Wednesday on Writing: Does My Review Really Matter?

Summer Sale!! During the month of July, all my books and stories will be on sale at SmashwordsThree, including the first two stories in my urban fantasy series, The Yo-Yo Files, are free. My short fantasy collection is half off, as is my latest sci-fi novel, Two’s Company. My first novel, Circle Unbroken, is at even more of a discount. Ebooks are available in many formats. The sale begins July 1 and ends July 31. I hope you find something that interests you, and please tell your friends.

I have done posts on reviews before, but I think it’s good to do a reminder once in a while. To answer the header question:

Yes. Yes, dear reader, your review matters.

Think of it this way. When you decide it’s time to get a new coffeemaker, or lawn mower, or kitchen knife, what do you do? You start looking at what’s out there, you decide what features are important, you narrow down a price range. And then you look at the reviews. I know when I am doing this, I look at both the good and some of the bad reviews. I want to know the thing works, does what it’s supposed to do, and that it’s worth the money. And the less than fabulous reviews can reveal the flaws in something, or they can simply be things that I don’t care about. (The knife handle is actually more gray than solid black? Eh. If you care, fine, but I don’t.)

People looking for a book to read do the same thing. You probably did, especially with the number of books out there today. It’s overwhelming. Readers look at reviews to help them choose a book they are going to enjoy, and to filter out the ones that may not be right for them.

So, yes, your review helps. I know some people think they can’t write a review or are afraid to give less than 5 stars, but here’s the thing. Most writers are not asking everyone to leave 5 star reviews. In fact, anything that has a bunch of reviews that are all 5 star will be suspected of padding the reviews. We want you to be honest. If you liked the book but it isn’t going to make your top ten all time favorites, give it 4 or 3 stars. Still says you liked it and that’s the important thing. As for the review itself, it doesn’t have to rival the ones in the New York Times. A few sentences saying what you liked (interesting characters, fun plot, great setting, lots of action, etc.) is perfect. It all helps.

Okay, what about the ones you don’t like. From my seat here at the desk, if my book wasn’t your thing, that’s fine. We all like different things. What I would ask is that you give at least a little explanation why you didn’t like it. That can be just as valuable to a potential reader as a glowing review. Remember that kitchen knife up above? If you didn’t like some aspect of a book, that may not matter to someone else. Another person may decide that’s not something they will enjoy. It’s fine. Very few writers are going to complain if they get a not so great review. And any that do are not very professional. It happens to everyone. Stephen King gets bad reviews. George R.R. Martin gets bad reviews. J.K. Rowling gets droves of them. None of them seem to be hurting from it.

So, yes, please. Read, enjoy, review. Be honest. Be fair. Be polite. And thank you.

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