So I formed a writer's group so I wouldn't feel so alone on this terrifying journey and at one of the meetings one of my fellow writers was practically vibrating in her frustration of the amount of books she'd given away to her low number of reviews. I felt for her, I really did because I'd been in her place before. That first book that you put so much work into and you get great feedback. I even had people email me directly and tell me how much they liked it, but did they review it and basically tell others that? No. The first book I self published, over a year ago, to this day I get emails that straggle in asking for when book two will be out. It had an open ending but yes two more books are planned. Did those people write a review? Nope.
I have people now telling me that they are on their third or fourth of my seven. So that means you liked it enough to buy more but yet no reviews? Great, thanks for that info, that doesn't help me out though so if you want more books you have to tell other people how great they are, not just the writer. I wish I didn't have to work to pay the bills and the writing would be enough to live off of but it won't be if the people who are buying the product don't let others know it's a good product and they should buy it too. That's what reviews are, they say 'hey, I liked this and will buy more and you should too."
I'll be honest, I was guilty of this. I didn't write reviews of everything I read, even if I liked it. If there were more than twenty reviews and they were all positive I shrugged and moved on. If there were only a handful and I liked it or hated it, I'll review it. If I hated it and the reviews were low I shrug and move on. If there were eighty five stars and it was crap, then I'd write a review. Not because I'm a bitch, although I can be, it's because I was sick to death of wasting time on bad books with high reviews. Did they purchase the reviews? Did they round up a whole bunch of family and friends and get those reviews? Who the fuck knows but as a reader I am no longer alone in the ambivalence of reviews.
The problem is even that now more and more people aren't always trusting reviews.
I'm seeing it now, not just for indies but for established writers. In the comments people are getting more and more ticked by the high reviews that just don't jive with the book they read. I stopped believing the five stars and jumped to the three stars over a year ago. John Locke didn't just hurt himself, he hurt other indies and the authors that pay for their reviews are again hurting other authors because people don't trust the reviews anymore BUT at the same time, before most people are willing to even click a sample they check the reviews to see if it's even worth wasting their five minutes on, let alone money on.
My reviews on Amazon are nonexistent but I'm selling, better than I'd hoped but you wouldn't know that from the lack of reviews. I see it happen, the books sell like dominoes. The spike in the free and a few days later one book and then another one. It's hard to see that without the reviews to back it up. My reviews on the Nook are for the most part positive, I laughed at the one star review I have as she called it vulgar which actually made me quite happy. It's erotic romance, the cover has a woman with her tits practically hanging out and the word wild in the title, if it wasn't vulgar then I wasn't doing my job. There's a reason why it's for mature people only, if you aren't an adult enough to not freak out over a couple of sex scenes and stop when it offends you then you deserve what you get. It does annoy me there are spoilers, but not too much. I practically scream that I am writing HEA so yeah, it's going to end with them together, how they get there is story. The thing about the Nook versus Amazon is that on Nook, you can just do stars and aren't required to write a fucking paragraph and you can post anonymously. Is that why people were more willing to review, because they didn't have to see their name or handle beside a 'dirty' book? Yes, they read mystery or literature but they don't want their name beside erotic romance?
Immediately, I began to think, why won't Amazon do the same thing? It would be sooo much easier on everyone but then I thought more about it and I don't know if that's the right way or thing to do. Even at the cost of reviews.
I saw a horrible, sad announcement on Facebook about this poor writer who was pulling her stories off and going offline because she was being bullied with bad reviews and mean comments on her pages. WTF? It made me so sad, not just for the person being bullied but as a whole the fact that you can be so anonymous on the internet and provoke and be a bully without anyone knowing who you really are, I think it makes people bolder. I don't know maybe I'm wrong and there are always people who get off on making other people feel small and no matter what, they would find a way to do it.
I don't know if the fact they can do it anonymously is the only reason why I have so many more reviews on the Nook versus Amazon and I don't know if I really want Amazon to go anonymous as I'm sure it would make the buying of reviews worse. I do know that it's frustrating that I've given away over three thousand copies of a book and gotten less than one percent of that back in reviews but am around forty percent in buys which seems really freaking good. But could it be better? Readers need to understand that if they want more books, they have to know that reviewing, whether it's a three star or five star will get them more books from the authors they like.
Last week I was talking at the meeting and admitting how guilty I felt about getting a freebie and finally reading it probably a year after it was put out but when I went to give it a good review it had disappeared. There were only three others out by the writer and the book I read and another that was mentioned in the back of the book was gone. It made me guilty, had she given up writing what she loved the way I had because of no positive feedback and without it she hadn't sold and had moved on?
The guy I was talking with shared a similar story, he had downloaded a sample and liked it but because of either time or circumstance it was almost a year before he went to buy it but it wasn't there anymore. He's searched but can't find the writer anywhere. We both got quiet as we pondered what had happened to that author.
It's made me look at how I'm doing things and have decided to always write a review if I can give at least three stars, whether there are twenty reviews or a hundred.