Skip to main content

To review, or not to review....

I see them all the time on Facebook. On Twitter. On forums. I've left them myself like little droppings - the meme begging readers to leave a review on Amazon. The claim that if I get 50 I'll suddenly find myself promoted as never before, be put on 'other customers also bought this lists', that the magic book-selling point will be turned.

I see them and I get guilty. See, I'm not a particularly good reviewer. Not in terms of my scoring (although my goodreads average indicates I'm not a give-everyone-five-stars-and-have-done-with-it type). In terms of the actual review. For someone who studied English Literature at university, I'm woeful at analysing a book in such terms as to make people want to buy it.

I'm also terrible at reading on kindle. Frankly, my kindle is on my ipad. As are games, surfing, music and a million other things to take my attention. In addition, I've reached the heady heights of being a writer worth approaching for a cover blurb, apparently, and my e-reading time is being eroded by that (because, yes, authors do read them first. I was never sure.)

I have no desire to get an e-reader - I like my nice scruffy paper versions just fine. Which means I have about fifteen books sitting on my kindle waiting to be read, some of whom are by authors who've reviewed mine and I'd like to - but am under no obligation to, there were no dodgy dealings between us - get to and review, if I like the book (if I don't, I won't leave a review.)

Which means, frankly, as a reviewer I'm rubbish. I'm not going to get people to their 50 reviews. So, there, I've come clean.

Coming to that conclusion, however, started my brain-cogs a-working (darn you, busy mind, I have enough on without thinking of blog subjects).

 Firstly, since when did getting mountain of Amazon reviews become the be all and end all of being an author? What happened to that old devil word-of-mouth?

I've been supported by all sorts of people this year - bloggers, professional reviews, forums, writing groups, shops, my family, reviewers on Amazon - and yet, somehow, we've come to equate being left an Amazon review as above all others.

It's not. It's really, really not. It's another way of making writers jump through ever more hoops of false success parameters. Better to have one thoughtful four star review - or a five star, I'm not averse to a five star - than fifteen single line left-to-give-a-rating reviews. But do my Amazon and Goodread reviews (and I'm lucky enough to have good ones, by and large) matter more than the World tour started by my aunt and uncle last year? Do they matter as much as when someone asks on a forum for alien invasion recs and four people shout out your book? Do they matter as much as someone who has mentioned my books on twitter to an interested audience several times?

If reviews aren't your bag, find another way to support your fellow writers. I will call anything out on facebook that I see. I will give blogspots to people who could do with a bit of a promo hit, if they ask. I will critique and beta. I will give help on forums. I will interview people and give them advice on promo and getting into bookshops. I will tweet people's award noms.

I just don't do many reviews. And that's brought guilt, as if I'm not doing the one thing every writer should do for another.

I'm done with the guilt. I'm done with playing Amazon's game and seeing reviews as the only way my book's will succeed. If I review, I review because I have time and something to say. If I don't,  and you're an author, please be assured I will call your name out if I see a relevant thread, I will support what I can to help you. And I'll feel all the better for finally being honest with myself, and stopping promising what I can't give.


Anonymous said…
You make a lot of sense it is hard for me to write a review as well. I dig how you still like the books....keep typing up your blogs.
Joanne Zebedee said…
Thank you! I'll keep typing them. I like writing the blog, and it keeps me out of mischief (mostly.)

Popular posts from this blog

A NATURAL HISTORY OF GOBLINS - a guest blog by Teresa Edgerton

Some fantasy writers like to write about elves, others prefer werewolves, vampires, or zombies. I have a penchant for goblins.

In folklore, the word "goblin" has been applied in myriad ways. A goblin might be a mischievous sprite like Puck, a hideous, vengeful ghost, or even a beneficient house spirit such as a brownie. Sometimes it was used as a synonym for fairy, sometimes applied to a separate race: small, ugly, and malicious. I've taken advantage of this ambiguity, and in each series of books I've written where goblins appear, I've reinvented them.

In the second Celydonn series (sequels to The Green Lion Trilogy) they are fuathan, bad fairies if you will. I like writing about fairies. Even the best of them are not nice; they are not benevolent. On occasion they may be extravagently generous. Grateful for small favors, they return them with magnificent gifts and spectacular rewards. But you cannot trust them. Their morality is not our morality, their laws…

Getting hearts racing, an interview with fantasy-romance novelist Suzanne Jackson

Today I'm chatting with Suzanne Jackson, whose debut novel has been picked up by Venus Ascending, a new fantasy/sci-fi romance imprint headed up by Teresa Edgerton. I'm lucky enough to be a critique partner of Sue's, and can confirm that this book is something special with a great, unique world, sumptuous writing, a fantastic female lead, and the so-bad-he's-irresistible Nicholas Jarrett.
So I thought I'd be the first to nab the elusive Suzanne and find out what makes her - and her world - tick.


Firstly, tell us a little about your world, and how you've managed to marry fantasy with romance?

Hi, Jo. Thank you for inviting me onto your blog for my very first interview. I’m thrilled to be able to talk a little bit about my book and characters.
The Beguiler is set in a fantasy world similar in many ways to Georgian England. Many people are superstitious, with goo…


This week a theme has emerged over my conversations and interactions, almost organically. That theme is about communities and how they can give a voice and strength to the individuals within it. I’m a member of a range of writing communities. Some, such as Women Aloud and the SFFchronicles, I’m pretty central to. Some, less so:
Despite having a reputation for writing some dark scenes, my work isn’t dark enough to be classed as grimdark*. And I don’t read a whole heap of Grimdark books (the odd one slips through my eclectic book-selection part of my brain, but so does the odd macho-man romance.) But I like the Grimdark community grimdark fiction readers & writers – they’re funny and warm (I know, I know, they really need to up their grim credentials) and very welcoming. And moderated as tightly as a group needs to be. So, I hang around and post the odd comment and chat with the odd member – not that they’re all odd, of course – and that’s as far as it needs to go. The group have …