Why Independent Authors Love Your Good Reviews: It’s Not About the Marketing

1420024_five_golden_stars_isolatedI think many readers don’t understand how much we authors in independent publishing depend on their reviews. Not just to help sales. Not just because of Amazon’s algorithms. Not just to provide marketing fodder.

No one book is for everyone. Every independent author will get negative reviews from some readers, and that’s the reader’s right when he or she doesn’t enjoy the book. I’m not complaining about legitimate and respectful bad reviews, and I don’t resent them.

Still, we writers need positive feedback to go along with the criticism. We need something to keep our confidence up. Something to motivate us and to remind us that yes, we have a reason to keep on writing.

We need reminders about why we’re doing what we’re doing. While we know we can’t please everyone with our art, it’s a medicine for the soul to realize we at least have pleased someone.

MEDICINE FOR THE SOUL

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For someone like me, just starting out and releasing books after six+ years of working on my drafts with beta readers, I often doubt myself chronically.

It doesn’t help that I suffer from anxiety on a regular basis. It’s a part of my life, and I’ve learned to accept and to deal with it. That’s not what this post is about; that’s just background information to help explain that I often wonder:

  • Did I release my book too soon?
  • Is my book any good? Would it ever be any good, even if I’d worked on it longer? Sure, I got support from people who had read it before I released, but….
  • How can I ever balance trying to establish myself as a writer with supporting myself financially? Is it even worth it? Should I just give up the writing?
  • Am I chasing my dreams or am I being ridiculous, trying to do something I just don’t have the talent to accomplish?

I have a method to handle the bad reviews–I outline it here–but that doesn’t make them easy to stomach. We all have to stomach them.

A good review can turn around a writer’s entire mindset.

A good review can remind a writer that yes, the time, and the effort, and the pain of putting yourself out there are all worth it. You’ve touched someone. Your work truly touched someone; it spoke to his or her soul and made that person think. It opened new possibilities for that person.

A good review can remind a writer that although he or she may not be William Shakespeare, yes, he or she is talented. Potential is there: the potential to inspire, to comfort, to entertain, possibly even to teach.

A good review doesn’t just let a writer know that he or she isn’t crazy for having written and released that novel. It provides evidence to prove that fact. And that’s powerful, because when you’re doubting yourself, you need that proof.

(In case you’re wondering what inspired this post, I got a touching five star review today on goodreads at a moment when I was tearing myself apart. To know that someone enjoyed my work enough to say such positive things about it was a huge comfort.)

PLEASE WRITE REVIEWS

I’m sure I’m not the only writer who needs reassurance from time to time that I haven’t lost my mind for doing what I’m doing, trying to convince people my work is worth reading.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who falls into spirals of doubt. So please, take a moment to write a good review about the books that you enjoy reading.

If you’re not sure what kind of information is helpful in a review, this post can help you.

It’s not about marketing or sales. It’s not about being a “fan girl” or “fan boy.” It’s not about anything beyond offering encouragement and support to the writer whose work touched you.

After all, we all need support and encouragement from time to time, no matterย  our chosen career paths or life situations.

So, writers, has a good review ever touched you? Have you ever received one, like I did, at a moment when you really needed someone to tell you, “You’re doing all right, and you’re good at what you do”?

Reviewers: why do you review? What is your favorite thing about writing reviews?

Please comment. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog by email. You can sign up at the top right of the page.

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33 responses to “Why Independent Authors Love Your Good Reviews: It’s Not About the Marketing

  1. I haven’t published anything yet, but it is a confidence builder when a beta reader reacts positively. The more I get wrapped up in revising, the easier it is to believe maybe my work isn’t ever going to be publishable. When I write a review I am usually thinking of telling a potential reader what I thought, so thanks for reminding that the author might care what I write, too.

    • I know some authors who never read reviews. And I can understand why. As you know, a reviewer should never shape the review for the sake of the author–a review is for potential readers, like you said–but just like beta reader feedback, a good review can be a big confidence boost for a writer.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful post, Victoria! You are so right, a good review is like a shot of love straight to an author’s heart.

  3. Victoria, I’m so happy to hear that my review helped you! I write reviews for books that I loved so that other readers who might enjoy them can find them too, because I’m very grateful for reviews that led me to pick up a great book and I want to return the favor. But I also think the author deserves to hear that their work is appreciated. I’m so glad the review came at a good time for you, and I hope you keep writing wonderful books!

  4. Hey Victoria- Great post! This really captured how those positive reviews can help! I checked my Facebook one night a couple of weeks ago and had a message from someone who had checked my book out at the library and stopped on page 41 to find me on Facebook because she was enjoying the book so much that she wanted to let me know! WOW!! I am still living on the high of that one! Having someone tell you that your words made them laugh, or cry, or think, or feel—-that’s what it’s all about for writers! That’s why we do it- to share our stories with others and hope that it impacts them in some tiny way-if only to bring them a laugh on an otherwise melancholy day. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • thanks so much for your comment, Jennie. I appreciate you stopping by and sharing your story. WOW. That really is amazing. I’d still be living off that high too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Reviews are so important to authors, whether they are independently or traditionally published. I imagine Stephen King doesn’t worry too much about his, but every other writer I know sure does! Thanks for another great post.

  6. I’m a huge reader, favourite thing to do, I would happily be a beta reader for anyone and I would hopefully be kind but very honest, I’m happy to read all genres. I hadn’t considered how important a positive review may be to an author’s mindset, I also thought why would they care what I think, glad I read this post and it’s encouraged me to do more reviews.

  7. I can’t speak yet as a published author on how reviews make me feel, but I can imagine as a writer how it would. Validation, is the word that comes to mind. As you said, it validates why you choose to write and put your heart and soul out there. It is all for the readers. You want someone else to want to read what you write, someone that is not a friend or family member, that has no vested interest in pacifying you, but enjoyed what you had to say.

    As a reviewer, I can tell you why I do what I do. When I first decided to write a blog, from all that I had read, it said to write what you know, what you are passionate about. Then it was easy. My biggest passion is reading. My passion for writing stemmed from that love. I knew there were so many review blogs out there, and the majority were for the A-List authors, or the most heard of ones, at least. My first thought was, “who am I to review them?’ I am not experienced enough. Then the advice I read also said to find a niche. I didn’t see a lot of reviewers reviewing ONLY debut authors. There are more now, but a year ago, not so many. So, that is what I did. I realized how vital the reviews are for the debut indie author, battling for attention among the “greats”. I wanted to help them get the exposure and hoped at the same time to be starting my platform so when my time came, someone would read my book and leave a review. Of course, I am not speak obligatory reviews, but honest ones. That is all I will give or accept. If it isn’t a fair review, it is of no value to the reader or to the author.

    • amazing comment giving the reviewer’s perspective, Rebecca! Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚ I totally agree with you. Thanks for your input, and thanks for your work reviewing debut authors ๐Ÿ™‚ I totally agree with what you say here: it has to be fair and honest or it’s worthless.

  8. I was talking to someone the other day about the loneliness of a reviewless book on Amazon– and I couldn’t agree more that good reviews are so essential for the indie writer. Being an indie writer is kind of a mixture between humility and humiliation, and those little (or big) things like positive reviews help so much in keeping you going when you feel like you can’t.

  9. I do read mine but not usually right away. It’s great to hear what someone really thinks. Believe it or not, it affects my books coming later on.

    • It does mine too. Reviews provide great feedback about how I develop characters and a story, and how I handle pacing. If it seems there are issues with my style, I can adjust for them in future works. Great point, Brian! Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Thank you for posting this! A little encouragement really does go a long way. ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. We need to know if we’re heading in the right direction with our work. In all other forms of employment, we are aware of our performance. We get paid for the work we do, to start with, so our work has a perceived value right from the beginning. Then we receive regular performance reviews, some of which might be related to reward, either financially, or otherwise. Finally, we get feedback from our boss, even if it’s just ‘great job, Ali!’ For me, the review serves this purpose. It makes it all worthwhile.

    • That’s a wonderful analogy: reviews really are like performance reviews in their way. That’s why we need them. I hadn’t thought of it exactly that way, but love your take on it, Ali. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  12. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Food for thought.

  13. Pingback: What Writing Has Taught Me | Searching For The Happiness

  14. Nice post! I always like to hear that something I wrote made someone cry. Does that make me a sadist?

    • I don’t think so! There are good and bad forms of crying and I don’t think feeling for a fictional person is a bad form of crying or something people resent or are harmed by ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Your passion for writing is obvious, so you will always touch someone with your words because of this. I review because I understand the angst of a writer, being one myself. I try to always list the positive first. If there is a negative, I try to couch it in a respectful manner so the author is more willing to hear it. Overall I love to read, so I like to give kudos when I’ve been entertained for touched by the book.

    The way I toughen myself up before a book release to is put it on : http://page99test.com/ . Love how they do their blind review system and it gives me a percentage to work with. I try to learn from each criticism and remember it is based on perception and opinion. Since my opinion is I’m going to write not matter what, I enjoy the process and don’t take to heart the negative. Only try to improve. You are on the right path and your blogs are an excellent encouragment.

    • Thank you so much for your support and your thoughts ๐Ÿ™‚ And thanks for letting all of us here know about page99test. I’ve never heard of that before and it sounds like a wonderfully useful tool! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Great post. I’m really glad you had such a great review. I’m not a published writer but it is always encouraging to receive good feedback. I never usually think about writing a review but after reading this post I will start to do so for books I’ve liked.

  17. “A good review can turn around a writerโ€™s entire mindset. A good review can remind a writer that yes, the time, and the effort, and the pain of putting yourself out there are all worth it. Youโ€™ve touched someone.”

    This is so true, and you’ve put it so eloquently. Yes, we write for writing’s sake, and because we must. But when the writing gets hard and it would be so easy to just…stop, we write because there are people who want to read it, who get something positive out of the words we create.

    Terrific post, and one I wish every reader could see.

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