Monday, May 20, 2013

Help an Author Out — Leave a Review, Please!

Five stars or no stars?

By Stacy S. Jensen

One of my goals after Pikes Peak Writers Conference is to write more. Not my own work really, but short snippets that are published almost instantly.

My declaration: I will write more book reviews.

Why? I know they make a difference, especially for indie authors. Several faculty and conference attendees emphasized this during the conference. I heard them.

If I get a referral for a book — by blog or by an online friend — I read the reviews. I decide my purchases with review, so I should participate in this process more. So, why have I not written more reviews recently?

A mental evaluation of my reading list points to one book. Several months ago, I saw an online friend’s request to read her new release and share a review.  “Certainly,” I thought as I grabbed a copy for my Kindle and began reading. The story fell flat. I didn’t like the characters. I couldn’t finish the book.

For this book, I looked up the reviews and found fellow reviewers had already shared my “problems” with the book. While the author honestly reviews books on her own blog, I didn’t write a review for her book. The main reason: I didn’t finish it.

Fortunately, I’ve found that to not be the norm of the books friends have suggested. As I write this, I have two books on my Kindle that deserve reviews. They are engaging, have unique characters, and a story that makes me read (even when I don’t have time for it).

I’ve heard many cons to writing reviews. If it’s a bad review, you may tick off an author or an agent. That’s fair. It’s important to remember that online reviews leave a digital trail of who you are, so you need to be fair, honest, and willing to live with what you say.

A personal pet peeve is a reviewer who trashes a book because the story wasn’t what he or she thought it was going to be. If you like sci-fi thrillers, don’t buy a romance book and then be angry it wasn’t a sci-fi thriller. You know you’ve seen those reviews.

So read more books and write more reviews. It will help an author out for print books, digital books and storybook apps.

What’s your philosophy on reading or writing reviews? Have you written one lately?

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler.