5 Things I Have Learned About E-Book Reviews

  1. Authors NEED Your Reviews.  Maybe not famous authors (like J.K. Rowling, she’s doing fairly well), but those writing for a small genre e-press or the independent e-publishers really need reviews.  Really, really need those reviews.  If by some chance someone from their social media circle looks their book up, OR they get browsed while someone is swiping through pages and pages of books of a favorite genre, the number and rating of the reviews can make or break that sale.  Most readers learn to shy away from zero to few reviews, or if the reviews are all low stars.  (I’ve learned the hard way that these rough draft monstrosities–typed by a monkey and formatted on LSD–are often not worth the money they’re printed on.  Get it?  Printed?  Sorry.)
  2. Authors Need Hard Numbers.  The numbers game is always changing, and it’s hard to find hard data, but the word on the street is that currently 25 reviews will put an author on the “you might also like” Amazon list.  Fifty puts them in the running for feature exposure and other benefits. Sixty is the minimum rumored for BookBub, often cited as one of the most helpful platforms.  (Personally, already having sixty reviews sounds fairly successful, but I guess it’s just the start of becoming the next big thing.)
  3. Authors Shall Not Engage Their Reviewers.  Thank them, if you wish, on your blog or somewhere else. Don’t get cozy on the review page, you are setting a dangerous precedent.  I think authors get surprised by that first one star review, and jump to defend their work.  Don’t.  Even if it’s a wildly inaccurate review, or even a personal attack.  It is always the author that comes off as unreasonable, and they are the only one with a real stake in the review process.  Goodreads is starting to get a bad reputation for authors getting trashed by other writers and proto-writers, and that includes deliberate catfishing.  Setting your followers on them is probably a bad idea, also.  Mob mentality is particularly nasty in the online world. (Don’t be the orc that whips the trolls into attacking.)
  4. It’s a Review, Not a Book Report.  Keep it short and to the point.  Most people will not bother to read your ten paragraph critique and summary.  A single paragraph, or even a sentence or two, is plenty.  Everybody has things to do, and you can spend the time reading and reviewing another book.  (I also don’t bother with less than a three star review.  For my reasoning check my blog, “Why I Won’t Give a One Star Review.”)
  5. Five Star Reviews Don’t Promise a Good Book.  Sometimes an author has a fan base that is rabid, despite the book being a drug fueled, simian screech pounded into unreadable prose.  Feel free to poke that hornet’s nest with a one star review, but I prefer to back away slowly.  (It’s a tactical withdrawal.  Really.)

I’m still the newcomer to this madhouse of self-publishing, but I’m beginning to find my footing on the black light lit, mattress strewn, maze of contradictions.  My heartfelt thanks go out to those who are helping us noobs, holding our hands and lighting a penlight in the darkness.

Why I Won’t Give A One Star Review

It’s a review, not a critique.

In fact, I don’t give less than a three star review.  Call me crazy if you wish, but a real person is behind that book.  Someone who (hopefully) tried their best.  I am not going to gleefully rip apart their work, just a faceless troll who lives for pain.

I have limited time, and it’s not my job to beta read and critique a published work.  If I liked a book at all, despite any problems, I’ll give it a favorable review and maybe point out something that threw me out of the reading groove.  The rule of thumb I was given while judging works of art was two positive comments for every negative, and it has never steered me wrong.

If it was too deeply flawed, I’ll skip the review.  My silence is my opinion.  My upbringing deeply instilled an ethic of, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything, at all.”

The book review is not the place for a deep critique.  Unless the author knows and trusts my opinion, it’s just a jumble of hateful words.  I won’t be that person.  I know how to give constructive criticism, and the review is too late.

If you chastise me for unbalancing a system that tries to rate books according to their merit, to you I say, “So What?”  At what point, in this screwed up system, does true fair play come into effect?  Shall I point out the people who admit to not finishing the book?  How is that fair?  Shall I point to the recent trend of ‘catfishing’?  How is that fair?  The person hurt in those situations is the author; dammed if they fight back, dammed if they don’t.

That being said, If I haven’t reviewed YOUR book (there are a few of you, and you know who you are), I’m not being silent and judgey.  I’m being overwhelmed with learning to blog, tweet, beta read, self-edit, navigate Word, my homemade writing course, make a website, figure out formatting, and one… other… thing.

Oh, yeah.  WRITE.  Apply butt to chair, tear thoughts out of my head, organize into words, lather, rinse, & repeat.

Wait.  Is that right?

Anyway, I’ll get you that review, ASAP.  I promise.  🙂