On Reviews

download-3Reviews can be the lifeblood of an author. I’m not sure readers understand just how dramatic a role they can play in a book’s longevity. The number of reviews a book garners raises its discoverability on sales outlets, which means more people will be able to see and potentially buy it. Reviews equate with sales. Most of us read reviews before trying an unknown author. The Amazon ranking is a convoluted algorithm no one but Amazon can figure out. But we do know this: sales, the number of reviews (the more recent the better) and the overall review score are three factors that improve a book’s ranking. The better the rank, the more likely a book will hit Amazon Charts (most sold or most read), which are widely advertised to potential readers.

Readers love series. The more successful a book is, the more likely a publisher will be interested in buying more connected books. And if it’s an indie published book, an author has to consider sales when planning whether a series is worth pursuing.

Some things to remember when posting a review:

–In a five star system, one star is the lowest and five is the highest. Yes, it seems elementary, but I received a glowing review for Deep as the Dead from someone who chose 1-star. The reviewer was obviously confused.

–Don’t review a book you haven’t read. Really, what would the review be based on? One author with a current book out this month got a 1-star review within hours of the book going live. The reviewer hadn’t read the book; he or she was taking the opportunity to bash the author because his mother is a famous writer and the assumption was that the author hadn’t *earned* the privilege of having a book published. (He’s published several other books and won several awards.) Another reviewer took the author to task for labeling the novel as book 1 in a series, claiming that he can’t possibly know if he’s ever going to write that series or not. (Hint: of course he can.)

–Reviewers should choose the ranking they believe the book deserves. Even a well-written negative review can help an author learn what did or didn’t work for readers in a given story. Some people consider choosing the stars for the review as being similar to selecting a grade. It isn’t. C might be an average grade, but only 4s and 5s are considered positive reviews. 1s, 2s and 3s are deemed critical reviews. (And I only recently learned this!)

–Keep it concise. You may or may not choose to include a short synopsis of the story. If the book has a lot of reviews, that becomes redundant. But do make sure to include what you liked about the book and why, or what didn’t work for you, and why. That helps other readers make their purchasing decisions. For instance, if a book was marked down because it was darker than the reviewer likes, the first thing I’m going to think looking at it is, “Sweet! The darker the better!” Lol. But it would warn off other potential buyers with similar sensibilities. We all go into a book with a different set of expectations. A review allows one to say whether their expectation was met.

–Reviews are not the place to complain that the book didn’t download properly, pages are missing, the book downloaded but wasn’t ordered, etc. The sale sites have places to bring up these issues. Customer service doesn’t hang out on the review page. They can’t respond to complaints that aren’t addressed in the proper venue.

–Other things you might include are why you bought the book, your favorite / least favorite character or part (and why), if you would recommend the book and whether you’re interested in reading more of the author’s books.

Reviews are powerful tools. I use them all the time, whether I’m looking for books, clothes, household products, etc. I’ve learned to read the negative reviews as thoroughly as I do the positive ones to determine whether I would care about the objections raised. (Quality of fabric? Comfort? Yes, I’d care. The fact that the heel is too low? Not so much.)

If you enjoy a book and want to be alerted when the author has another one out, type in the author’s name on Amazon. A list of books will come up and so will the Amazon Author’s Page. Click on it and below the author’s picture is a follow button. If you press it, Amazon will send you an automatic alert with each new release.

Personally, I prefer sites that demand at least a few words in review, rather than just allowing reviewers to rank a book without comment. It’s a way to determine that the reviewer has, indeed, read the novel. And a poor ranking, without citing the reviewer’s objections to the book, doesn’t help other readers make their choice.

Use your superpower: leave a book review today!


2 thoughts on “On Reviews”

  1. WillaWilla

    Great post, wish sites would post the same on the review page! OK – have ‘followed’ you on Amazon, didn’t know I could do that! ?

    • Kylie BrantKylie Brant

      It’s a quick and easy way to be sure you never miss a new book. Amazon will send me an email saying, “Do you want your followers to be alerted?” Well, duh! Of course I do!

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