Review Honestly and Often

One of the best things about the modern world of publishing is that there is more good stuff available, and it’s easier to get hold of, than ever before. Small press and boutique publishers are springing up everywhere and, along with indie and self-publishers, they’re giving the “big six” more of a run for their money than ever before.

[Publetariat Editor’s note: strong language after the jump]

I think this is great, as it really does give an outlet for pretty much anything. There are still gatekeepers in the form of all the hard-working editors at those small and boutique presses. Hopefully there’s still control in content from the self-publishers, as they should be employing editors and proof-readers and cover designers to make their work the best it can be. Of course, a lot aren’t and, whether indie, small press or big six, there’s an awful lot of shit out there.

So, this is where everyone else steps in. That’s you and me, the readers and consumers. I’ve blogged before about readers as gatekeepers and this post is an expansion of that. In part, this is simply a reminder of that post – you’re a reader, so you have the power to share the good stuff by reviewing and/or rating it on Amazon, Goodreads, your blog and so on. Keep doing that.

But the expansion is this – do your reviews regularly and honestly. If you see a book on Amazon and it has ten five star reviews and nothing else, it’s altogether possible that it’s really that good. Or it’s equally possible that ten friends and family of the author posted a review and nothing more. A lot of value is added to a book when there’s a variety of reviews and ratings. A book with ten reviews that are a mix between three, four and five star reviews is a lot more likely to be something reviewed by a variety of people who actually read the book. You can read their comments and get a real feel for the book that way and decide if it’s going to work for you. That’s kind of thing is far better for authors.

I can understand not wanting to give a bad review. That’s fair enough, and if you really hate something you can just choose not to review it. If you feel you want to review and mark it poorly with only one or two stars and explain why, then that’s great too. If you’re clear about what you didn’t like, others can get value from that. What pissed you off might actually attract another reader with different sensibilities. The honesty of a range of reviews from a variety of readers is far better for an author than just a few dollops of glowing praise that won’t really move anyone reading them.

So please, don’t forget to review. It takes hardly any time, it’s incredibly easy with places like Amazon and Goodreads, and it’s invaluable for authors. If you enjoy their work, think how much time and effort was involved in making it and spend a few of your own precious minutes clicking a star rating and typing a few words of opinion. It doesn’t have to be much at all, just a couple of comments about why you did or didn’t like the book and the author will love you for it. Be honest. If I get a three star review and, “I liked this book and would recommend it. Not the greatest thing I ever read, but worth your time” then I’m as happy as Larry. (Who is Larry, anyway?)

Of course, I much prefer four and five star reviews, because I love it when people enjoy my work enough to praise it that highly. But any review is helping me out one way or another.

Review everything. Review honestly. Be a pal to all the authors.



This is a reprint from Alan Baxter‘s The Word.

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