You’re here, reading my blog. Perhaps it’s silly, but I assume that means you like to read. Fantastic! Here’s a bit of something you may not realize: reviewing the books you read is important. Reviews don’t just stroke (or decimate, depending) the ego of the author. They are a metric used by the author to determine if s/he is reaching an audience. Sales are an indicator of volume, yes, but not of whether or not an author’s work makes a connection with his/her audience. They’re also used by many readers browsing Amazon, Smashwords, OmniLit and the like, to judge the readability of a particular book and/or author. Some sites factor in reviews in the algorithms that determine ranking and therefore visibility (which correlates with the opportunity to make a sale). Reviews are important. If you read, you should review.
“But I don’t know how to write a review.” (I can hear you across cyberspace, ’cause I’m magic like that.) It really isn’t that difficult. You’re not writing the Great American Novel or hoping for the Pulitzer Prize when you write a review. You’re giving your honest opinion of the book. Here are a few examples of perfectly acceptable reviews:
“I really liked this book. I stayed up all night reading it because I had to know if the guy gets the girl/the serial killer gets caught before he kills the little kid/the bad guy turns out to be good guy after all/the good guy turns out to be the bad guy after all.”
“This book wasn’t a good read. There were lots of spelling errors and that distracted from the story. I liked the idea, but the telling was clumsy.”
“The main character drew me in immediately, and the use of symbolism tied the seemingly random things that happened into a coherent whole. The setting was well-described, and the action paced in a way that kept me turning pages/flicking my Kindle. I plan to read more of this author’s work.”
See? Not so hard, is it? You can do it.
“But I don’t have time to do all that.” Piffle. You’re reading this blog post. You could be writing a review instead. Granted, there are days when you really can’t. I understand that completely. I have those days myself. But Scarlet O’Hara. “There’s always tomorrow.” The time is there. You just have to use it reviewing even if that means putting off cleaning out the fridge for five minutes. I’m not one of those driven, gotta fill every minute folks who’d tell you to keep a notepad in the car and scribble reviews at traffic lights or something. (That shit’s unhealthy: the “I can sleep when I’m dead” mentality is going to push you to that state a lot quicker than you’d otherwise get there.) Take the time. The author will be grateful, even if the review is less than stellar. (Most of us anyway. There are a few ….)
“I don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings.” Guess what? Your lack of reviewing did just that already. I know several authors who write beautiful books, exquisite in both language and story, and yet the lack of reviews has them considering giving writing up altogether. That’s a goddamned shame, because the world would be a much duller, flatter place without their words huffing life into it, making us think, ripping our insides out and putting them back together in a way that is somehow more whole than we were before we read their work. Superb writers, looking at quitting because they are discouraged over the lack of reviews. That should make you feel guilty for all the reviews you haven’t written.
Do it. Head to Amazon or Smashwords or OmniLit, or wherever you buy your books (you aren’t using a pirate site, are you? But that’s another post, for another day.) and write those reviews. Don’t worry about writing a masterpiece. I’ll tell you the same thing I tell people who come to me saying they want to “be a writer” — write. Just write. Give the world your opinion. It does matter, in some cases, a very great deal.
Shoo. Go review something you’ve read.