Read, Reflect, Review…

You know how sometimes a topic seems to crop up in lots of different places at the same time? Well for the past few days, everywhere I turn, I bump into conversations about book reviews.

No-one really knows the true value of a review. We all think we understand their importance on Amazon, (although every time we think we’ve sussed out how this hugely important part of our industry thinks, it seems to change the algorithm), but are we right?
Is it true that once a book gets over 50 reviews there is a positive impact on visibility?
Why are some reviews being blocked because they are perceived to be by close friends or associates? Is it really impossible for a close friend to give a genuine review?
Is it better to have a sprinkling of poor reviews among a larger number of good ones? 
And, truthfully, do reviews matter at all? Do readers take any notice of them? I know of some people who read them avidly, and others who ignore them completely. Personally, if I am considering buying a book by an untried (by me) author, I will scan the breakdown for the balance of 5 stars versus 1 stars, but am more likely to be influenced by the free sample which I download and read before making a decision.
But whatever the true value, like most authors, especially indies, I spend a lot of time wondering why I don’t get more reviews. My Amazon score for Gorgito’s Ice Rink is 4.6 out of 5, which is very gratifying, but the number of reviews, after an initial burst post-publication, has slowed significantly. For my Business of Writing books, I have a tiny handful of reviews so far. Every time someone tells me they have enjoyed one of my books, I always ask them to consider writing a review, although initially, I found that very difficult to do. I also ask them to recommend the book to their friends – and that’s what the review system does on a larger scale.
In two different Facebook groups over the past week, I’ve come across discussions about reviews. I’ve been asked the question: do you always write reviews yourself? And I’ve had to respond that honestly, I don’t. If I’ve enjoyed the book, I always mean to, but there’s so much else to do that it tend to get pushed to the bottom of the To-Do list and then it’s too late – so I don’t.
So if I can’t make an effort to review books I’ve enjoyed, and I’m a writer,why should I expect my readers to be any different? A review doesn’t have to be long; a couple of crisp sentences can often be better than a rehash of the synopsis – especially if other reviewers have already gone into great detail. 
Incidentally, I prefer to ignore, rather than review, a book I’ve not enjoyed, but that’s a discussion for another day.  
So, I’m making a promise: from now on, every book I read and enjoy will be reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads before I move on to the next one. Kind reader, will you join me?
By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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