Have you ever left a review for a book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or another e-book distributor? What was your goal in leaving that review? To give your opinion? To let other consumers know what’s good and what’s not? To give your favorite author a boost? All of these? Some other reason?
As an author, reviews matter. They often make the difference in an author’s books getting noticed by readers and by the silly algorithms distributors use to promote books. I don’t claim to know all the ins and outs of how Amazon – The Ebook Mecca decides who gets recommended and who doesn’t. All I do know is that reviews factor in to the discussion.
Now reviews can be a great friend to authors. Positive reviews let an author know what he/she is doing right, what readers like, and often help in deciding what to write next. Nothing makes me happier than to read a review in which a reader tells me my characters were real to them. That’s something I really strive for in my books, so to hear that I’ve achieved what I’ve set out to do can fuel me for months of lonely writing where self-doubts are always a-knocking.
Negative reviews can also be a friend to authors. Yes, that’s what I said. Reviews that offer constructive feedback in a non-confrontational way are always welcome in my eyes. If a reader tells me that they weren’t feeling the setting, I’ll double my efforts to make the setting more interesting in whatever book I am currently writing. If someone says they thought the ending was rushed, I’ll make sure to check the pace of the ending in my upcoming novel. I like to learn from my mistakes, grow, deliver what readers want. Criticism from which I can make improvements can only make my stories stronger.
Reviews that simply bash, however, are of no use. I often find that these are poorly written (dear Lord, somebody proofread before hitting the submit button), don’t make sense, and are not based on a full reading of my book. When a reader review starts with “I didn’t finish the book, but…” I wonder what prompted that reader to bother writing a review at all. If that reader didn’t finish the book, how can they comment on the story overall? Short answer – they can’t… and shouldn’t. It’s not fair to color the opinions of other readers when a complete picture of the story hasn’t been achieved.
I’ve gotten reviews in which the reader called the characters by the wrong names, talked about characters that didn’t exist, discussed plotlines that didn’t occur, and harped on details that had little to do with the love story, which is the main point of everything I write. So what’s their goal in writing a review? Why waste the time if you’re not going to be accurate?
I also laugh when I get a negative review that says the ending was “predictable.” Umm… my books are romances, peeps. That happily ever after is a guarantee or it’s not a romance. In fact that predictable happily ever after means I did it right. I’d be mad as heckfire if I read a romance and it wasn’t predictable at the end. I read them for the comfort of that predictability. I like knowing that I’m not going to be crying sad tears at the end, but only happy ones. If you don’t like this flavor of ending, pick up another genre. If I don’t like a book, I just don’t leave a review and chalk it up to that particular author just not being for me. No biggie.
Everyone is entitled to their opinions I suppose, but I can’t help but think that if you wouldn’t say something to someone’s face, you shouldn’t say it in a review either. It’s okay to be nice when you’re also being critical. It’s not okay to rip something apart just for the sake of ripping it apart. Remember, authors pour themselves into every story they write. It may just seem like words on a page, but to us, we’ve spent months, sometimes years bleeding—often fatally—all over those formerly blank sheets of white.
We’ve worked hard, and a few kind words go a long way to boosting our sensitive spirits. Lately, I've received quite a few nice reviews on my FREE book, More Than Pancakes, Book One in The Maple Leaf Series. Many of the reviews have absolutely made my day! To celebrate, I'm running a Reader Appreciation Giveaway for a $50 Amazon Gift Card. To enter, visit my website HERE and scroll down on the homepage. One winner will be chosen randomly by March 15, 2016.
Have you loved an author today by leaving a review? If not, go give it a whirl. You’ll make us smile. Trust me.
Happy reading AND reviewing!
The Maple Leaf Series, Books One to Five, available now. Book One, More Than Pancakes, is always FREE.