Reviews: A necessary evil?

I’m flying a bit high today – you see, I got my first independent review yesterday. A fellow #writingcommunity follower from Twitter read THREE of my works and wrote her opinion on them. (Check out her blog for the review.) I am elated to have reached this pinnacle of writing, that other authors are starting to notice me and also be critical of what I wrote. Though that frightens me, I know it is part of the writing world and I am happy to be in it.

The post I made for my Facebook and Instagram story yesterday.

There are a great deal to be said about reviews. Even the most critical reviews pique someone’s interest in a work. People may deride the “buzz” about certain things, for instance Taylor Swift’s new album, but reviews and buzz help garner attention, which in turn helps garner more people buying, listening, reading, etc.

It’s why I try to leave a review for every work I read now.

Reviews can be hard to write, even for a writer like me. I call them my “book reports” because they are, in a sense, the same as the ones I wrote for my elementary school classes. They have elements of the critical thinking and devices I picked up in secondary and post-secondary writing and language art classes along the years. I’m still learning to write the perfect reviews, which is why at the moment I stick to only the reviews I leave on Amazon and GoodReads for others to track. I don’t think I am as critical a reader as others are to leave blog reviews just yet, so I leave those up to others who feel more strongly about it.

Answering the question about what did I enjoy about a read is hard when the book is boring to me and believe me, I have read a few of them over the past year or so. But I do try to find something good to say about every book I have read. Giving away portions of the plot WITHOUT giving spoilers is also difficult. But I try my best. It is, after all, something that gets better with practice.

Sometimes, I dislike a book myself. Either the book is so poorly written I decide not to leave a review at all or even say I have read the book, or the genre is not something I want to read. (Tangent here – I will try to read just about anything though to help a friend out!) I have learned that grimdark fantasy and horror and, to some extent, poetry are not my favorite genres, but I know of others who WOULD enjoy the book better than I, so I try to explain in my works that while I did not get enjoyment out of the work, they would.

Reviews can be a boon for anyone, but especially for independent authors, they are an enormous help. They help get others interested and reading. Yet, for every ten people who read any book, roughly only one regularly leaves a review (I got my stats from this blogger’s survey). Many times, the other nine don’t know what to say in a review or don’t have the time or the skills to leave a review. And that is understandable. But, as an author, I would love to know what you thought of my work, even if it’s just a few lines.

But I will never EVER pay for a review – unfortunately though, others feel they must to get more interest. But that’s a subject of a different blog post of mine you can read if you are interested.

This is what I typically do when reading a book…. If a line is especially well written, I underline or highlight it – it’s easier to do in a Kindle book for me since the option is there, of course, but some of the print books I am keeping (i.e. those I bought vs. borrowed) also end up getting marked in and then flagged with a sticky note of some sort. I also will write down a thought I have or a emotion I am feeling (or note it somewhere) while reading. For example:

Example of one of the notes I did for the book Tropical Punch: Bubbles in Space by S. C. Jensen. I had this thought while reading it on my lunch break at work and knew I wanted to include it in my review.

**Forgive the grammar and spelling mistakes and the chicken scratch – since this was just a quick thought I didn’t want to forget, I just jotted it down in a notebook and kept reading.**

I’m aware that not everyone is willing or able to do a review. Time constraints, the aversion to book reports of the past, not being a writer, etc. make it difficult for some. But Amazon in particular now allows Kindle readers to rate a book with stars WITHOUT leaving a review when one is done reading. GoodReads, if one is connected to it, will also do the same thing. I’m not sure if it does the same for paperbacks. I do know, however, that both Amazon and GoodReads also allow you to go back and leave a review later. If you want to do that and don’t know how…. Google is always your friend on figuring that out (dear Google, how do I leave a review?)

I am grateful for the reviews I have received, even the verbal ones friends have given me after reading my stories. I actually use them as best as I can to help garner more interest in my work, since I am learning to be a better marketer of myself (introverted here so that is difficult!!) I made a recent “advertisement” for my first novel in my Portals Series using some of the reviews I received for it.

Since the ad says to see link for details, here is the link:

So dear readers, I encourage you, if you are able, to start thinking about leaving reviews for the books you read to help the authors out. If you can’t do that, at least share them as you are able with whomever you think will love them. Pass the word on to others. Like a post on social media for a creative. Share their work with the world, even if it’s just a small corner of it. It helps those struggling to get their names out, no matter how big or small a fish they are in the world of creatives. And they will be grateful for it. I know I am.

Stay magical, friends. And keep writing your own stories!

If you liked this blog post, comment below! Share with others, if you dare. Subscribe to my blog for updates! Visit my “About me” page if you want to contact me.

If you wanted to see some of the fantasy works I have written, check out my Portals Series.

If you are interested in my other online endeavors, check out the drop down menu to see more.

And as always, #writeyourownstory

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