In the old days, when you read a book, you simply read a book. That book either affected you in some way, or it didn’t. Either way, you merely read the book. Then you put it down and got on with your life. Not so these days. With the rise of eBooks and self-published authors, readers are increasingly encouraged to leave a review for the book they have just completed. That’s not something you’re born knowing how to do (well, you may have done something vaguely similar in English lessons at school, but that was a long time ago). Writing a review isn’t a terribly simple process. As a reader, I know – I’ve written a fair few book reviews myself.
Now, not only am I a reader, I’m also a self-published author. ‘You? Really? We had absolutely no idea!’ Well yes, I don’t like to bang on about it, it’s not something I EVER talk about – but it’s true, I am. So you see, reviews are more important to me than the average person. Numerous good reviews can be the difference between a potential reader buying your book or passing it by. However, the review process is cloaked in mystery and shrouded in intrigue. No, it is. There’s a very famous online retailer (which from hereon in I’m going to call ‘The Big A’ for espionage-type purposes) who can choose if and when to allow a review to be posted, or remain posted. And sometimes the reasons why your hard-earned reviews don’t show up just aren’t clear. ‘The Big A’ plays by its own rules. Some say, ‘the first rule of The Big A Review Club is, don’t talk about The Big A Review Club’. But me being me, that’s just a red rag to a bull.
I know people, friends of friends mainly, who insist they’ve left a review after reading my book. But that review simply isn’t there. And what can I do? It would be churlish to encourage somebody you barely know to write a review again, when it was hard enough for them to get around to writing it in the first place. My first review I ever received was there for about six months, and now that particular review has disappeared. Why? I’ve no bloody idea. But you don’t question ‘The Big A’. What’s more, ‘The Big A’ don’t group all your reviews together, they are only seen in the country of origin of the reviewer. And they don’t tell you when you get a new review, so you can’t go checking through every country without looking like a needy, saddo, desperardo loser. Which gets on my chimes a little bit.
Anyway, enough with the espionage. I’ve been lucky enough to receive some great reviews, be it on ‘Goodreads’ or ‘The Big A’. They’re extremely well-thought-out and eloquent; better reviews than I could have written. I put them all on two pages in my blog (HERE and HERE) as I’m so proud of them. Oh, and all over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google Plus. So if you write a review for me, you pretty much end up being all over the internet too. Soz. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a shame if only I and a small few ever get to read them. I haven’t cherry-picked either, these are the ratings I currently know about. I just don’t think enough people leave reviews. But at the same time, I don’t take them lightly, knowing how hard they can be to write. You’ve got to pitch a book review just so; if you loved the book you must explain why without being too gushy, you’ve got to be honest and not sway the potential reader to read something you didn’t truthfully enjoy, but you can’t be too damning either. And then, if you’re me, you’ve got to find a way to make your review vaguely amusing. Obvs. Also, was the book deserving of five stars or four? Does five stars mean ‘life-changing’? Are three stars too few…? Agghh!! It’s a minefield.
I sometimes read the reviews on other author’s books. My absolute favourites are those left for books in the erotic/adult genre. Raunchy books always have tonnes of ratings. They tend to have a catchy title like this, ‘HOT, HOT, HOT!’. If you follow those same authors on Instagram (which I do; some follow me, and it would be rude not to return the favour), some of these author’s fans leave messages like this, 🔥🔥🔥 or 😈🍆🍑. I’m afraid I don’t know what that last trio means, as I’m a good Catholic girl, but please feel free to explain it to me in the comments section below. I’ve never had a review written about my book that involved the words, ‘hot, hot, hot!’ or 🔥🔥🔥 . Not that I write those sort of books (sex has its place, but needs to be there to contribute to a narrative, not just sex scene after sex scene after sex scene). Perhaps I ought to be concerned about my lack of 🔥. Or perhaps I ought to count myself lucky that nobody ever leaves this on my Instagram feed, 💩💩💩. Not as yet, anyway (don’t get any ideas, please!).
Anyway, love them or loath them, reviews seem to be here to stay. You can choose to write one or you can choose to ignore it. It’s a free country. I’d rather you left a review for one of my books than not (unless the book made you want to kill yourself, then feel free not to bother), but it remains your choice. And remember, I don’t know your address, so you’re home free.
PS: I wish I’d never chosen to call it ‘The Big A’. It was very time consuming and I’m very lazy.
PPS: Apologies, ‘The Big A’, for questioning your practices. Love you really *blows anxious kisses*!
🔥🔥🔥 = Hot, hot, hot (I assume).
😈🍆🍑 = Sorry, no clue.
💩💩💩 = Self explanatory.