I used to be very lazy about writing reviews. Mostly because I felt it was a waste of my online time.  I try not to spend hours and hours on the Internet, so I pick and choose how I spend my online time. Examples:

*Twitter gets two minutes at a time, set by my clock’s timer. I check in a few times a day, but don’t like to get sucked into the time warp of social media.

*Leaving Facebook has helped immeasurably with avoiding the time warp of social media.

*I might make a list of things I need to do online, like visit a favorite message board, or balance my checkbook, or pick up a specific gift on Amazon.

I am not trying to be terribly rigid about this, but it’s a process I’ve found over time that works for me, and allows me more time to do things I enjoy, like reading a book, or knitting and listening to a podcast. I hear so many people say, “I can’t remember the last time I read a whole book.” I think that is so very sad. I mean, reading isn’t equally enjoyable for everyone, but when it’s coming from someone I know used to enjoy reading… yes, that’s sad. And I fully believe it is a side effect of spending too much time attached to our smart phones, that it’s changing our brains. But that’s a whole other rant….

So, I didn’t write many reviews, because it takes up a lot of time….  time that I may or may not want to be spending online.

Now that I’m publishing on Amazon, though, I realize how important user reviews are. The publishing world has changed so much and so quickly – user reviews are probably what sells more copies of a book than anything.

Consider how you shop for new books. Do you ever find yourself scrolling through, looking at the cover, then looking at how many stars the book got? And if you see a few 5-star reviews at the top, you figure “Why not?” and pop it in your cart, but if you see 3 or 4 star reviews, you move along?

So I really am making an effort to write reviews more now, especially for my friends and up-and-coming talents. I saw a friend give a mutual friend a 2-star review on Goodreads, and I thought that was just rude. I mean, you’re actively hurting your friend’s sales. Why?

I’m not saying you should give great reviews if you don’t mean it – but if you hate a book, and you wish that author well, why give a poor review? Just mark it read and move on. Leave your negativity somewhere else, unless you’re getting paid to do reviews for the Times. I know people will feel differently about this, but if you are going to give a review, and you think it’s good and you hope the author will sell more books, give it 5 stars and write some kind details in your review.

It is really, really hard to sell books these days, and I think authors need extra support.

This turned into a bit more of a rant than I intended it to be… but I really hope people understand how important their words are. You are not just putting your opinions on the review site for your own entertainment, or to show your friends how clever you are – you are directly contributing to the success or failure of that writer.

Take it seriously.

2 responses »

  1. I have to share your opinion. I usually leave a bad review to warn people of impending doom. But not for friends. IMHO, leaving a 5-star review is as good as leaving a 1-star review. They are both so extreme as to be non-reviews. You mother leaves you a 5-star review. There’s no information there. You blindly loved this thing and you could find no fault with it. Worthless information.

    If I like something you’ve done, I’ll leave you a 4-star review. That is a review worth reading. You’re going to learn something useful from a 4-star review. What was good – and might match what you’re looking for. As well as what was not so good. This gives the reader a chance to self-compare and see if the not-so-good matters.

    If you’re a friend and I don’t like your work, I might leave a 5-star review and talk about only the good stuff. Because, hey, you’re a friend. But if your work sucks and I don’t know you, a two-star review is in order. (And a one-star review if you’ve really pissed me off).

    And worst of all, if I read your stuff and you’re clearly an amateur, I’m going to leave no review whatsover.

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