Last week I wrote about the perils of being an indie author and the efforts necessary to get one’s work noticed. Another way for readers to help spread the word about favored books is through reviews. Constructive criticism is a necessary aspect of writing, or any form of art for that matter. However, many people don’t seem to understand the difference between a meaningful response and a spiteful one.
Leaving a review reflects the author’s work, not the website. For example, I’ve scanned reviews when looking to purchase a book from an unfamiliar author (I don’t like cussing or explicit violence so I read reviews to avoid these things). Generally, I skim a handful of positive responses before reading one and two star ratings in order to get a well-rounded perspective before making my choice. Sadly, I find many of the one and two star reviews to be complaints about the website. Comments such as “took too long to ship,” or “book was damaged” are typical. These aspects have nothing to do with the author yet they lower his/her rating and can prevent future purchases. On one occasion, I received a two star review from someone who hadn’t read my book but was upset because my publisher had included ‘juvenile fiction’ as a category for sales purposes. My work is not juvenile fiction but is safe for young people to read because there is no cussing or violence. This review lowered my overall rating significantly and thus potential sales.
As an unknown author, ratings and reviews are an essential part of marketing (even better, it’s free). I don’t mind a constructive critique (as writers we’re always looking for ways to improve our craft, therefore intelligent suggestions are welcome). However, negative feedback directed at the company shipping the merchandise or the publisher’s choice of marketing is nothing more than vindictive rhetoric. Good reviews enhance sales and raise an author’s ranking and promotional opportunities on book selling websites. The more reviews, the better.
While the gift giving portion of Christmas is over, the life and work of an indie author continues. We’re exhausted from promoting our works online, attending book signing events, and delivering copies to family and friends (I’m not complaining-it’s great fun-but it does wear one out). Our work never ends, no matter the day or season. Please consider leaving a review on Amazon.com, B&N.com, and/or Goodreads (especially if you liked the book). A few moments of your time will lead readers to a great story and help promote an indie author!