I was listening to a podcast recently about handling reviews as an author and felt like it was a good topic to do a blog post about.
Reviews are vital for any author; they help prospective buyers get a better idea of whether a book is any good, as well as more of a feel for the kind of story it tells beyond the blurb. A blurb is a marketing spiel (yup, even mine) whereas a review is from the perspective of a buyer with no vested interest.
While vital, reviews are also tough to get. Most people that buy a book will not review it, regardless of whether they liked it or not, which is why you’ll often see authors and publishers put short notes at the end to encourage people to leave them.
Amazon reviews are probably the most important source for any independent author, as the majority of our sales come via Amazon (and many, like me, are exclusive to Amazon so that readers can access our books through Kindle Unlimited). So I check my reviews there fairly regularly.
But I understand that a lot of authors don’t. There are many reasons for this, like wasting time etc, but the main one seems to be the potential impact of reviews on us as authors.
I think I’m relatively thick-skinned and don’t take criticism badly, but even I suffer from reading a dreaded 1-star review where someone tears apart something that took me hundreds of hours to create. You might think that the much more numerous 5-star reviews balance that out, but in truth, it takes many to outweigh just one criticism, and they can be demotivating.
The reason I still read them is I do think there can be valid points that I may need to learn from, and I have definitely learnt things from them in the past. But sadly, most are just rants or diatribes about something not being to their liking. I haven’t suffered this too much on my series, but I’ve seen it on other authors’ books.
As an author, knowing yourself is most important, and if I ever felt weighed down by these, I would stop reading them, or at least do it infrequently while having a large glass of whisky with me.
If you’re a prospective author reading this, just know that we all get them, and you’ll find plenty of 1-star reviews on your favourite books which you’ll look at and conclude “This guy’s a moron. The book is great!”
If you’re a reader reading this, then just remember good reviews do help, and leaving them for books you like can really help an author’s career as well as give them a little boost if they happen to read it.