Do reviews matter?
Writers, we’re a strange bunch to please. Toiling away, day after day, wondering if the words we are hammering into our keyboards are ever going to be read. Cycling through the emotions from elation at a sparkling new idea or line of prose, to the crippling self doubt of wondering whether someone has written it before you or whether you can write at all or whether your keyboard is even set to English, what is this nonsense that’s appearing on your screen?
It may therefore surprise you that’s that one thing, that will please the grumpiest of authors, the one thing that unites us all, the one thing every one of us craves. It’s not the six-figure book deal, the Hollywood film of your work or even one of those cute little notebooks you’ve spotted in the stationery shop.
Of course all those things would be very welcome, but the single thing we covet more than any other, is the five star review. Or any review for that matter.
We all shop online these days, and even if we plan to venture into the real world, we like to do our research beforehand. Research means reviews. We all read them, we all rely on them, but do we write them?
I’ll admit that I’m not a prolific review writer myself, I have to really love something, or occasionally, really hate something before I’ll commit to writing about it. I’m talking about the top one or two percent of experiences.
I can thoroughly enjoy a book, film, TV show or restaurant and I’ll happily discuss them at length with my mates, sending various messages letting people know to give them a go. Why don’t I take that extra step and write a quick review? It only takes seconds.
There is an argument that you should never read your reviews, but the truth is that we all do. Good or bad. And we do take them to heart, it’s human nature.
The golden rule when it comes to reviews is never reply to them, that’s where madness lies. You may not agree with them, but take it on the chin and move on. You can’t please everyone.
I’ve achieved quite a lot in my writing career, more than I ever thought I would, but the things that stand out are the five star reviews. Knowing that someone you have never met, someone you know nothing about, has not only taken the time to read your work, but they have left a review to say how much they enjoyed it.
You can’t buy that sort of joy.
Of course you can buy fake reviews but I’d no sooner buy fake reviews than I would buy fake tyres for my car or a fake boiler for my house, they are bound to blow up on you sooner or later.
There’s also a social media rule that you shouldn’t retweet or share praise you receive, it’s vulgar, it’s uncouth. And I sort of agree. But I also couldn’t help but share this review I received recently for Troll Life. These few short lines reaffirmed that the hours I spent writing it, all 307 hours of them, and the time I’ve spent honing my craft have all been worthwhile.
So if you have a spare couple of minutes, leave a review for a book you’ve loved. You have no idea how much it means and it might make the difference between an author writing another book or giving up altogether.
Of course, you may not have enjoyed a book and wish to leave the dreaded one star review. This is also fine, but at least have the courtesy to be honest, fair and constructive.
No author likes a one star review, but I have to admit to a little soft spot for this one I received for Leg It.