Victoria: A Tale of Spain is part of a review group on StoryOrigin this month. This group has 11 books of historical fiction that need reviews and you can find the link here where you can read samples and then take the books if you feel interested. Of course, what fiction books don’t need reviews these days? Probably only about 1% of them. It’s really not that difficult for readers to put up reviews. In fact, I remember how easily people used to review my books. I never had to ask at that time—they just found books and immediately put up reviews, often also giving private feedback to me in messages, which I didn’t even ask for! But these days people are a lot stingier about reviews. (Most likely feedback too, I'm not sure because I haven’t asked for it in a while.)
There was a pop song that drifted around a few years ago: “It’s all about that bass, ‘bout that bass, no trouble.” Similarly, for authors it’s suddenly all about reviews, ‘bout reviews, no trouble. Well, it should be no trouble. A person who doesn’t want to review a book because they have to take time to read it shouldn’t be following an author at all. Authors write books and books are for people who like to read. People who don’t like to read go to YouTube videos-- for the song All About That Bass or for anything else--and write inane comments. This actually doesn’t take more time and effort than reading, but they prefer to do it because that’s what they like. It might be unkind to call them names, but I’ve never forgotten it when someone I knew said, “Don’t read the comments on YouTube. Your brain will disappear.”
There are many businesses now that offer (in some cases guaranteed) Amazon reviews for your books if you pay, as well as free review programs like the one on StoryOrigin. Why is this? Because people review a lot less than they used to and so every author has to ask around. My theory is that after a number of years of reading reviews for products, people noticed a lot of them weren’t very good. Now it’s true they usually weren’t nearly as bad as comments on social media sites—there might be a few trolls in there, but most product reviews were much better thought out. But still, a lot of book reviews didn’t really say anything clear about the book that would justify reading the review. They were vague and used strong, but unclear language—either praise or rejection--and you got more idea of the reviewer's attitudes than of the product itself. In short, they weren’t helpful to people in making purchases. So people became a little shy about expressing themselves through reviews.
There are plenty of professional reviewers out there. Many of them are even paid to deliver high-quality editorial reviews. But nobody is expecting a “real person" putting up a book review to be a professional. (Although actually, pro reviewers are real people in the sense they aren’t bots.) In fact, authors request non-pro reviews because they want readers to hear from a non-expert, just a typical person reading the book, which gives insight beyond the publishing industry and how they talk about books. Potential purchasers can find this very helpful. Reviews also don’t have to be long, polished, or filled with plot analysis. Not only do these take more of the reviewer’s time, they're more suited to beta reading. Whisking off a few lines that clearly describe the book’s content and what was your fav/least fav thing about it doesn’t mean you have to write an essay and it isn’t hard. It’s a great help to readers and authors alike and I hope more people start to realize that reviewing can even be fun.
Well . . . depends on the book, of course. But let’s assume you’ll like most of the books you read.
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Writer
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