One of the tools that authors have always relied on, indeed that many have lived or died on (metaphorically speaking), is the priceless Reader Review.
In this new eBook environment we live in, this is easier than ever, and arguably more important than ever. Let’s face it, when you go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords, what’s one of the key indicators to help you decide if a book is worth your hard-earned entertainment dollar?
Yes, you can sample the book online, reading the first several pages, or even chapters, of the book. I always do this now. Indeed, I wouldn’t think of buying a book from an unknown author without doing so. The next thing I look at are the reviews. If there are only a couple of them, I assume—fairly or not—that those are from the author’s brother, or girlfriend, or husband, or favored pet. If there are several of them, I read them and get a better sense of whether I want to try the book.
And so, if you purchase (or pick up free) an indie author’s eBook, and you don’t leave a review, you’re making it harder for that author to succeed. Why should you care? Well, Dear Reader, if you like the author’s work, but that author fails and decides to just stick with the day job, you’ll lose a source of pleasant entertainment.
Thus, if you’d like to help out this poor starving author, or any other, please take a moment to post ratings and/or reviews. In my case, you can do so at:
For Forgive Me, Alex: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble ; Smashwords ; Goodreads.
For Paradox: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble ; Smashwords ; Goodreads.
For Devane’s Reality: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble ; Smashwords ; Goodreads.
For Wind Tunnel: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble ; Smashwords ; Goodreads.
For Well-Suited Sentry: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble ; Smashwords ; Goodreads.
For Evolution: Vol. 1: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble ; Smashwords ; Goodreads.
For Evolution: Vol. 2: Amazon ; Barnes and Noble ; Smashwords ; Goodreads.
So rate and review to your heart’s desire, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I rate everything I read on Goodreads, but I don’t always have time to review. One of my goals for this year is to sit down and add reviews to everything I’ve rated — if I do just two a day, I can have it done by the end of the year, I think.
The one thing that might make people hesitant to leave reviews on indie authors is the amount of controversy surrounding reviews at the moment. I myself have seen way too many authors treating the readers like a commodity — ie, dictating how reviews should be written, or not at all. Don’t leave less than 4 stars. Don’t make negative comments. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all. Many authors then threaten reviewers with some sort of quid-pro-quo thing — if I leave a bad review (and of course, it’s up to the author to define “bad”), I could find myself at the end of a very short stick.
I’ve had both good and bad experiences with reviews. I’ve left people 3 stars — but written up a detailed explanation as to why — and gotten positive responses from the author, which I appreciate. I’ve also left 3 stars and been dropped by the author on Twitter immediately. It’s at the point where if I don’t think I could honestly leave a glowing review (but wouldn’t leave a blistering one, either), I’m not sure I should bother. (This is also the reason I refuse to accept free review copies — from anyone, indie or no. The pressure to release a good review is too high.)
As for where to post reviews — I’ve never rated anything on Smashwords, I always choose Goodreads. Is that a mistake? I don’t like Smashwords’ UI and spend as much time away from the site (ie, buying books on my iPad) as I possibly can. I honestly do want to help authors, so would it be worthwhile to copy & paste my Goodreads reviews over to Smashwords?
Lora, thanks for the thoughtful comments.
I agree that fellow writers tread dangerously when they leave a negative review — payback, and all that. Not everyone is honorable. I try to take the approach that honesty is always the best policy, but having said that, I’ve shied away from leaving negative reviews a couple times because I just didn’t want to deal with the hassle. I’ve left reviews ranging from 2 to 5 stars, and try to be detailed, no matter the rating.
As to posting reviews at more than just Goodreads, I do think it helps authors to have reviews everywhere their books are available. So if you’re one of those kind souls willing to take a couple extra minutes to copy & paste your reviews at the other sites, I’m sure the authors will be most grateful.