Listen folks. It’s time we have an honest conversation about reviews. Yep, reviews. You know that screen that pops up at the end of your ebook asking you to rate what you read that you quickly bypass because who the hell has the time?
This blog will be in 2 parts: Part 1 for readers, part 2 for writers
Readers, it is your time.
So why are we talking about reviews, Heather? I have a Netflix binge of Haven to start.
Answer: How great is Haven?! #TeamDuke
Leaving a review for a book/author you love is the most important thing you can do for that author!
How? What? Why?!
I’ve tried to think of many ways to explain this, besides just screaming out, “BECAUSE ALGORITHMS AND SH*T!!” But, I find that Gwen Whiting, author of The Universal Mirror, said it best in her blog, A Few Words:
Around 20-25 reviews, Amazon starts including the book in “also bought” and “you might like” lists. This increases your chances of someone finding your title.
Around 50-70 reviews, Amazon looks at your book for spotlight positions and the newsletter. This is HUGE. This is my personal goal although I use Amazon reviews for other reasons (more later on in this post).
Number of reviews may affect Amazon sales ranking. (Again, this is anecdotal–I have no actual proof of it.)
Some websites will not consider or promote your book unless you have a number of reviews on the page (this is very true of those sites that highlight free promos—I can attest to this).
And, of course, readers may read through your reviews and decide to purchase or not purchase the book based on this.
(Note: This blog is from 2012, so I’m not sure if the numbers have changed, nor does it include Kindle Unlimited. It does, however, give you an overview of how Amazon’s algorithms work.)
So that review you don’t care about leaving?
That review can make an author. Word of mouth is the most powerful tool! You can have your a** on the cover of (name popular fashion magazine here), but if people aren’t willing to spend their hard earned cash buying what you’re selling, it doesn’t matter. But when you have one hundred 4 and 5 star reviews, then people are way more likely to take the risk.
What if you hated the book? Should you still leave a review?
My opinion? Yes. BUT, leave a review like your boss will see it (chances are, they probably will. I’ve gotten paid to social media stalk potential hires.) Bad reviews can still bring in readers. Just don’t leave a rude, condescending, or bullying review.
If you chose to leave a review on a book you do not like, always give constructive criticism. This helps an author learn what their audience wants.
Example: I think the author did a wonderful job creating three-dimensional characters, however, their journey wasn’t as compelling as I hoped. I think it may have appealed to me more if so-and-so did this-thing-here.
Let’s look at this example. I led with a positive point. Find something in the story you liked (tone, dialogue, setting, characters, etc). Then, I stated why I personally had an issue with something and what I would have liked to see. I wrote it this way because it truly is MY opinion.
Why is this important? Because everyone experiences life differently. Neither of you may be right, but neither of you may be wrong. Don’t look like a fool, I will mock you. For a great
mock example of this, check out Part 2 next week.
Social media makes cyber bullying and personal attacks very easy. The same sites that bring authors and readers closer together can be used to stab the authors in the back a moment later. If you can’t say anything nice, just leave a star rating and move on.
I refuse to sugarcoat, Heather!
Good point! I’m not saying you should sugarcoat. I’m saying R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
This person just wrote a book. They bled onto the pages. I’m just reminding you that authors, even JK Rowling, are human. I am of the mind that Cinderella’s (2015) “Have Courage and Be Kind” motto is the way to go. You can still give a poor review while respecting yourself and the author.
That hardcore-cooler-than-you-all-knowing-b*tch streak that all the guys thought was hot on my former college friend? Not cute after your early 20’s. Don’t be that person.
People love the person who can say what they mean in a respectful way. This is also a good life lesson. You’re welcome.
What do you do if you know the author but didn’t like their work?
This is a very touchy situations that depends entirely on your relationship with the author. Are you casual acquaintances? Are you besties? Are you in the same writing group?
Before offering to leave a public review (or Facebook comment, Instagram, Tweet, etc), think about how your words will affect your relationship. A negative review of a book that has three reviews is far more detrimental than a negative review of a book that has three-hundred.
No review is ever worth a friendship.
1) Find something positive and base your review around that. Mention what you didn’t like in a respectful way.
2) Ask them why they did something or to explain something you’re confused about.
3) Don’t leave a review. Be prepared to explain why.
4) Don’t accept free books in exchange for reviews from close friends.
5) Leave a review on the positive aspects of the book, but then reach out to the author about what you didn’t like, so they can improve.
If you’re not sure how to proceed, sit on it a few days.
What if there’s something like a formatting issue?
Contact the author directly! If you don’t have their contact, go through their website or social media.
As an example, an ARC reader contacted my author group about our anthology because our grammar was terrible. Confused, since we all had gone through three edits, we found our formatter had cut off the ends of sentences! We also found one hilarious-but-terrible mistake in the book. Because a reviewer reached out to us, we were able to correct the issues before we went to print.
I have more questions! What should I do?
No problem! Leave me questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them 🙂 Remember, this is all my own opinion from my own experience.
Stay tuned for part 2 when I dive into the other side of the pool — how to deal with bad reviews as an author. And a healthy dose of mocking.
Stayed tuned for part 2 on July 23 –
Fun fact alert! July 16, 2015 is known for:
- National Spinach Day
That may not be spinach, but really, who cares?!
Wishing You Laughter & Good Books,
Bold. Bewitching. Breathtaking.
Author of Hunting Witch Hazel featured in Falling Hard (A New Adult Anthology).