The Importance of Leaving Reviews

When you imagine an author begging for reviews, you probably think of a self-published author. Generally you don’t see traditionally published authors asking for reviews, and this is because they have a team that does the asking for them and it all happens ‘behind the scenes’, where you, as a consumer, are left clueless.

In the self-publishing field we have to do all our own marketing.

Reviews are literally the lifeblood of our marketing. Word-of-mouth is everything in any industry, but as a self-published author reviews are how we prove ourselves. Our work is made or broken on the back of impartial reviews. But why are reviews such a big deal?

Make one customer happy and they’re happy, make one customer angry and they’ll tell everyone they know.

Reviews Get Us Noticed

On sites like Amazon, reviews determine how visible you are on the site. The more reviews you have, the more ‘items like this’ and etc. lists you’ll show up in. From a purely marketing standpoint, reviews are necessary.

Reviews Confirm Our Work

People have this idea that traditional novels are somehow superior because they’ve had to go through the process of being accepted by a traditional publishing team but let’s be honest, some traditionally published books aren’t good. Traditional novels aren’t guaranteed to be good, or even nicely packaged (I’ve seen some terrible traditionally published covers), but people think they are. Reviews are validation, they are our way of showing the wary reader that our work is worth their time.

“If you liked a novel the best way you can say thank you to the author is to drop them a rating and review”

Reviews Can Help

They can show us where we’ve taken a wrong step. Many self-published authors take this very seriously and go through arduous editing and proofing processes but others are perhaps a bit naive and think they can write and publish without any extensive editing process. Reviews are especially important to show us when we’ve skipped a step or missed something, but also to warn other readers what to expect.

Reviews are really our biggest and most important form of marketing. If you liked a novel the best way you can say thank you to the author is to drop them a rating and review on your chosen platform for such things.

Now, on a side note;

Be Thoughtful In Your Feedback

Back in the day, before I published my first novel, I read and reviewed a number of self-published novels. I was in a group specifically for self-published authors and I wanted to try and help them out as a reader.

I was open, honest, and sometimes brutal in my reviews. If a work was poorly edited (I don’t mean missing commas, I mean switching from first person to third in the same paragraph, breaking the fourth wall inadvertently and other egregious errors), if the story had glaring plot holes or errors, I would point these out.

I regret making these reviews public. They were fairly … extensive. More like a peer critique than a review in all honesty. I can’t imagine how rough it was to receive these in a public forum. At the time I felt it was my responsibility to let other readers know how poorly the novel had been prepared and honestly it was annoying to me that I had spent money on novels that were so horribly put together but I still feel I should have messaged the author privately and given them a chance to correct things behind the scenes.

Shortly after I released my first novel I received a number of private messages from well meaning people who had picked apart every error in my novel and wanted to let me know. Thankfully the errors they were finding were things like a missed comma here or a perceived missed comma there. I even had someone point out a ‘plot hole’ before finishing the story, a plot hole that wasn’t a hole because it gets resolved in the rest of the story. But they meant well and I appreciate that they took the time to try and help. I even implemented some of the edits they suggested.

I am forever grateful that they dropped this feedback in my pms instead of as a review.

Live and learn. Now that I’ve seen both sides I wouldn’t leave reviews like I used to.

Phew! This has been one mouthful of a post.

To summarize:

Please leave reviews. Even for traditionally published novels. It is the quickest and simplest way you can say thank you.

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