Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Guest Post with author Wade Lewellyn

Why Reviews Matter:
It’s that time of year when the ritual of making resolutions is petering out for eleven more months. As much as I hate to jump on that annual bandwagon, ever, please forgive me for doing so with a realistic and fully-attainable goal that takes little effort on my part. You see, the only resolution I’ve made this year requires putting my thoughts into words, which is something I do anyway—but more specifically, leaving reviews.

In the past, I never thought my review mattered and often felt like a moron whose opinion would be used as bait for trolls at best. I realize I’m at the more anxious end of the non-reviewer pool, yet I doubt I’m alone. Then I became an author. Suddenly, reviews are the lifeblood of my career, the very barrier between life as an author and life as a corporate cog. This is especially true due to my choice of becoming a self-published author. I never attempted traditional publishing, and honestly had no interest, but that’s beside the point. Reviews are vital to all authors.

This past Wednesday the Top 5 Wednesday BookTube/Goodreads community (created by GingerReadsLainey, that just rolls off your tongue after you listen to it dozens of times) used “Top 5 Buzzwords” as their topic for the week. And trust me, as an author, I watched dozens of these and took notes on what buzzwords readers prefer. Not too surprisingly, many of those words came with caveats attached: “If a reviewer says…” or “Then if I’m intrigued, I’ll go to the reviews…”

Not only are our reviews important in informing other readers, they are used by retailers and promotion sites in their metrics. Logically, many retailers will put books with more reviews (not necessarily higher ratings) at the top of search results. Promoters, such as BookBub, require a title to have a certain number of reviews before they will even work with an author. So, simple reviews of “4 stars, I loved it!” actually make an impact.

Is that what’s truly helpful to an author? Not fully. Yes, it helps add visibility to their work. However, the true benefit to authors, and this may make some apprehensive reviewers squeamish, is learning from the critical feedback in reviews. Authors read the reviews to learn. Scratch that, mature authors read the reviews to learn. While each review is a personal opinion, writers can gain understanding from any review if it’s detailed enough—even when the reader misunderstood something. How did the reader get that impression? How did the author allow for that misunderstanding? Was that particular, and obviously vital, detail not mentioned enough? Asking those kinds of questions help the writer gain clarity in their work. As you can imagine, that’s one example in a sea of learning. Who knew one-way communication could be so useful?

At the heart of the matter, reviews are broadly impactful. Chances are you have an opinion on something you spent over an hour, potentially hours, reading. Why not share it?

Furthermore, if you loved the book, you should review it! Reward the author for a job well done! Reviews minimize the burden of marketing from the author and allow them to focus on their writing, speeding up the release of their next work. Even for traditionally-published books, higher demand through reviews and word of mouth will increase the urgency of the next release. Win-win in my opinion; and isn’t that the point?

About the author:

At a desk surrounded by action figures and stuffed animals from the 80’s and beyond, that’s generally where you’ll find Wade Lewellyn-Hughes. It’s where he gathers his inspiration. Well, there, as well as within shelves of novels, and an unfortunate addiction to Tumblr. By weekday, he’s a day-jobber for a tech company. By weekend, he’s diligently working to promote his debut novel, OPPROBRIUM, and writing the next installment in the Lamentation’s End Series.

Outside of his office, he’s a professional cat warmer specializing in marathoning British television with his husband in Bozeman, Montana. If not writing through his vacations, he prefers to visit the UK, Ireland, or Orlando theme parks—or an immersive RPG world.

You can find more information on his upcoming projects by joining his mailing list here.

1 comment:

  1. I've always known that reviews are important to authors so I write reviews for everything I read. But your post on why reviews matter has given me a better understanding of exactly why they're important. Thank you.