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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.)