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Reviews Blog part 1: for the Reader

Reviews are something every writer fears, loves, needs, wants, and often begs for. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to reviews lately, and two separate ideas started formulating, so I’m going to do two separate blogs. One for the readers, and one for the writers. This one is for the readers…

It started when I was looking around google and did some quick math. Scary math. Terrifying math that made me want to curl up in a corner and rock for a bit.

According to Statista—about 50,498 new fiction books were published in 2013.

That’s 138 books a day.

So the day a new book comes out, it is immediately competing with 137 other books.

137.

And that’s just the day it came out.

The next day, it’s now competing with 274 new books (previous day, plus new day—because *new release* is longer than a twenty-four hour period). And then on the third day, it’s competing with 411… and by the end of the first week alone it is competing with 959 other *new releases*.

959.

Absorb that.

Not to mention the 4,000 books that came out the previous month, but the readers hadn’t had a chance to grab them yet. So now do they buy one of those 4,000 they were thinking about, or one of the new 959, or yours?

Keep in mind, that data is from 2013, because the consensus among the pollsters, librarians, and other book nerds since then is that there is no longer any way to come up with a true number due to the sheer amount of self-published books which have no ISBN or other way to track them.

Which means the number is actually higher than 959 at the end of one week. 1,000 maybe? Probably more?

And this is why the authors you know, love, follow, stalk, read, etc. literally beg for reviews. Because we need to somehow hold our book a little higher than the other 959 that week… and those reviews help more than you can imagine.

But what is a review? First of all, for the purpose of this blog, I’m talking about them as if they were a product review for that new toaster you got—whether it was on Amazon, B&N, etc. Secondly, we’re not looking for in depth literary reviews. We’re not looking for a book report. We’re not even looking for a breakdown of what did and didn’t work. David Wilson actually just brought this up on facebook recently.

Sometimes I wonder if readers don’t leave book reviews because they think they need to write something like you would read on a review site, or in a magazine. Reader reviews on Amazon are more likely to be considered useful by sites like Bookbub if they are short, just say something like “great story line, loved the xxxx character…” Or mention very briefly a theme. If it looks like someone sat down to write a formal review, it also looks either paid, or like it came from a friend trying to outdo themselves.

If you’re interested in the comments and conversation spurred off that post, check out the thread.

Regarding the reviews themselves—he hit the nail on the head (hehe, there’s a pun in there if you know him). We are literally looking for, hoping for, asking and begging for, nothing more than a number of stars (as you see fit), and a single sentence.

A single sentence.

What did you actually like? Was it the characters? Was it the storyline? Or perhaps the twist at the end? Without giving anything away, say something short, sweet, concise, and toss some stars at it like shiny yellow punctuation.

That’s it.

Why? Because yes, we want to know if you liked it or not—especially if we’re debating a sequel or using a character elsewhere. But we also want to somehow hold that book a little bit higher than the other 959 people who released their books that week… and your single sentence and smattering of stars can actually help us to do that.

So please, care for your favorite author enough to give their work a (brief, one-sentence) review.

I recently changed the information on my Amazon account so that I, too, can leave reviews when I finish reading. Because I read a lot of books, and it’s horrible to ask for reviews but not leave them. So if you’re worried about someone knowing it was you, change your info. Remove your last name. Use only initials. Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable enough to share your opinion.

I’m leaving reviews. Are you? Have you read something of mine? Did you put a sentence and some stars on Amazon? Could you? How about that other author you just read? They could use a little one-sentence love, too…

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