If you’ve spent even a few minutes looking at the Amazon KDP Writers Forum then you will know how exercised authors can be on the subject of book reviews. If they don’t get any then they are sad but if they get reviews and they are somewhat negative then they’re even sadder. Some old hands have pointed out that amassing loads of good reviews doesn’t always mean increased sales. So why are reviews so important to authors?
I can only speak personally but I read all my reviews and getting a good review cheers me up. Why? Because, after all those days and weeks spent sitting alone banging away at my keyboard, it’s like a reader popping by and saying ‘Well done!’ However, it’s strange, but a somewhat less than positive review can sometimes be even better. Below I’ll show you four reviews and talk about the affect they had on me.
Review 1 – The One Star slating
Feb 19, 2016 PhobicPrerogative rated it did not like it
This was one that I got for The Body in the Boot in Goodreads some nine months after it was published. I looked at the other reviews by the reviewer and there were an awful lot of one star reviews in there so I thought that they were just being a bit pernickety. However I couldn’t get it out of my head and so I revisited The Body in the Boot for the first time since it was published. And did I find glaring errors? Well I’m not sure they were exactly glaring but yes I did find mistakes. They were mostly punctuation errors with the odd typo thrown in. However this revealed two things to me that I’d never thought about before –
- Some readers do get annoyed and turned off if there are too many proof-reading and grammatical errors
- The reasonable job that I thought that I’d done on my first book was basically not good enough
Editing and proof-reading are learnt skills and I’m hoping that my later books have profited from the lessons that I’ve learnt since publishing the first one. However I did take the review to heart and I went back and re-edited the whole book and republished it. I’m not saying that it’s totally error free even now but there are certainly a lot less than there were. One of the steps that I’ve taken since then is to get some trusted readers to read each book and give their opinions not just on the plot lines but also to note any errors that they may come across. This has helped greatly with my subsequent books.
Review 2 – One of my first
And it’s true they actually do eat a lot of sausage and eggs sandwiches as Mac has just rejoined the police after a quite devastating six month period for him and the said sandwich is the ultimate in comfort food (especially if eaten out of a paper bag). However this review thrilled me because, although it wasn’t five stars, the reviewer had closely read the book and still liked it and not only that but it was just about my first American review. The fact that people thousands of miles away had access to my books was mind boggling enough but then for them to actually like it! It’s something I’ve had to become used to because I’d guess that nearly 90% of all my sales are in the USA, something I really hadn’t expected. Thank you Father Ted!
Review 3 – Someone who knows what it’s like
… Not being well and finding that my pain killers do not do what they are supposed to do, it was a blessing to be able to sink into a book of this quality and leave the pain behind until I (reluctantly) had to put it down again. No easy task I can assure you. I cannot wait for the next book to be published. I just pray that it will not be long in coming.
The above is a shortened extract from an Amazon review of The Dead Squirrel from the redoubtable Walter Spencer. Walter contacted me via email and I more than happy to converse with him. I have a chronic pain problem and one of the side affects of that was the Mac Maguire books. I had to do something over the weekends to keep my mind off the pain. If you sit there and think about it it becomes magnified whereas if you can work and ignore it then it fades into the background. Being fairly recently disabled I became all too aware of the lack of representation disabled people get in movies, TV and books too. So I decided early on that my detective would have the same disabilities that I have and so Mac Maguire was born. Walter was the first pain sufferer who contacted me about my books and the fact that he was so delighted that the main hero of a book was basically in the same position as he was really buoyed me up. If I’d been having any second thoughts about carrying on writing about Mac then Walter definitely blew them all away.
Review 4 – The unexpected email
Just finished the Maguire detective series. As a retired Police Officer I absolutely loved this series.
When working cases I couldn’t agree more that it’s the little things that are unnoticed that usually make the difference in whether the crimes will be solved. Hope to read more of Mac’s investigations.
I received the above out of the blue recently from a someone who lives in Omaha, Nebraska. The fact that this someone was also a retired police officer just made it all the sweeter for me. I’ve never actually worked for the police as such so, like a lot of crime writers, I do my research and mix it liberally with a bit of guesswork. So to have a real police officer say that they liked the books was really cool.
So remember if you read a book and you really like it please let the writer know. If he or she is anything like the writers that I’ve met they will be only be too delighted to hear from you. Also don’t forget that if you have some constructive criticism then let them know about that too. It might just help them improve their books.