Ahh, today’s the last day of my month-long blogging bonanza in honor of my newest book, Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat: On Finding the Meaning of “Like” in 1982, available now on Amazon.
On Fridays during this crazy blogging bonanza month, I’ve been writing about different aspects of self-publishing. We’re calling this Indie Tips Friday, and it’s been so popular, I may keep up this weekly feature. Having self-published two previous books and helped several other authors publish their own works, I have a little experience to share with other aspiring publishers. Today I’m tackling reviews.
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Browsing online reviews is even better than chatting over the water cooler (do offices even have water coolers anymore?). You can find a world’s worth of opinions with just a few clicks.
Looking for a restaurant with a gluten-free menu or outdoor dining? Try Yelp. Need a wrinkle cream that smells nice and won’t burn your eyes? Check out Ulta or Sephora. Searching for an RV park with pull-through spaces and a swimming pool? RVParkReviews.com is where you’ll find your tribe.
And when it comes to pretty much everything else? Amazon is where it’s at. My husband, so enamored with Amazon that we are Prime members, has written reviews about every doodad and power tool he’s ever purchased and he pores over the reviews every time he’s considering a new thingy whatsit.
Of course, independent authors who bother to publish almost always do so on Amazon. Founder Jeff Bezos started the supermarketplace with books, after all. And with Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace, it’s easy for an indie publisher to compete right along side traditional titles. Without the benefit of bookstore display, Amazon reviews are even more important for self-published authors because they help them compete in a crowded space and give readers guidance on what to buy.
My theory is that every review is a good one. Of course, I cringe when reading a 1-star review, but I think discerning readers can figure out what’s valid and what isn’t. If what they read in a 1-star review rings true to them, they probably wouldn’t like my book anyway, so ultimately, those bad reviews are saving me more bad reviews down the road.
I will note, for the record, that making personal attacks on a memoirist is out of bounds. Review the book, not an author’s life choices or you’re just being a bully.
Often when I finish a book I loved, I visit Amazon to read the 1-star reviews, and I’m frequently amazed at the number of people who vehemently dislike the book I’m swooning over. It reinforces the old trope that you can’t please all the people all the time.
My first book, The Percussionist’s Wife: A Memoir of Sex, Crime & Betrayal has 30 reviews on Amazon, and I’m holding steady with 4.1 stars. Not too shabby. (The Nook version on Barnes & Noble? Four reviews averaging 4.5 stars.)
My second book, How to Look Hot & Feel Amazing in Your 40s: The 21-Day Age-Defying Diet, Exercise & Everything Makeover Plan is a good news-bad news story on the reviews. The good news is the book has 5-stars. The bad news only one reader has reviewed it. What can I say except my publicist fell down on the job. (I am my own publicist.)
Let’s not leave out Goodreads. As a reader, I adore Goodreads for keeping track of my to-do list. I’ve found the reviewers out there are a little harsh compared to Amazon reviewers, perhaps because hardcore readers with strong opinions frequent the hangout. But again, Goodreads reviews give a reader a good barometer of what’s in store in a book.
Now I’m trolling for reviews on my latest effort, Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise or Repeat, the autobiographical bit of fiction about the year I turned 15 and learned to French kiss. So if you’ve read the book and liked it, please, by all means, review it on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
And whether you’ve just finished a book published in a traditional manner or especially if you’ve loved a book by an indie author, spend a moment telling potential readers why you enjoyed it. The next reader will thank you for it.