ‘read’ or ‘TBR’ or who visits that book’s page. On Twitter, everyone who follows you has the potential to see your review. Even if it’s a simple “I gave 4/5 stars to this book”. For every follower you have on Twitter, each one of them might favourite or retweet your review to all of their followers. Mention it on Facebook and all your friends, and their friends, have the potential to see and read your review.
No matter where you go to post your review, or how many followers, friends or fans you have on that site, even if it’s zero, at least three people will see your review at some point. That is three people who have the potential to tweet, like, post, or link your review elsewhere. It’s a never ending cycle. All it takes is one review that barely needs more than five minutes to write. Like or hate, indifference or infatuation. It doesn’t matter. Please leave a review of any or all books you read from now on. From a writer to a reader, or a writer to another writer, remember how important your review can be.

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