Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Why you should write a review

*  We do not advocate sending babies down rivers.

If you've ever met an author, attended a book party, followed an author on Facebook or Twitter, then you already know why it's important to an author that you review their books.  Every review written has an impact on their sales and popularity.  It's a huge deal for a writer!  Not only that, sometimes a positive review can be the difference between a writing afternoon and a Jack Daniels afternoon.

Let's leave the author perspective out of the rest of this conversation.  This is about why YOU should be writing a review.

Here's a blunt and brutal fact.  In the world we live in, anyone can be a writer if they have internet access and half an ounce of ambition.  Don't believe me?  Send me an e-mail.  I'm willing to put my theory to the test.    What does that mean?  It means that there are more published writers/authors than ever before in history.  Theoretically.  I haven't run the numbers, so I can't prove that.  Regardless of which genre you prefer, there are more authors and books than you could possibly read in a lifetime, even if you read several books a day.  As a reader, that means you need to choose wisely where you spend your money.  By writing reviews, you can give others an idea of what to expect from a book so that they can make an informed decision on whether that's a book they want to purchase or not.

The book industry is a symbiotic relationship.  Writers create because they have to.  Readers read because they have to.  One creates, the other consumes.  There's a third step that is often missed.  Feedback.  Every author I know wants someone to enjoy their art.  They put their heart and soul into a masterpiece and then send it off into the void, in the hopes that someone will love it.  From the void, it's chosen by several.  Some embrace it, some abhor it.  How does the author know?  Unless you review it or tell the author in some manner, they have no clue.  Writing a review let's the author know how you feel about their book.  It helps them choose direction for the next one.  It helps them hone their skill so that you continue to get better and better stories from them.  Without this feedback, the author is flying blind.  They've sent a baby down the river in a basket and they're just having faith somebody fed it.  Perhaps they'll choose to send another baby down the river.  Perhaps they won't.  The more information they have, the wiser the decision they can make.  As a reader, you're the best suited for giving them this information.  

The second reason you should write a review is that it can be a bridge between the author and yourself.  Having spent even a few moments chatting with the author of a book can add an extra layer to your reading experience.   Every book is infused with the writer's spirit.  Having an idea of who the writer is let's you pick up their personality while you're reading.  It's the difference between chocolate mousse and chocolate mousse with sprinkles.

When you begin to write reviews for books, you begin to read differently.  I wasn't aware of this until years ago when I was 'ejected' from judging reader's contests.  I'm a professional.  I'm no longer a reader.  When you start reviewing, you look for entertainment, but you also begin to notice storytelling abilities, character creation, world creation, flow.  These can vastly enrich your reading experience.  You're no longer just a novice looking for someone to whisk you away for a few hours, you're now someone who can really appreciate the artistry held in your hands.

Writing reviews can help others make informed decisions about where they spend their money.  It helps authors hone their craft so that they produce better stories.  It enriches your reading experience.

If you've never written a review, I'm about to give you some great advice.  If you ask an author, they'll tell you that words as simple as 'I liked it.' will suffice.  That works from a writer's point of view, not a reader's.  When I'm looking for a new book to read, that doesn't help me at all.  Not. A. Bit.  It helps the author's numbers, but that's it.  There's an important piece of information missing.  'Why?'  'I liked it because it was easy to read.' 'I liked it because the characters were funny.'  'I hated it because there was a lot of description.'  'I hated it because it didn't make sense.'  Those are tidbits of information that I can work with.  Your review doesn't have to be long, but please answer the 'why' of it.  Not only does it help inform other readers, it helps you to start using critical thinking skills while reading, which is a huge part of how much you get from your reading experience.






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