Do You Review?

Simon GoodsonGuest Post
by Simon Goodson

I’m going to make a few assumptions here, but I think they are all reasonable. First assumption – if you are reading this then you are an author or involved in publishing books. That won’t be true for everyone, but I’m pretty sure it covers most of you. That means you know how hard it is to get each and every review. You know how important reviews are. You know the excitement when you realise there’s a new review for one of your books.

Next assumption – you read a lot of books. If you’re an author you read far more books each year than you write. If you’re a publisher I bet you still read a lot of books outside of work. There was a time, before I started writing seriously, when I would read four or five books a week. I read a lot less now but it is still thirty to fifty books a year. Maybe more.

The final assumption is the kicker. I bet you haven’t written a review for many of the books you’ve read over the past year. Let’s take out all the books you didn’t like. Many people don’t like leaving a bad review, especially if they have their own work published. If a book would be less than four stars on Amazon, or three stars on Goodreads, then I won’t write a review.

So taking all the books you enjoyed or loved what percentage did you write a review for? More than 90%? Well done! Feel smug. Give yourself a pat on the back. More than 80%? Still good. You can stop reading this now.

Or maybe you’re like me. I had the best of intentions. When I finished a book I enjoyed I really did mean to write a review. But I wasn’t at a computer, so I decided to do it later. I’d start reading a new book. Later came and went. I’d think of writing that review from time to time, but life got in the way. After a while the story began to fade in my memory. I remembered I enjoyed the book, but I didn’t feel I could write a review that did it justice anymore. So, with a strong sense of guilt, I gave up. Why guilt? Because I work so hard to get reviews for my own books. I know how important reviews are to an author. And despite knowing all that I haven’t left a review. I’ve let the author down.

Until recently my review rate of books I liked and loved was probably between 5% and 10%. Pretty awful. I took a step back, looked at what I was (or more to the point wasn’t) doing and realised it was time to change. Now I am determined to get my rate above 80%. Maybe even to 100%.

Let’s be clear of my motivation here. I’m not writing these reviews as an author. I’m writing them as a reader. I don’t do it to get anything in return. It certainly isn’t review swapping, which is a potential minefield in itself. I do it simply because it’s the right thing to do. Leaving a review is both a thank you to the author and a help to other people looking for great books.

So how about you? Did you leave a review for the last great book you read? If not it’s not too late. You don’t have to write an essay, just a couple of paragraphs. Stick a rating in. Press the submit button. Do the same for the next great book you read. And the next. See how high you can get your percentage from the point you decided to make the change. Can you hit 80%? 90%? Or even the ultimate. Can you leave reviews for 100% of the books you enjoy?

Go on. Make an author’s day. Leave a review.

[Not sure what to write in a review? Check out the Reviewing 101 Series written by acclaimed book reviewer Big Al.]

Simon Goodson is the author of the highly rated Wanderer’s Escape science fiction novel, its sequel Wanderer – Echoes of the Past and two books comprising the Dark Soul Silenced fantasy story. Simon fits in writing around a full time job as an IT Consultant and a hectic family life looking after his son and two daughters. He can be found head down, writing on his laptop, lunchtimes and during the commute home. You can learn more about Simon at his website and his Author Central page.

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18 thoughts on “Do You Review?”

  1. I’ve probably reviewed 95% of the works. If i find issues I make a diligent effort to contact the author and discuss the findings. 80% of them have been very receptive.

  2. I agree. I will only write a review if I can give the book a four or five star review. A few months ago I violated that rule. I left a three star review because of typos and formatting problems. The author contacted me a few days later and apologized explaining it was a new edition. Final solution we talked back and forth a little. I ended up changing my review to five stars. Back to my old rule. If I can’t leave a good review. I don’t leave one. If I’ve got an issue I email the author.

    It’s a win-win for both of us.

  3. Good Intentions Guy here, Simon.
    I SWEAR I’m going to start slapping up reviews for everything I read, but I don’t. And if I don’t do it right on the spot, when comments are bubbling in my brain, it just doesn’t have any further appeal.
    I need some 12 Step group or something.

    1. Yeah – that’s where I was till a few months ago. If you can manage it then it gives you a really good feeling, rather than hanging over you till you manage to forget it.

  4. Yes, I do review everything I read, whatever the star. I just don’t see the point of leaving just 4- or 5-star reviews. It’s misrepresentation. Readers need to know all the good and bad points about a book. It shouldn’t be kept from a potential purchaser that a book is badly edited. And some reviewers’ distaste for a book might well not match those of other readers. Readers should be allowed to make up their own minds about whether or not to purchase a book and not be swayed by ‘rigged’ reviews.

    1. This is always a difficult one. It would be easier if Amazon’s stars worked like goodreads, where a 3 star is still a good rating.

      If I was just a reader then I’d review everything, though I’d try to offer constructive criticism. With my own work out there I want to avoid the situation of someone who is unhappy about a poor (but fair) review posting negative reviews for my books without even reading them. In an ideal world it wouldn’t be a problem, but we have all seen examples of authors acting in ways that make us cringe.

  5. Simon, this is exactly why I started Rursday Reads. Several years ago, I won a prize package containing probably 20 or 25 ebooks by indie authors. I reviewed a few of them on Goodreads, but eventually I realized that I needed some other motivation to finish the project — in the meantime, of course, I was reading other books that I wasn’t reviewing, either. This way, I’m posting a review a week.

  6. I leave reviews at a few places, Amazon, Goodreads, Safari, Librarything. If you take the time to write it, just a few more to copy and paste. I know most concentrate on Goodreads, but there are so many other places for readers to look for books these days. I usually only post reviews for books I liked and reviewed 4 or 5.

    1. That’s a good point – I need to start putting my reviews to those places too.

  7. My goal is to review every book I read and I used to when I accepted requests for review. But I’ve stopped that now because some were so bad that I would have given up reading them if I hadn’t promised a review–even then I didn’t write reviews for the stinkers but gritted my teeth, girded my loins, and emailed the author with my comments. Hated doing that. Now I pick the books I read and don’t feel so bad if I have negative comments to make, although I will highlight any positives. But you’re right about it being so hard to get reviews. I live in hope for them for my books but they’re rare, even with the request at the end of them.

    1. I think we would get so many more if people could leave the review immediately. When I finish a book on my paperwhite it asks me for a star rating which I often fill in, but I have no ide where they go. They don’t seem to be on the product’s page.

  8. Thanks Simon, you’ve given me a much-needed prod. I have the best of intentions about reviewing every book I read (unless I can’t give it a pretty good rating). But, like many other people, I get slack and fall way behind. Your article has fortified my resolve.

    1. You’re welcome. If you can manage it for a few books then it’s a great feeling (as opposed to the usual guilt for not doing it) and it becomes addictive which makes it easier to do in the future.

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