Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Authors Need Reviews

I am writing this because it has come to my attention (more than three times this week alone) that authors need reviews. Plain and simple. And let me be very clear about this despite what I am going to write with regards to my own experience: This is not about me—rather it is a general petition to audiences everywhere.

I also need to say this before I proceed: For anyone that has written me a review personally, I cannot thank you enough…truly. It means more to me than you can imagine to have you all helping me by giving me criticism, thoughts and most of all—appreciation!

Now, I was going to do a post about this a few weeks ago when I spoke to two authors who told me in passing that they received no support from friends or family in their writing career and I sympathized with them. But I let it go thinking that if I post something, it will come out the wrong way…and to some degree I still feel that way. So, I ignored my urge and continued putting my head down and plowing through my activities. Then yesterday, I received an email while continuing work on my second novel. It was from Goodreads and it gave me stats about my books and also included this:

Funny, right? So, those of you that believe in fate or what-have-you, I thought it was some higher power telling me to go ahead with the post (or at least someone at Goodreads with an uncanny sense of timing!)

One particular author went on to tell me, quote: 
“And most of my friends have been hopeless. One or two have been wonderful, but generally not. I've asked various family members to do reviews too, and said I'll give them the money to buy the books if they need me too.” 
This was remarkable to me and not the first time I have heard this story. I will not reveal the names of the people included here as I do not think it is fair to them, but their pleas needs to be heard and there are many! Another author has expressed the same sentiment and I am betting that if I spoke to many others, they might tell me the same thing. I have discussed the topic ad nauseum about their friends and family supporting them and have come up with the same general reply: no help or very little. All they are asking is for a little help and support. And I am addressing this to other authors as well: help out your peers!

Ask yourself these questions:

How long would it take to write a review?

Is it really that much of an inconvenience for me to read the book that *insert name here* took the time to outline, write and publish?

I understand that—in my case especially—my genre doesn’t appeal to everyone and that’s fine. It is what it is. But, I have many friends that write mystery, suspense and other ‘mainstream’ genres that appeal to an even broader audience and they tell me the same thing.

In closing, I am sorry that this might sound preachy, but it needed to be said. I am asking for all of the true friends and supporters of my fellow independent authors to step up and lend your support! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit MY HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase Covenant of the Faceless Knights and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

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  1. Nice post, a few of my friends have been helpful, but I think most are just being polite and buying the books, never reading them and never caring to assist. That's why I am joining a book club to get soem real feedback, bad or good. Like you, I'm just going to plug along.

  2. Hey, EW! Thanks for stopping over and chiming in on the discussion. It is not the way we need to go about it, but i wanted to take a stand and say something for all of the other authors out there who need support. One Message--one voice, right? We all really need the support of friends and family in everything we do, so why not this too? It is important and needed to be said. I look forward to reading more of your comments in the future!

  3. So well said Gary. Reviews are extremely important for authors, but extremely hard to get. I'm not sure what the answer is. Giving away free copies in return for a review is hopefully one way to obtain them. Reviews don't take long to write but I think for most people it's simply that they can't be bothered, even if they really enjoyed a book. Perhaps they feel they've already supported the author enough by buying the book.

  4. Hi, Steph and thanks for stopping by to comment! The support is twofold, I think. The purchase of the book is step one and appreciated, but in my humble opinion, it is not enough. You would like them to READ the book, right? It is why you wrote be read, not purchased and tossed aside. I don't mean to come off aggressively, but I am passionate about my writing and want as many readers as possible to enjoy it--first and foremost. If that has to be done by giving a few books away, then so be it, as long as the recipients write a review in exchange. I believe that is fair. I am doing a giveaway on Goodreads with the intent of those two winners reading it and giving it a review...hopefully! Thanks again for the comments and I will speak to you soon!

  5. Great post! Interestingly, most of the support I've gotten has been from those outside my circle of friends and family. While some have reviewed my book, many more have not. Fellow writers have been more supportive about leaving reviews, as well as tweeting, etc., about the work.

    I've sent out many more requested ARCs than I've gotten reviews for, which is odd, when I then see copies of my book popping up online as "used", when it only recently came out!

    Sigh... Wish I had some answers, but your post rang true for me!

  6. Great piece! Thanks!

  7. Kergan and Lawrenceelliott, thank you both for stopping by to comment! I am glad you both enjoyed the article and I am certainly glad that I wrote it. It seems to be the best piece I have written so far on the topic of writing/authoring.

    Kergan, you seem to be echoing the same sentiment as most unfortunately. Twitter seems to have a pretty good group of authors that try to help and most of my followers are just that. I am thinking that an exchange of reviews for books that like authors enjoy might be a way to go. I am currently doing that with a fellow author now, though it was not an arrangement, rather an unplanned coincidence that blossomed organically. Either way, I like to see authors helping authors in one way or another. Thanks for the comments and I look forward to more in the future! Cheers!

  8. That's a really good and pertinent post. I've had similar experiences, some great support from some friends, and unlikely ones as well but those who are closest to me appear reluctant to review (or even read) my stories. Some people appear embarrassed if you ask them to download, and some said they would only download it if I gave it to them for free (one even suggested that I put it up on a torrent site, as if!). It's funny, I've had more reviews and support from my Twitter followers than from people I actually know. Quite telling really and something I'll bear in mind when one of them asks me for a lift somewhere as well....

  9. Of course I live in the Fens so the Kindle is still a shocking concept...

  10. LK, thanks so much for stopping by to comment! I feel your pain somewhat and though I do have friends and family that have helped, I am also receiving more support from total strangers and my friends in the social media world. I really feel humbled that everyone is enjoying the post and it has really gotten a ton of support, so I am happy I went ahead with it after all. I just hope it reaches the right audience.

    Please feel free to drop by, join the blog or simply comment from afar as I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!

    PS. Kindle App for the PC right here:

  11. Thanks so much for a great post. I hope a lot of people read it, so I will be Tweeting the link and emailing it to friends.

    Reviews are a funny thing. Many readers are terrified to write reviews. Others will write reviews so long as no one knows who they are. Still others will leave just stars (1,2,3,4 or 5) and never comment at all. Just leaving stars and no comment is not helpful to the author or other readers. If you're going to take the time to leave some stars, please include a comment too.

    Authors need feedback as well as praise. Although we don't like negative comments we try to learn from them. But a little love and praise is what we all need now and then. Please, it you read someone's book, try to write a review for them.

    However, if all you have to say is scathing words, then maybe it's best not to write that review. Of course, that's just my own personal opinion. In growing up, my mother always insisted that if you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all. I've tried to live by that adage. I write reviews on books I love. I hope many others will do the same.

  12. Hi, Teri and thanks so much for stopping over to visit! I also very much appreciate your help in getting the word out for us all (authors I mean).

    Reviewers can certainly be elusive! It is a rare and intelligent breed that can digest a story, spit it back to you in a helpful way that will aid/critique/praise the author and yet remain on task with their points. I believe these people need to be praised! I know that writers do not enjoy reading negative feedback, myself included, but I am willing to endure constructive criticism. I knew that I would need to be tough enough to handle it as soon as I put pen to paper.

    I have been told that this is a brutal business not for the faint of heart or the lazy! That being said, we as writers need to receive feedback, digest it and hopefully gain some understanding from it. Those of us lucky enough to have received reviews know how exciting it is to read them!

    I personally received a 2 star review recently and was immediately shocked! I read the review, it was honest and responsive, but the reviewer did not really critique my work or my writing, merely spoke to how they did not enjoy the genre. I respect the reviewer and wished I had learned more about the content, but it is what it is. I walked away from it understanding more about the social media community and gleaned what I could from the review.

    I do believe in tough love when it comes to writing and also understand that it is something that ALOT of people are doing nowadays as it is easier to get our work out there. It just means that potential readers have more to sift through to find you. I try to put my best foot forward in the hopes that when someone does stumble upon my work, they like it! I also truly hope that writers take their work seriously enough to edit it before presenting it.

    I do agree with your last point on a personal perspective and try not to review books that I do not like for whatever reason. I also understand that writers (at least the dedicated ones) will grow over time. I have seen it in my own work as I develop my own 'style'. Anyway, I think I have rambled on long enough and appreciate your response. Thanks so much for contributing and please feel free to join our little community here--we'd love to have you!

  13. A very interesting post and I'd like to add my own thoughts, if I may...

    I review books. It's something I enjoy and I like to know that I've possibly helped people to choose a book that I've loved or avoid a book that I didn't. The opposite can also be true - I can write that I didn't like the book because of something and another reader might enjoy that very thing and buy the book. There are plenty of great reviewers out there who are more than happy to review books in the genre they read. Do a google search for reviewers of your genre, contact them through their blogs and see what your response is. I know that I love to receive free books or even just recommendations! ;)

    Another thing to consider is that sometimes no reviews are better than insincere ones. I've looked at books with many 5 star reviews and then looked to see what other books these reviewers have reviewed. When I see that all of them have only reviewed the book in question I automatically disregard all these reviews because I assume that they are friends, family or are being paid by the author. I will not buy a book with what I feel are fake reviews and it makes me angry because I feel I'm being duped. I realise that this puts authors in a difficult position - how do you get yourself and your book known without getting the help of your friends and family? I just think that readers are smart and even if your book is a masterpiece, if you lose trust early on you may never get it back.

    My suggestion, for what it's worth, is to hit the social media network and hit it hard. Which is exactly what brought me to this blog!

    Have a good day! :D

  14. I couldn't agree more with your opinion. Even though I'm not an author, I'm an avid reader, and love to show my support to authors by writing reviews and/or sending them a message. It's my way of saying thank you for taking the time to write a book that made me laugh or cry!
    Of course, reading is not everyone's cup of tea, but I since I started my blog, I have seen many bloggers that write reviews and support authors.Still, there is a long way to go.

  15. Josie, thanks for stopping by and giving advice on the subject. It always lends credence if words come from one who does, rather than one who does not. And I agree with you to some extent. Yes, friends and family tend to only review work relative to their own needs, but it does not mean that they are giving a false opinion. I do understand your meaning that their intention could be skewed and better to feel that way. However, I have intelligent friends who give me their honest opinions. Some like my work, some do not. I would hope that people would give honest opinions about work in order to give the author something to work on and not to encourage him or her to continue down a misguided path of less-than-good writing. I would personally rather have someone read my book and NOT review it than review it falsely and not read it. I also agree that most readers will be able to read most reviews, glean the truth from it and make their own decision. Readers, as I am learning, are smart, informative, helpful and insightful. Thank you so much for stopping by, I will consider your advice and hope to see you here again in the future! Cheers!

  16. Hello, Regina and thanks for stopping to comment! If you want to review my work, please let me know! I am always looking for more opinions.

    I am a huge fan of avid readers for so many reasons, besides keeping you away from the idiot box for a few hours a day! I kid, of course, but it certainly won't hurt your chances of learning something. I do believe that there are a very good deal of supporters out there of independent authors and am appreciative that many of them visit my site to share their opinions and wish even more to come!

    Thanks for stopping by to comment and I look forward to future contributions! All the Best!

  17. Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I completely agree with you - and didn't mean to imply that I expected your, or anyone else's, friends or family to 1) have to lie to say that your book was excellent or 2) not offer a genuine or constructive review. I think that, unfortunately, some people do ask their friends, family and others to post a whole host of glowing reviews to boost their book sales whether they are warranted or not. When it's obviously fake praise it can negatively impact the author and break trust with the potential reader.

    I appreciate that this is not always the case but the bad ones always ruin it for the rest! ;)

    I also agree that most people that read reviews can glean the truth from them and if the book is good it will stand for itself.

    This was a fascinating blog post and one which really got me to think about both sides of the dilemma of reviews and what it can mean for authors personally and professionally. Whatever the intricacies, I do agree with your original statement that authors need reviews.

    Thanks for the debate. I hope I didn't offend with my comments or come across as a know it all - everything was meant in good spirit.

    Take care and have a good day. :D

  18. No, Josie, I was not offended at all! In fact, if I came off as offensive, I apologize! I was merely adding another point of view to the discussion is all. Some of my friends posted reviews for me and I do not pretend to know their motivations, I only hope that they actually read the book!

    I am truly happy that you enjoyed the post and completely understand your perspective. I do not think that your post was offensive at all and appreciate the point of view you brought, because it is one that I hadn't thought about until today. Thanks so much!

  19. Gary,

    Though I may not be an author I found this post very interesting as a reader and supporter of your work. I certainly see how hard you work both at writing and at trying to market your efforts. We may have met through a twitter hashtag but I do enjoy and appreciate your hard work my friend. I know you see how much I travel for work due to my Facebook and twitter activities. My reading time does get reduced at times but I wanted you to know I still enjoy your work and will continue to support you as I can. Reviews will be coming for the other two books soon.

    As for supporting other authors I would love to some how easily find other independent authors in the same style or genre as your works. Not sure how to go about that but maybe something else to ponder bud.

  20. Chad, thanks so much for the appreciation and kind words. I cannot say enough about the support you have shown me.

    As for your point about supporting or finding other authors: I am seriously thinking about getting together with a few other indie fantasy authors and making a site that connects us with our readers. It seems like that might be the best way for us to go. We shall see. The only thing I can tell you is that people like you inspire to persevere through the tough times and continue to push through!

    Can't wait to read your reviews and keep your eyes open for more short stories soon! All the best!

  21. It's awesome that you posted this. It is a mystery to me that people who took the time to read your book and send you an email exclaiming how much they loved it can't find the time to even right a two-sentence review. This post really hits home with probably 90% of the indie writers out there. Thanks for putting this out there. I will pass it on!

  22. I provide reviews on my blog that I have just started in exchange for the book. I also hope to meet writers who need my graphic design / illustration skills for cover & such.
    Contact me to discuss.

  23. Contact for free reviews on goodreads, & my blog.

  24. Mattius and Moonshine, thanks for the comments! Mattius, I am glad that you enjoyed reading the article because I was very passionate about the subject. It hits home for me as well. I feel that we Indie authors are fighting an uphill battle from the get-go against the established writers, and then also against all the self-published authors as well...every little review helps! especially ones that come from people who have actually 'read' the book! Please feel free to send people over to share their thoughts. This post has been so popular that I may end up doing a follow up post in the near future.

    Moonshine, thanks for sharing your info with us. If you would like a review copy PDF of Covenant of the Faceless Knights, email me @

    Thanks to both of you again for the comments and feel free to stop by again in the future. Cheers!

  25. Someone shared this link on FB, so I had to check it out. Followed you on Twitter, FB, & Goodreads. Looking forward to reading your work!
    Stop by my website!

  26. Terri, please thank whomever it was that shared the link for me! I love new followers! Also, thanks for stopping by to comment. I would love to hear from you on a review if you get around to reading any of my content. I will stop by your site to check it out. I look forward to reading more of your comments in the near future! Cheers!

  27. Good post, Gary. So true. It takes time to do a good review, but I'm committed to carving out the time from writing to review at least a book a month. As someone suggested, I've looked for - and found- bloggers who review my genre - memoir and historical fiction - and that has netted some reviews. They all help.

    I'm tweeting your post. @CABodensteiner

  28. Hello, Carol and thanks for the comments! I am glad that you agree with this and hope that more people see it. Reviews are kind of what drives customers either toward or away from books, so one good, honest review might get several more people involved in your writing. Thanks for RT'ing the post as well. I look forward to more comments in the future from you, Carol. Cheers!