Feedback, it is more important than a royalty cheque!
Of course it is always a happy moment to see that royalty payment being credited to your bank account but it is a fact that the size of your royalty also reflects the size of your readership.
Like so many other things in life it could be bigger!
Now one of the proven methods of expanding your readership is getting people to talk about your book and the best person to do that is someone who has read it. We all need someone to right us a review.
For some reason I have found getting a review rather difficult. To date I have sold over 1,200 books on the Kindle platform alone and yet I only have 12 reviews! 2 of these are on Amazon.com and the other 10 on Amazon.co.uk. This is pretty paltry by anyone’s standards, or so I think.
I don’t know what the secret is to getting people to write even a simple review of a book that they enjoyed (these are, after all, the best reviews). I know from my own experiences as an Amazon customer that they do their bit to encourage people to give some kind of feedback, even if it is just a rating of how many stars. The Amazon approach is something of a blanket however, it doesn’t seem to consider what you have bought. For example I bought a replacement iPod lead; does that really need a review? I rated the company because they offered the product that I wanted at a good price and with a speedy delivery, but I didn’t think that the lead itself required any comments. When it comes to something like a book or DVD or a CD, however, I always go back and leave a comment.
I don’t have any reticence about doing this but then I can use words, writing holds no fear for me, which is useful considering what I do! That said I generally do not leave critical essays on books simply because I do not believe that that is what prospective readers want to read. I know that when I browse sites like Amazon I always look at the reviews before buying. I have a habit of looking at both the best and the worst and then scant he others to find any patterns. This is useful because it means that I can discount those reviewers who have just uploaded their personal vitriol, most of which is usually unwarranted. Sadly I find many such examples when looking for books by independent authors.
The point is that reviews are immensely useful to both the author and the reader. An honest review not only give validation to the writer it also helps them discover what they are good at and what they may need to work on. I have certainly found some valuable guidance in the 12 reviews extant on my book The War Wolf, it helped me change for the better, I believe, the text in the second book, but how much more improved might that volume be if more than 1% of my readers had offered their comments on what they had read?
I posted on Twitter a few weeks back that giving an author a review was like giving them a hug. If you genuinely liked what you read then there’s something to that. Books are more personal than iPod leads, they touch our emotions, they take us to fantastic places, they expose us to new ideas, in fact a good book can give an awful lot to the reader; is a review and a star rating too much to ask for in return?