Why reviews are so important (although not for the reasons you might think), by Dougie Brimson
Over the last decade, it cannot have escaped your attention that ebooks have changed the world of publishing significantly. This is especially true for mid-list authors such as myself.
No longer always under the control of editors or publishers, we are now free to go it alone to write what we like and publish it when we like. Trust me, for all kinds of reasons that freedom is liberating!
For the reader, it has been equally revolutionary. Who would have thought ten years ago that not only would there be a genuine alternative to good old paper but that there would be books available to download for free at the touch of a button.
However, the rise of the ebook has added a new and very important element to the reading process and it is one that not everyone seems to have grasped. It is the power to review. Be it on Amazon, iTunes, Goodreads or any of the numerous reader websites, if you enjoy or even dislike a book you are now able to tell the world. That, my friends, is power, real power. And I will tell you why.
As a professional author, whenever I release something new onto the market the promotion of that book falls not to the publisher as it used to, but primarily to me as the author. As a consequence the normal routine is to bombard media outlets, social media, related websites and blogs in the hope that someone will help by providing some publicity.
This, as you can imagine, is an extremely important part of the publishing process because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good a book might be; if no one knows about it no one will buy it! But this work can consume an extraordinary amount of time and while it can be fabulous fun, it can also prove both frustrating and soul-destroying.
However, after a certain amount of time you have to get back to the actual process of writing, which means that you have to let your latest stand on its merits and fend for itself. It’s at this point that all authors hope that their readers will kick in and take up the task of spreading the word on their behalf. Fundamental to that is the review.
From the readers’ perspective, a review can have many functions but for the majority of authors reviews are promotional tools and in that sense they are almost unrivalled which is why we all ask, plead and even beg readers to post them. It isn’t that we want you to boost our self-esteem (nice though that is!) it’s because the simple truth of the matter is that nothing sells books like word of mouth and these days, that primarily means what readers have to say on the online outlets.
Of course there are people who would never review a book for all kinds of reasons. The usual three being ‘I wouldn’t know what to write’,’ I’d be embarrassed’ or ‘I can’t be bothered.’ But by thinking in this way they are actually missing out on what to me is one of the most exciting elements of the ebook revolution and that’s the potential for the reader to become directly involved in the publishing process. For when you download a book, be it free or paid, you earn the right to have an opinion. And since your opinion is as good as anyone else’s, rather than keep it to yourself or simply share it with your immediate family why not share it with the global reading community? You don’t have to say much, just a sentence or two, but anything is better than nothing. Believe me, it can be a great deal of fun!
Equally, and just as importantly, by posting a review on one of the online stores such as Amazon and iTunes – and this is the crux of the matter - you instantly become a part of the promotion for that book.
I won’t try and explain the mysteries of the various ranking systems and why every single review counts but think about it in its most basic sense; your glowing review could be the one that introduces someone to the delights of not just a book, but a new author, me perhaps. That surely that has to be worth a few minutes of your time!
And speaking as an author, reviews have other benefits. One of which is that they help me to decide what to write next. For example, I had no idea that there was so much interest in a sequel to my two thrillers but thanks to both the sales figures and the fabulous reviews posted by readers, I realised that there was. As a result, I wrote In The Know which was released in May and am already under pressure to write another book featuring my central character.
Additionally, I’ve recruited all of my beta readers from people who contacted me after posting reviews which has given them even more influence over what I produce. Indeed, for me that encapsulates why I place so much importance on my readers’ opinions. For by posting reviews and helping to keep a title or titles selling, they allow me to concentrate on the actual process of writing and developing fresh material which, I hope, is what they would rather me be doing. It’s certainly what I’d much rather be doing.
So please, on behalf of authors everywhere, if you have ever read a book and like it, take the time to leave a review somewhere or even mention it on Facebook or Twitter. As I have said a million times each and every one of them genuinely helps and as someone pointed out to me only today, a review is a fabulous way of thanking the author for his or her efforts in keeping you entertained for a while.
In these crazy times, that’s surely more important than ever.
Dougie Brimson’s latest thriller, In The Know, is available from in all formats from the usual outlets. Further information on Dougie’s work can be found at https://thecwa.co.uk/find-an-author/brimson-dougie