By Karen J Mossman
As authors, we love book reviews. Without them how would we know if readers enjoy our work? People don’t like leaving reviews and I don’t know why. I am an author but first and foremost I’m a reader. I love writing reviews. Perhaps that’s just the writer in me.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past trying to get readers to review my books, from competitions to downright begging and nothing works! I also wasted energy on checking Amazon every day to see if I had a new one.
There are not many reviews on my books, 13 is the most I have on one. Out of all my 7 books I’ve only received 3 bad reviews. One of them said the book was badly written and to some extent, I agreed it could be better. It was the first book I ‘d ever published and had no idea what I was doing. So I removed it and completely re-wrote it. I decided to contact the reviewer and offered her a free copy if she would consider reviewing it again. She graciously accepted, thanked me, but never reviewed again.
Another said the book was a disappointment and it wasn’t what he expected. I just took that as you can’t please all the readers all of the time. The third gave my novel a 1 star saying it was boring and they had to give up after a few pages. At first, I was horrified. I didn’t want that as my most recent review. How can 10 other people love it if it was that boring?
So I began asking people to mark it as unhelpful in the hope it might be removed, but it never was. The only way to combat a bad review is to ignore it. Eventually more good reviews followed and it wasn’t the first to be seen. Unfortunately there are trolls out there who like to target authors.
Now I tell writers not to get hung up on reviews because it’s something we can’t change. If our book is out there, it’s going to attract attention, good and bad. Just try to remember why you started writing in the first place. These days I concentrate my efforts on writing new books, which I love doing. And it’s far less stressful!
Early 2016 I created a WordPress blog called Karen’s Book Buzz Blog, then changed the name to Magic Reviews to bring it into line with this sight, Magic of Stories. At the beginning, I was afraid of being too honest. I didn’t want a backlash; neither did I want to upset anyone. So what started out as fun soon became stressful. I too readily agreed to read every book offered. I quickly discovered that some, I didn’t like. As I’d already agreed, I forced myself to read it. It took the pleasure away an soon became a chore.
Now I’m more selective. I don’t offer unless I have seen a sample or know it’s genre. Reading for pleasure became a joy again and I get most of my books from newsletters or online book events.
Subscribing to an author’s newsletter is a great way of getting to know about Indie books. Not only do they tell you about their writing, but often show you other writer’s books too. I’ve bought or download many this way. Some even offer free ones.
Another source is Kindle Unlimited. Readers can browse the extensive library, and if after reading a few pages decide it’s not for them, they just return it. It’s all very easy.
After 12 months, I’ve now learnt my craft. I still review the books on Amazon and Goodreads and Magic Reviews is where I have the most fun and write about my joy of the story. It enables me to be critically constructive in a positive way and to be creative in the way I write. My rule of thumb is if I have read it, I enjoyed it because I don’t read books I don’t like.
There are many reasons for not liking a book. One could simply be it’s the genre. I’m not a science fiction or horror fan, for example. It could be that I don’t like the writing style. Sometimes its because it’s badly written and although I expect to find some errors, too many can distract from the storyline.
A few months ago at a book event, I was presented with one that had a fantastic blurb and I just had to download it. In the comments, I said I had done this and the author was naturally delighted. She said she hoped I enjoyed it. Whenever someone says they have downloaded a book, an author, hopes they will follow it up with a review.
The storyline was compelling and fascinating, I loved it. Unfortunately, it was riddled with errors and badly needed an editor to look at it. It was such a shame. Under normal circumstances, I’d have given up, except I loved the story and persevered.
When I reviewed it, I gave all the good points and why I enjoyed it so much. I then added a paragraph suggesting the errors be looked at. The book deserved to be the best it could be. I have no idea whether the changes were made. I just hope so.
Reviews must be fair and honest and we should never forget the work that goes into creating one.
Magic Reviews has gone from strength to strength and I have many followers. I love getting comments and likes. Most of all I love to hear someone else’s point of view on the same book.
It takes time, time to build a blog and to learn a craft, and it’s the same for an author and their books. It takes time to write and for readers to find you, and only a small majority will ever write that review.
So my advice to authors is to be patient and don’t worry about it, keep writing and keep loving what you do.
One last word, if you do read any of my books, will you consider leaving a review!