I’ve been watching a very disturbing trend among indie authors that is going to, if it hasn’t already, gives indie a bad taste. Authors have been blogging and posting to social media with posts that indicate they think that readers owe it to authors to leave a review on their books. This smacks of disrespect for the readers and is looking very unprofessional. I’ve seen posts that range from “readers should appreciate all the time it took so should leave a review” to “karma will get you if you don’t review my book”. Really?
Readers don’t owe a writer anything, unless they agreed in advance to review your book. The average reader that buys your book, or downloads it from a generic free book promo you did on Kindle or Smashwords, doesn’t “owe” you a thing. Amazon Kindle apps prompt a reader at the end of a book to rate and leave a review, Smashwords sends emails out to people that have bought books to ask for a review, but really, if a reader didn’t like the book, or wasn’t overly impressed by it or even if they LOVED it, are under no obligation to leave you a review.
As a writer you love to hear feedback. After all it took you months or years to write your book. But the reader doesn’t care. The reader gets a finished product and it doesn’t matter to them if how it got to be a finished product. They just want to be entertained or educated. Some people never review books. Others don’t like posting reviews in public. Some genres are going to get fewer public reviews than others simply because the reader might not want the world to know what they have been reading.
The book sellers are partially responsible for the current begging and chiding readers for reviews because they are using them in their ranking algorithms to move books higher in searches. This doesn’t excuse the public outcry that readers *need* to review books or else you are going to die. Your book will garner attention if the writing is good, the story is good, the cover and blurb are enticing.
What I am talking about here isn’t the normal requests for reviews where writers exchange books or ask reviewers specifically for reviews, that is a totally different animal. The things that make indies look like amateurs are the posts that try to guilt the normal, everyday reader into leaving a review because (insert some reason the author feels entitled). If you gave your book away for free people probably won’t read it that day. It was your decision to make it free. Yes part of the reason is to get reviews. But I would hope it was more to build some readership and realize that people don’t always post in public, but they may talk about your book to their friends in private. Acting and posting in public that you are entitled to reviews just because you think you are is very unprofessional.
A more professional way to entice people to leave reviews is to ask at the end of your book. Maybe have a webpage where readers can go and join your mailing list and if they liked your book they will join and you can send out reminders of how great it would be if they left a review on Amazon or Goodreads or Smashwords. Offer a bonus chapter or something of interest to readers if they join your mailing list. Be creative, you are a writer after all 🙂
Reviews are important, no doubt about that, but let’s be professional about how we try to get them and not offend the very readers you are trying to get to leave those reviews.