Writers and Prose; Are Reviews REALLY that important?
June 9, 2014 12 Comments
I was inspired to write this post after reading this online. Thanks to Diane Nelson for sharing it. I’ll give you a couple minutes to read so you’ll know what got my panties in a bunch.
First of all, there’s a part of me that assumes this post was written to cause some sort of controversy, at least that’s the way I saw it. Out of the eight points, only the last is really valid. The others, to me, didn’t carry any water and judging by the lone comment by a reader, didn’t wash with them either. I’m not going to debunk any of the reasons in the article (although it’s tempting), it’s enough to say they’re weak and a few are stated without any fact to back it up.
In the old paradigm of publishing, reviews were sought after by publishers to help boost the sales of their up and coming books. Back then, the only place you could find new releases were in bookstores, and they had a limited shelf life once they were ‘out in the wild’. Any Trad author will tell you that you have two weeks to make your book a hit (or show a good number of sales) or it disappears from the prominent shelf placement, relegated to the back corners of the store where some never see the light of day again. The more reviews (preferably good) a book received, the longer it stayed in the prime spot, but digital books have no shelf life. They are forever in the same place; very easy to access and always available to the public no matter how many reviews or stars they receive.
Which brings me to the title; are reviews really that important? I think they’re old fashioned. Don’t get me wrong, they can be a good way to help readers understand or learn more about a book (bad grammar, plot, etc) but to be of the mindset that you NEED them to help promote your book, leads authors down roads they shouldn’t travel.
With the onset of troll reviewers, sock puppet and paid reviews, not to mention Amazon’s policy of removing reviews written by authors, it’s become harder now to believe those five-star reviews left for books. People have become cynical and most people I talked to, don’t even look at them when they purchase a book. An author and their book(s) become popular NOT by the amount of reviews, but by word of mouth, and the best way to achieve that, is to make sure you have a product that is equal to anything that is put out by any of the Big Publishers.
Authors need to stop worrying about things they can’t control. There is no shelf-life in the digital age. Now go write that next book.