Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Why Writers Want Reviews

I will be the first to admit that in the past, I wasn’t always good about making sure I posted a review of a book I read. I didn’t think it mattered. I bought the book. I read it. I talked about with my friends and coworkers, whether good or bad. It never even occurred to me to post a review of the book.

Since becoming a writer, I’ve come to see the error of my ways and understand how much the writer values reviews. That includes the good, the bad and the downright ugly. I’ve been the recipient of all types of reviews because what appeals to one person appalls another.

These days, writers are using all kinds of tactics to get reviews. I’m talking everything from the good old review swap (you review mine and I’ll review yours) to shameless begging; will you please, please review my book in exchange for a free copy. Some writers even get a little pushy about it; you’ve read the book. Would it kill you to review it? Others get a little craftier and create review teams. In other words, you can have a free copy of my book if you post a review to specified sites.

The multitude of tactics should tell you how desperate we are for reviews, but it doesn’t tell you why. Let me see if I can shed some light on the subject.

Writing is hard work. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t produce a Pulitzer Prize winning story every time we sit at the computer. The first draft is usually the worst and we often end up going through several revisions to reach the best possible product. And we don’t simply do it for us. We do it for our readers who love our characters as much as we do. We need you to tell us if we met your expectations. If we didn’t, we need you to tell us how we failed you so we can improve our next books.

Yes, there’s an ego factor involved. When a writer gets a good review, it makes us feel like the hard work was worth it and maybe we have a measure of talent. It’s also incredibly humbling to hear the positive ways your words have impacted others. It gives you that drive you need to keep going and on those days when you start to question your sanity and your ability, those kind words remind you that your words matter to someone. That alone makes it worth keeping at it, even when it doesn’t always come easily.

Have you ever gone to a concert or a play where there was dead silence at the end of the performance? That would be pretty awkward for the entertainer who would be left wondering if she was good or bad. The assumption would be that she didn’t do a good job since nobody clapped or whistled or shouted praise. The same thing goes for a book. If the reader doesn’t post a review online, a writer has no way of knowing if the book was met with approval or not. That’s an awkward feeling, wondering if you’re any good or if you should just keep your day job.

I’m sure some of you are thinking like I used to. It takes a lot of time to write a review. It can, but it doesn’t have to. It can be something as simple as; I loved this book and can’t wait to read more from this author because she’s the best writer ever. Long reviews are nice, but the short ones mean just as much. The important thing is being validated and acknowledged.

I hope the next time you finish a book, especially one you liked, that you’ll post a review. And if it’s one of my books, I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart to post that review! Trust me when I say the writer will appreciate it more than you know.

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