Nothing makes me cringe more than asking for reviews. I’m not talking about reviews from press outlets, I’m talking actual customer reviews. Yes, they really do matter as much as you’ve heard. And yes, that’s why we authors are always playing offense when it comes to star ratings. We have to ask. Because they matter that much.
I wish they didn’t.
In a perfect world you’d read my book and that would be the end of it. In that perfect world you’d read my next book too. And maybe you’d tell other people that you’re reading my books and that you like them, so then maybe those people would go out and read my books. In this hypothetical Utopia, you and your friend(s) would be reading all my stuff and I’d be more than happy with that.
I can’t be, though.
Not in this age of endless content. Because there are roughly one billion things competing for your attention at any given moment. So please believe me when I say this: I am grateful to everyone who’s ever read one of my books. I know how much material is out there competing for your attention and so the privilege of that attention is not lost on me.
It’s all the more reason I have to ask you for an Amazon review. Think of it like this: Amazon has millions of books out there. The online retailer doesn’t necessarily know what’s good and what isn’t (although the dreaded algorithm can probably get pretty close to figuring it out these days). Yes, sales are still the best way of telling Amazon that a product has value. Kindle Unlimited page reads will accomplish this too. And the best way to ensure those things continue to happen is to leave reviews. A good review is better than gold because now you’ve got a customer, someone who spent their hard-earned money on your product, telling the algorithm that, yes, this thing is worth your time.
This goes for most of the content you consume. I know many indie filmmakers who’d say the same. We’re all looking for a way to stand out. Any edge we can get. And you, wonderful consumer, are way more powerful than you probably realize. Believe me, most of us HATE to ask. We’re aware of how it looks to those who may not understand why we’re doing it. We’ve got a lot of pride, which means even asking for reviews is quite a hill to climb for many of us.
I’ve been doing this for a long time now, and I’ve heard from a lot of readers about their resistance to reviews. It’s never nefarious. Most people admit they procrastinate because they feel like A) they’re not insightful enough to leave their thoughts or B) their reviews are too short and they feel guilty about that. Let me assure you: one or two sentences is plenty! Sure, we’ll take longer, more in depth analyses, but if all you want to say is “I couldn’t put this book down and I’ll definitely read this author again” then that’s a huge victory for any of us. Sincerely.
It is an extra step for you and one that I want to acknowledge. I think that’s actually why I’ve never made the move into merchandising. I’ve had inquiries about putting Cyrus Hoyt on a t-shirt, for example, but I’m not there yet. My novels are my product and the last thing I want to think about is slapping my werewolves on the side of a coffee mug and asking readers to pony up for more junk they don’t need. That’s just me. I don’t begrudge the approach, but in a world where you have to fight for attention, I choose to focus my energies on getting you to buy my books.
And hey, that opinion is subject to change. Hell, it probably will. For now though I’m content to let my books be the only thing out there with my name on it.
The bottom line is that we’re all slaves to the algorithm. Whichever algorithm that happens to be. We know that and it stinks. But with your help and a few extra minutes it can stink a little less.
So what do you say? Why not go over to Amazon right now and leave a review for the last book you read?