Saturday, May 28, 2011

An opinion on reviews: the gloves are off!!

Pictures this: a reader searching for a potential book to buy in order to enjoy a lunch break, commuting, holiday, evening in, you name it. He or she finds the description of your book appealing enough to decide spending precious spare time with your main charactes and story. How wonderful is that? Nowadays, it looks like this:

E-publishing has shaken up the whole industry. Authors who have been rejected by agents and publishers in the past are now let loose onto the reader. While that's a good thing, it has its downsides: authors are a one-man company, responsible for everything including generating sales.
Today, I'd like to focus on reviews.
Many authors seem to think it's the reader's duty to review their books. I am of a different opinion: it's their choice. I've seen authors moaning and complaining that nobody reviews their book and quite frankly, I'm sick of reading it. Readers are readers, reviewers are reviewers and most writers are confident enough to write one, too.
Two years ago, I was a reader who browsed through book shops, going home with a few and did what readers do: reading. When I finished, I'd tell my friends about it, good or bad. It wouldn't have occurred to me to write a review, go back to the shop to hand it in or write an e-mail to the author. Neither would I expect this today. Don't get me wrong, I know reviews are important to help potential buyers decide, especially since we indie authors are on our own, but I wouldn't expect a review from anyone who's bought my book. I've asked a few people I know are confident to write one to give an honest opinion on the upcoming book, but I would never put a note in my book asking the reader directly. As a reader, I personally would be put off. Two years ago, it might have left me showing a similar expression:

The common reader, won't know anything about style, voice and character development. Some might not even know much about punctuation (I certainly didn't). All they care for is: does this book fulfil my expectations? Does it make me laugh, cry, feel with the protagonist? Does it leave me with a fluffy feeling when I finish? That's all they want.
So how to get reviews? If you're on facebook or twitter, look around, search for reviewers, make a call for them on fora. There are plenty of people who offer them. Some have threads asking for books in certain genres. Get in touch. Don't ask the poor reader to offer feedback that should have been done before publishing. Be grateful if you receive one, good or bad.

Let the reader do his or her job, that is reading and do yours, that is writing a good story, because that's what really matters and sells in the end.

Rant over. :-) I wish you all a happy weekend.

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