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Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Importance of Reviews

When you leave a review for an author after reading a book, you are not only just giving a rating.  You're telling the author one of three things.  You're telling them that the genre or style they used in this particular book is something they did well, something they need to work on and develop, OR you're telling them they need to try something altogether different.  Writing is a craft--a practice, if you will.  A writer cannot develop their craft without proper feedback and practice, thus a reader holds all of the cards.  Despite the politics of Amazon allowing some reviews and not others or Goodreads having their instances in which 'trolls' try to drag down an author, somewhere in there are those of you who speak the truth.  Those of you who wield the sword of honor and integrity.  You are the ones that must help authors wage the battle as they work hard to bring you books.  The indie community is one filled with every spectrum of writer--from the ones who have a GREAT story idea, but no concept in how to truly express it to those who are very proficient and practically literary geniuses before their time.

Look at music.  Let's say you LOVE hard rock, but do you love EVERY hard rock song ever put out?  Does every song KORN sing speak to you?  No, no one loves every song by an artist, but they like the beat of the type of music.

Books are the same way.  You may love romance or science fiction, but you don't love every romance novel ever written.  You may even LOVE the work of Nora Roberts and Meredith Wild, but you can't stand a certain book.  That's okay.  It really is, but WHY do you dislike that one book or that one song?  This is where reviews come in.  You get to explain to the author why this one book they put out isn't your cup of tea.  YOU, the reader, get to speak directly through the author via reviews.  I assure you--authors read the reviews.  Yes, they really do.  YOU, the reader, get to say things like, "Hey, I really liked the pace you started out with in ______________, but you really ended it in a hurry.  I have to rate it only 2 stars.  I'm disappointed."

Oh, look!  That type of review is short, sweet, and to the point.  It's also not flooded with hate.  You don't have to BE an author to construct a decent review.  You just have to be someone who can form an opinion--a sentient being.

Yes, Amazon has problems with their review policy.  If you link your social media with Amazon, they look to see if you are 'friends' with an author.  This is being dealt with.  Anne Rice is even raising hell about it.  Just make sure that until a solution is reached, you don't link your social media to your Amazon account.  

Let's talk about trolls.

Goodreads.  A lot of authors have stopped using Goodreads because there are those on Goodreads who seek out to use the review platform as a means to attack an author.  While this is wrong, Goodreads has done little about it.  THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN!  You, my dear readers, are the wielders of the sword of integrity.  YOU can report abusive reviews.  THAT will get them removed.  You can even report the troll if you notice a pattern.  I'm not trying to send you on a reporting spree.  Let me give an example.

A dear friend of mine wrote a literary erotica novel some time back.  The majority of her reviews were all 5 star ratings.  Then, the trolls hit.  These eejits ADMITTED to not reading the book, yet had the audacity to rate it as a 1 star and complain about the storyline.  If you didn't read the book, HOW can you rate the storyline?  After that, this individual had her friends join in.  These people didn't even read the sample!!!!  HOW ON EARTH can you rate a book and not even read the sample?

So you wonder where you come in here, right?  Well, there's a saying that you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover.  I'd like to add to that.  Don't judge a book by it's overall rating.  Read the actual reviews.  Read the synopsis.  Read the blurb.  If something catches your eye that makes you think YOU might be interested in this, buy the book.  Most e-books cost less than a cup of coffee from Starbucks.  $2.99 is NOT a bad price, nor is $3.99.  The majority of e-books cost a whopping $0.99 nowadays.  Now THAT is not a huge loss if you just one-click the book.  It tells the author, "Hey, I'm taking a chance on you.  I'll let you know what I think."  If you really think the book sucked, let the author know why.  They could be a good 'technical' writer, but maybe the genre is just wrong for them.  I know some authors who can write in any genre they want to.  I know others who can't write out of the tiny box they exist in (not a bad thing), but the author will NEVER know what you think if you don't leave a review.  All it takes is about 3 to 5 minutes of your time.  It took the author much longer to write that book for your enjoyment.  Just 3-5 minutes to say "I loved it" or "I didn't love it".

So come on my beautiful people....I'll review if you do!!!