Looks like it’s been over a year since I wrote a post with this exact same title… It seems like it’s come up since, but I also recognize that it’s one of my least favorite topics to discuss.
I know it’s come up in some form or another over the past year, especially considering how many reviews I’ve written in the days since I’ve last used this precise battle title…yet I feel as though I haven’t really even thought much about reviews in a very long time…so…why not talk about it? Right?
Nothing’s really changed, at least as far as the basics. Everyone believes that reviews are important to sell books. Obviously, it’s true…well…sorta. I mean, reviews don’t sell books, they complete the sale. When doing free book promotions for all my books at the same time, Buddy Hero still takes the cake for books moved, simply because it has the higher number of reviews attached.
But reviews do not sell books. Well, not unless those reviews are personal recommendations.
One of the larger issues with being an author is recognizing all the pieces that actually go into selling a book. Reviews are really such a small part of things.
Yet, authors (including yours truly) are so very good at focusing solely on one single thing. So, you know, you write a good book…once you’re done focusing with that, you beg and plead for everyone to read your books, and then you beg and plead for everyone to review them, and the you beg and plead for everyone to talk about them, and then…
You get the idea.
Reviews, however, have an extra sort of charm to them…they’re something we can obsess over long after we’ve finished asking for them; poring over every word for some sort of validation that those who think we’re terrible are somehow idiots, and that those who think we’re awesome aren’t just blowing smoke up our youknowwhats.
And I think that’s precisely where I find myself personally struggling with the concept of asking for reviews. There’s something about the whole process that seems so incredibly selfish. No matter how much you (or I) may ask for honest reviews, there’s always this sense that I will absolutely hate you for forever if you should give such a review.
But here’s the reality…yes, it will hurt, but it will hurt so much more for authors if they don’t recognize the truth early on…the truth, of course being, that not everyone will love them…if anyone.
Here’s an example of a very very odd review-type situation that I’ve come across in my own personal history. A little over a year ago, someone let me know that they had finished The Agora Files and were absolutely in love with it and anxiously awaiting the second book, forcefully telling me that I needed to release the second book now. A few weeks ago, the most vocal of those folks put up a rating for the book on Goodreads and gave it a two.
I talked to her personally and she told me how much she loved the book, yet, those two stars come about and…well, how should one take that?
Luckily for me, I’m a pretty large cynic when it comes to anyone telling me they love my books, so I wasn’t really all that badly hit by such a change in message…but it’s still an odd concept.
Reviews are a double-edged sword in so many ways for authors, but as above, they can be even more so when they are focused on the personal friend and family reviews.
But more importantly…they also are absolutely worthless unless you are able to get people to really truly care about your books.
As always…first step is to write a great book. Second one…find your actual audience. Your old English teacher is probably not all that interested in your hard dark fantasy novel and wouldn’t even begin to know who to tell to read it, should she decide to recommend it to anyone.
Reviews will come…
Of course…that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to find some people you aren’t connected to who will hook you up with some non-biased reviews to help your potential sellers.
Have fun out there!