And How it Works with Me
* Please note that this is not a plug for you to review my books. I thought it would be a helpful exercise for readers and my fellow indie authors.
Customer reviews are a very important part of today’s online marketplace, and especially so for independent, self-publishing authors (indies). Reviews, whether good or bad, long or short, help bring the novel, and the author, to the attention of potential readers and informs said readers of what they might expect of the story. A review can be anything from just the selected number of stars with no comment, or the minimally required amount of wording, to multiple paragraphs worth of recap and evaluation. Personally, I prefer not having to wade through a stack of reviews that could be considered novels in their own right when I’m shopping, though they do have their place and can be very helpful to the author. But, having at least some kind of comment to explain why the reviewer gave however many stars they chose to award, is always helpful. I do have to admit, though, that I have left my share of comment-less stars.
Anyway, when I first started leaving reviews, I struggled with the concept. What should I say, and how should I say it? And why would anybody want to hear my (a total stranger’s) opinion? I ended up searching for solutions, formulas, or instructions. While there are no clear-cut step-by-step one-size-fits-all formulas, I did come up with a set of instructions that can get the job done. I’ve listed the steps below and, for general amusement and a lesson in what not to do, I also added the way I actually do it.
1. Read the book, letting thoughts and impressions flow freely.
Me: Read the book; if it’s good, get sucked right in as my mind blots out the words with mental pictures.
2. Take note of thoughts and impressions (good and bad).
Me: If it’s really good, ride that train until the end without pause, in full immersion mode.
3. Consider your thoughts and impressions.
Me: Flip-flop around for a few days trying to come up with ideas, and panic that I have no clue how to write a good review. Finally, just ignore the whole thing for a week — I call it percolating.
4. Collect the thoughts and impressions into a rough draft.
Me: Panic again as I realize that I used up twelve of the fourteen days I allotted to finish this review. Finally sit down to grasp those fleeting impressions in the netherworld of my scatterbrain.
5. Turn the rough draft into a review by picking a number of stars you think the book deserves (in your humble opinion) and listing the things you liked and disliked.
Me: Go through the mind-vomit of my Rocky-Mountains-rough first draft so it resembles something that make sense. Then go through it again to make sure it also makes sense to others. Proofread and spell check the whole thing, then re-read it one, two, three more times before posting it. And lastly, re-read it again online, and then panic again when I find that last typo I missed.
So, the concept is pretty simple, five easy steps. Of course, you could always just say ‘Loved it!’ or ‘It sucked,’ but that doesn’t really help other readers, or the author for that matter. Because what you love, somebody else might not, and vice versa. But hey; you do you, and I’ll take whatever you give me.