Why review?

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There’s been a lot of gnashing of teeth by those who regularly post reviews on Amazon as well as their own blogs. Apparently Amazon’s Terms of Service has been updated, and incentivized reviews have been targeted for particular notice. They are the big dogs in the kennel and know they can do what they want.

Amazon, “The Great and Mighty Zon”, wants to ensure a more reliable system for reviews, ostensibly to allow readers to feel more confident in the quality of a particular product. A book with a hundred five-star reviews isn’t necessarily a reliable gauge of quality since many of those reviews may be given under less-than-honest circumstances. In other words, the reviewer received the book in question for free, but holds an inherent understanding that the review may be expected to be automatically a four- or five-star review. Slight (and sometimes not-so-slight) pressure is always there for the reviewer to jack up the review rating.

Well, the damage is done. Some reviews have been stripped from some books already. I don’t have reliable figures, but I suppose we should expect that it would happen. What am I going to do? The same thing I have been doing. Asking people for reviews.

So I ask everyone out there. Please review.

Personally, I don’t mind sending out some free copies to get an honest review. Sure, heaven forbid, the review may not be stellar. But I don’t want it to be fake. I’m not looking for an ego stroke. I’m just looking to get my stories out there to as many people as possible. I expect that not everyone is going to like what I’ve written, because that would be unreasonable. People’s tastes in stories (especially horror) can be vastly different and I may not be someone’s ‘cup of tea’.

I’m looking for reviewers who are totally honest with their appraisals. It does me no good to falsify the quality, for I know it will eventually be found out. I never want to cheat a reader of a good experience. I’m willing to risk some not-so-great reviews just to ensure that the readers get the full story about anything I’ve written.

I’ve got two other early novels still out there right now. The first, Still Waters, is about a stock market portfolio manager who loses his job and retires in disgust to a cabin near a forest. He meets an ill-tempered creature. The entire story is about the relationship this man has with the unknown, and his growth because of it.

Yeah, I know. Sounds too pretentious and literary. It probably is. My descriptions were sometimes overblown and it was a bit more wordy than it should have been. That’s on me, and I know it. I really didn’t have an editor then, and my craft was still developing. If I could rewrite the story now, I probably would, but I can’t. I don’t have it in me since the story has already been told. So I’m thinking I’ll take that and the other novel, Legend of the Tiger, off the market soon. The other novel is a fantasy action-adventure about five family pets that must save the world. Neither story reflects my best work, or any real editing. But I’ll keep them available for the time being.

Neither has a single review. And they are mine. At times I look at them and wince, knowing I missed a good chance to tell a great story.

Were they failures? I know the stories were solid, but my craft was lacking, as was an editor. I knew what I wanted to do and perhaps fell short. It happens.

But here is the thing. I could have used honest reviews as guides to better my craft. Sure I want every reader to love what I’ve written. But that’s not real. And I need real reviews to be able to move forward in my skill level.

And Indie writers know that Amazon is really the only way to go for maximum exposure.

So, Deadies, if you decide to buy a book, write a review. Whether or not you like it. A few writers, like me, crave honest reviews. The more reviews, the more likely searching readers will find what they want without fear, and if more people do this, it’ll help you make decisions on future works. Amazon’s algorithms are such that once a book gets twenty to twenty-five reviews, it gets greater exposure on the site. At fifty or so, the algorithms start recommending the book.

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If you like a book, say so. It matters more than you think.

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