Why Authors Keep Bitching about Reviews

Dear Reader,

I’m sorry, because I know I’m guilty of this: constantly asking, even begging for reviews.

I know it’s annoying, because I don’t always feel like leaving a review for books I’ve read either. I worry about what to write, and whether my review will look stupid among all the others which invariably seem cleverer to me. But there’s a good reason for my irritating behaviour, I promise…

Why Reviews Mean Everything

What do writers want? To write and sell books. Not necessarily to make money, but to fund future book projects. In order to be able to write (and have our work read by people, rather than sitting around on our computers in complete obscurity), we need to have some money to put into our books. Whether it’s for cover art, editing, promotion, gifts. It’s almost impossible to make it in this business if you don’t invest anything into your books.

So, how do we sell books? We rely on our existing readers to buy our new releases, and we try to grow our readership by making it easy for our books to be found by people who’ve never heard of us before.

How do we get found? Dumb luck is too unreliable, so the answer is: advertising.

How do we advertise? When a reader finds us via our advertising, how do we make our book attractive enough to buy?

Some Facts about Advertising

  1. Not every advertising service actually works
  2. The ones that do work, won’t accept books without a proven track record
  3. They choose to measure the success of a book by its reviews
  4. Even if your book gets accepted without any or with few reviews, any reader who clicks on it, is going to feel nervous parting with their money, if they don’t trust the reviews
  5. Because it has to be said: Buying reviews is bad, so there’s no easy way out but to somehow encourage real people to leave real reviews
  6. Amazon (and perhaps other retailers as well), are rumoured to give more prominent placement of books with lots of good reviews.
  7. Think about how you buy books? Given the choice between two interesting titles, do you go for the one with no reviews or the one with 100 of them, and a 4.5 star average?

Together with having a good-looking cover, and a convincing product description, plus attractive price, reviews are a crucial part of turning a book that looks like nobody wants it into one which people are willing to spend on.

So, while I apologise for being pushy and annoying, asking for reviews, I hope this information explains my motivation behind it. And I hope next time you read a book, whether one of mine, or another author’s, you remember some of what I’ve said, and leave them a review. Even if it’s just a couple of sentences outlining what you liked about it. You’ll be contributing directly to that author’s career by doing so. And they’ll appreciate it, so much.

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