The number one thing authors need (aside from tough skin, determination and strong coffee) is reviews of their work. This is particularly true for those of us who are indie authors. Indie authors, for the most part, are responsible entirely for their works, from concept, to making it available, to the marketing. The only thing they can’t possibly control is getting folks to read the product.
Think about it for a moment. When it comes to unfamiliar authors, what prompts a purchase of their work? Recommendations. Someone either tells you directly a book is worth a look, or they provide a written review. A written review, even if it isn’t a five-star rave, indicates a reader was affected enough by the book to spend some additional time to write their opinion of it.
Of course, not all written reviews are positive. I’ve had some that are truly cringe-worthy. I’ve also had some that leave me wondering. Here are a few snippets of wonderment from Amazon reviews - sans stars, but with a little commentary of my own.
These first gems were evaluations of my first book, Of Moose and Men: A Skewed Look at Life in Alaska.
“It was a fun read, and in most cases it actually made sense.” Well, nuts! I guess I’ll have to go back and see if I can mix up the letters a little better.
“I really laughed while reading a book, after a long while.” I certainly hope it was my book, and it wasn’t too long before you laughed, because that was the entire point, from the very beginning.
“This doesn't hold together as a story, but some of it is cute.” Umm… you do realize this book is a collection of unrelated humor pieces, right?
“My husband read this book.” Aha! A review by proxy. That’s fine. I’ll take it. (She did go on to say he was happy she had bought it for him, however.)
“I caught myself laughing and I was the only one in the room.” Not to worry! I often do the very same thing, but usually after I’ve been talking to myself for awhile.
“My abdominal muscles ached and no one wanted to be in the same room with me.” I can appreciate that, I’ve also had giardia.
“It might be a good or even great book but I can't read it because the type is too small, wish I would've known then I wouldn't have purchased it.” Well, sir, to answer your question, I like to think it’s a great book. I would also like to think you have since learned how to adjust the type size on your e-book reader, and ultimately agree with me.
For the second collection of short humor pieces, Of Moose and Men: Home is Where the Harm Is, these nuggets were dropped off.
“A.E. Poynor has written a book that makes me laugh hard enough to warrant keeping a box of Depends handy. I'm a fan of particularly dry humor…” Umm… perhaps not.
“My poor husband is happy I am done with the book because I read in bed and… along with waking him in those not-so-silent moments when I couldn't help myself.” Geez, lady, control yourself! It’s a G-rated book.
“I would recommend it to anyone who has a daughter getting married.” I don’t know if this is good, or bad. It could go either way: advice pro, or con, on the merits of marriage.
“It kept my husband in stitches.” I feel his pain. The events related in the book did the same to me. I now go to the ER and just tell them, “The usual.”
While Somewhere West of Roads hasn’t had many reviews, a few comments have given me pause.
“When it ends it leaves one or two loose ends that another chapter would have cleared up for the actual ending....” A couple of things here: first, the cleared up “loose ends” are called a sequel, not “another chapter,” and did you know your period key is stuck?
“I never thought I would want to go to Alaska, but now I do!” Uh-oh! I certainly hope it’s not for revenge.
“You want to be on John's team so they will all win.” Hey! Whose characters are you calling losers?
So to wrap this all up, I would ask everyone to help an author out by leaving a review whenever you can. Obviously from the above, it doesn’t have to be a string of superlatives and a five-star rating. However, if you are disappointed in a book and rate it low, do the author a favor and let them know why you didn’t like the work. We’re all struggling to give you the best we’ve got, and want it to get even better.