March is coming to a lovely end here in Salt Lake. Just wanted to share some quick news before we get into the topic at hand. Firstly, I am doing a fun Online Author Showcase event April 1st-4th and will be spotlighting one of my novels each day from 1 pm-2pm MST. Mark your calendars as there will be a few fun giveaways and some great polls and fun chatter! (It actually goes through the 10th, if you want to check out the whole huge event!) I am also doing the B2B Cybercon on Goodreads April 8th-10th. You definitely should come by and check it out. There will be a ton of fun panels, interviews, I am doing the Lipsync Battle, and there are sure to be a ton of giveaways. I will post more in coming days, but mark your calendars now!
And all that fun promotional stuff is a good segue into the topic at hand. Why reviews matter. Now, there are dozens of articles out there that take the discussion of reviews from the perspective of why it matters to authors. And it does matter. A.LOT. So much so that an entire industry is building up around helping authors get reviews.
But that is not what we are talking about today. We are talking about why reviews matter to you, the reader. As a reader myself, I can give some insight into that. More than covers, more than blurbs, more than even the sample, when I am looking for a new book I want to see social proof. That is how we know something is good, right? If others liked it then it at least can't be bad. If someone didn't like it, we can see why. If others loved it, we can get hints into what we are getting. Plus, connecting with likeminded readers has become a huge industry in and of itself! It is the reason that sites like Goodreads and Shelfari are wildly successful. It is why online book reading groups have blossomed! We love sharing about books.
And yet, the bulk of reviews are written by only a handful of reviewers. When was the last time you wrote a review?
I polled some of my reader friends and 89% had not written a review for a book in over a year.
Yet 96% admit that reviews do play a factor in their buying decision. Why would you not want to help others know whether or not to read a book?
Well, my poll addressed that. 33% said they did not think others would care about their opinions. 46% admitted that they did not know how to write a review. 56% admitted that they did not think about writing a review when they finished a book.
I can only address the last statistic with suggesting that authors make it easier for you to leave a review. I know that Amazon sends me email reminders to post a review. At the end of my books, I put a link to Goodreads so that a reader can just pop right over while it is still fresh in their mind and post the review. Does that make it easy enough for you?
For those who don't think your opinion matters, let me assure you it does! People look at reviews. You look at reviews! Amazon and Goodreads, and a host of other book sites look at reviews. Bookstores that I approach to carry my books look at how many reviews I have as well as the average rating. Your review matters so very much! But as an indie author, I can tell you that beyond how your review effects my sales, what you say in your review matters to me. I read every single review. I see what my readers liked, what they didn't, what they want more of, what they want less of. I take that information into my next project. I hang out with a lot of indie authors online and let me tell you, I am not alone! How many other entertainment sources do you have such direct impact on? If you have a favorite TV show, can you write to the network and influence how that show goes? I don't think so. We writers care what you think! We learn from you.
Now to address the last poll point: Not knowing how.
Writing a review is super easy! It isn't a formal book report. We (As readers or writers) don't expect you to write a huge book report! We just want a couple of tidbits from you to show you actually read it, and give us a sense of whether or not we would like it. Vague reviews like:
"I absolutely loved this book. It was fun and interesting."
then giving it 5 stars feel fake and normally get ignored be everything except maybe Amazon's algorithms (Truth, no one has any clue how those crazy things work. Amazon probably doesn't either!)
But a review like this that I received for The Hunters is perfect (and not just because he gave me 5 stars!)
"I spent the entire night reading this and I'm going to say this, because I never get tired of it: I'm grateful for this author, because in this book: vampires maim, kill, drink blood, and actually fucking die when exposed to the sun. You know, things that hominus nocturna is supposed to do. So, if you're looking for disco ball vampires, you've come to the wrong author." Drago
He didn't have to write more than 1 paragraph. He gives a tight summary of who the book is for and who it isn't for. He demonstrated that it was an action packed read that he read in one night. I was sold right there!
Now, you can give more information if you like. Many reviewers write a nice synopsis, some list specific things they liked or didn't like about the book, who their favorite character was/ and or why. None of that is going to be wrong. Some reviewers (myself included) will pick at plot-holes, grammar, story-line. We are blog reviewers. That is our job. If those things matter to you, mention them. But no one is going to hate your review if you don't analyze those things!
Make it fun, make it mean, make it real. But please, please, please, make it a review! Writers need you!
Do you write reviews? What do you focus on? If you don't, what keeps you from writing a review? Let us know in the comments below.