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Why Writers Need Reviews
Guest post by Bella Osborne
Hi Suze and Anniek,
Thanks so much for having me on your blog.
I know I’m like many writers in that I regularly check book sites like Amazon, KOBO and Goodreads to see if I have any new reviews. As soon as I see that the number of reviews has increased since I last looked I feel pleased and excited that someone has taken the time to comment. There is also the doubt fairy whispering in my ear - What if they hated it? What if it’s a one star?
When you’ve spent what on average is a year of your life producing a book to the best of your ability you naturally want readers to have enjoyed it, but as the very old adage goes ‘you can’t please all of the people, all of the time’ and that is certainly very true of writing books.
So why do writers need reviews?
Because they are really important. Every review will have an impact whether it is in the very complicated workings of an Amazon algorithm or simply to inform another potential reader. As writers we are blessed to have the support of bloggers who always take the time and effort to provide a thoughtful review without any spoilers and in a timely manner. Sadly the vast majority of readers leave no review at all.
Doing some rough maths on my own books the review rate is circa 0.5%. We all lead busy lives so it’s understandable but if just a few more of us pressed that button at the end of reading a book it would make such a difference to the author. What tends to happen is the view you get is often polarised, as the readers that feel compelled to write a review are either those who loved it or those who absolutely hated it. Just a few more of those who enjoyed the middle ground would really help.
Here’s why. Put simply reviews help to encourage sales which push it up the various charts, sales make the publisher happy which means they will offer the author another contract, so readers will get more books and the author will get fed – it’s a win:win for everyone.
So why doesn’t everyone leave a review? Many think it will take too long, some people don’t think it matters. I also think some readers see lengthy comments and think they can’t write a comprehensive review so instead they don’t bother. But the truth is, it’s quick, easy and all the reviews and star ratings count so a one word review is equally as valuable as a 200 word version.
According to The Bookseller one in every five paperbacks sold has been purchased through a supermarket. If you pick up a book with your shopping and enjoy it you may have thought there’s nowhere to leave a review. Wrong, there’s – Amazon and Goodreads.
Some think they can only leave a review on Amazon if they bought it from there – not true. You get a ‘verified purchase’ tag if it was an Amazon purchase but that’s the only difference.
The secrecy around the inner workings of Amazon means that nobody really knows how many reviews will impact whether Amazon recommends your book in the ‘Also bought’ section but we do know having more reviews can only make that more likely. Being recommended by Amazon has a huge impact on sales, so your review really does count.
Most importantly writers need reviews because it gives us a disproportionate incentive to keep writing. When someone tells you that they enjoyed your book it’s the icing on the cake and it will keep that author powered with happy thoughts for quite some time.
I know some authors believe the star rating has no bearing on whether someone will buy their book or not but just in case it does - as an author to a reader I ask you, please, next time you read a book just spend a few seconds giving it a star rating and a one word review, it might just make a whole lot of difference to the author. Thank you.
About Bella Osborne
I've been jotting down my stories for as far back as I can remember... well that's not exactly true. I remember writing a story when I was about nine and I was in Mrs Hurran's class. The story was about a thief who stole the crown jewels but then didn't know what to do with them. It went on for pages and pages, in my spiders dance handwriting, so my teacher typed it up and pinned it to the classroom wall. It was a proud day!
Somehow life took over, I got a sensible job and the writing has remained a hobby which other people puzzle over and which I adore.
Over the years there have been dalliances into poetry, short stories and five unfinished novels. But I decided that 2013 would be the year that was going to change. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer Scheme which gave me a deadline to chase - a full length novel had to be completed and submitted for review by 31st August. I beat the deadline by a month!
In 2014 I secured a two book contract with Harper Impulse, part of the HarperCollins Group, and my first novel 'It Started at Sunset Cottage' was published in ebook format on 12th February 2015 and paperback on 23rd April 2015. It went on to be shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award and the RNA Contemporary Novel of the Year 2016.
My second book 'A Family Holiday' was published Summer 2016 and was shortlisted for RNA Contemporary Novel of the Year 2017.
In 2016 I moved to Avon which is also part of the wonderful HarperCollins family. My latest novel 'Escape to Willow Cottage' was released in four digital instalments ahead of the whole story being published August 2017.
I am currently editing novel number four which is set in a fictional Devon village and has the working title 'A Year in Ottercombe Bay'. Watch this space for more details!
One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive a beautiful Escape to Willow Cottage book cover tote bag from Bella Osborne.
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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.