Reviews and why your voice matters
Did you find a new author you love? Want to support them? It’s simple: write a review. Better yet, write a few. Or write one and post it in multiple places, at least.
When consumers approach a purchase, they want a quick way to verify it will be worthwhile. Most of us are guilty of scrolling down to check reviews. I hope I’m not alone in always checking both the top positive ones and the top negative ones. It’s a fact that no one can please everyone, so a negative review is not a deal-breaker for me, but I want to see why the consumer was upset. Does it apply to my circumstances? I’m suspicious of anyone with only positive reviews, but sometimes there are so few reviews. We need more voices out there, more opinions!
Now, look at books. It’s easy for famous authors to have vast lists of reviews. But books with small readerships (like emerging authors) struggle to get any reviews. And if no one writes reviews, then buyers will not want to take a chance on it.
Most platforms don’t have many rules for leaving reviews. If you have a profile, you can write a review. Some expect you to have bought the item through them, but most do not. The biggest fish in the pond is Amazon, and that’s where it gets a little complicated.
There were some concerns that Amazon would not allow everyone to write reviews. They do have different standards that are worth knowing. Breaking the rules will see the review removed at the least, but can get the author or the reviewer suspended as well.
1. Authors cannot pay for CUSTOMER reviews, but can for EDITORIAL (professional) reviews.
2. Authors can give out free or discounted copies and request a review, but they cannot demand a review in exchange.
3. Authors cannot limit reviews. Some authors put “I encourage reviews, whether positive or negative” to assure Amazon that they are not soliciting for only good reviews.
4. Friends and family of authors CAN put up reviews, but “individuals who share a household with the author or close friends” cannot. I’m not exactly clear how close is ‘close friend,’ but I’m assuming this means my husband is out since I live with him.
5. Someone must have spent $50 on Amazon within the last12 months to write a review.
The last point was surprising. On the one hand, I understand not wanting people to write reviews for things they have never bought/used, but as Amazon has become such an incredible hub, it worries me that people outside the platform cannot be heard.
Where to find or post book reviews:
Check Goodreads, amazon, google, iBooks and pretty much anywhere the ebook is sold. They all have review options.
Writing a review:
Be honest! As much as I wish to support friends and other writers, I never lie in a review. I don’t want to trick someone into buying something they don’t want, and I don’t want to discredit the author. But don’t expect your review to necessarily reach the author, as many authors do not read reviews. If you want to reach out to the author, try the contact page on their website, their Facebook page, twitter account, Instagram etc.
While adding a review to a book that already has five hundred is a drop in an overflowing bucket, a review to a new author is worth gold! So, if you enjoyed a book, any book, take a moment to find it online wherever you shop and leave a review. It is probably the single-most supporting thing you can do for any new writer.
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D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.