So, I just got done bashing Goodreads and now I want to talk “off the record” about reviews. Y’all, authors need reviews, period. We have gotten to the point where we just come out and ask for them. But why are they so important?
Digital marketing has gotten so complex and competitive that it’s nearly impossible to be seen. I’ve come across a litany of so-called promotional sites that will only list your book IF YOU HAVE (SOME NUMBER) OF 4+ STAR REVIEWS. What? I suppose you could make the argument that the books who need exposure are those without any reviews but this is still ‘Merica and this is a free market…so some have learned to manipulate it.
Some will use bots, some will pay for reviews, and I’m sure there are a ton of questionable practices out there, including ganging up on an author and leaving unwarranted bad reviews to wreck any career they have. So let me say this: it’s not a competition. A review for a certain author doesn’t take away a review from a different author.
Reviewing is hard. If you didn’t like the book, should you go back online and leave a poor review? Maybe, if what you didn’t like might be something that lots of people wouldn’t like. If you loved the book, do you leave a good review? Maybe, if you think more people would enjoy what you read. My guidelines: if I liked the book, I’ll at least leave a star rating. If it’s something I didn’t like, I really consider why I didn’t like it. If others have already reviewed it on that basis, I won’t leave a rating or review. It’s hard to tell you what to say in a review, beside to leave one.
The bottom line is this: authors need reviews (albeit good reviews) so that we can promote more widely. We are trying to make some $$$ here, not entertaining a hobby. Any author who has the guts to put something into the public sphere should be respected if only for the hutzpah and perseverance required. Yes, we also truly want to know that people enjoyed about the book, and that’s another kind of reward.
My plea: leave an honest review and let us deal with what the content of your review does to our delicate baby egos.