Book reviews are useful, aren’t they? Whether written by a professional book reviewer (whatever one of those is) or a reader on Amazon, or in a blog. I very rarely buy a book without reading a review first. There have been exceptions to this over the years, but not many. One was Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. I happened to be walking into my local WH Smiths, and spotted the hardback on the shelf, and its cover called out to me, like a siren enticing a sailor onto the rocks. The beautiful, simple cover design tempted me to part with my money, and fortunately the writing within lived up to the promise of the packaging.
I also might buy a book on impulse if it is by an author I like. An example of this was 11.22.63 by Stephen King. As soon as I saw it I just knew I had to have it. Strangely, Under The Dome did not have the same effect on me, and I still have not read it. 11.22.63 is a fantastic read, by the way.
But mostly, if am considering a new book purchase, I read the reviews first. I might look at the star rating on Amazon, pick out a few five star reviews, followed by a couple of four star, and then head on down to the one star ratings. Sometimes the book might get a one star rating because Amazon mucked up on the delivery, which annoys me no end. Haven’t these people heard of customer service?
Anyway, based on the reviews I then make a judgement about whether or not to buy.
I should imagine you do pretty much the same, right?
So, reviews are valuable, both the positive and the negative, and help with decision making.
Which might make what I am about to say next sound a bit weird.
I have come to a decision recently. I’ve been mulling it over for a little while, but it hasn’t been a hard decision. To be honest, I had pretty much made up my mind from the moment the thought popped into my head. In fact, the thought was planted into my head, by Chuck Wendig over at his Terrible Minds blog. So if you are going to blame anyone, blame him, okay?
I have decided I am not going to write anymore negative reviews. Ever.
Why’s that? I hear you ask.
Well, okay, as you asked.
I am a writer, and I don’t feel comfortable with thought of pissing all over a fellow writer’s labour of love, (her baby for crying out loud!) on Amazon, or anywhere else for that matter, for all the world to see. I don’t care if it is a pile of foul, stinky pig poo, I’m just not going to do it. There are already enough reviewers out there chomping at the bit to take a knife, or an axe, and chop up that labour of love into tiny, bloody little pieces.
Why should I want to join in?
But, I have a duty to be honest in my reviews, right? It’s not going to go well for me if I give an unutterable slice of tripe a glowing review, thus persuading some poor innocent, in search of a riveting read, to buy it, is it? What kind of reputation would I garner then?
My solution, therefore, is this: from now on I am going to loudly celebrate that writing which catches, and holds, my attention, and quietly ignore the rest. I’m going to shout from the rooftops about the stories which make me cry, laugh, cringe in the corner, staring wild eyed at the shadows whilst drooling onto my shirt, and silently disregard the stinkers.
This year I especially want to celebrate indie authors, and shout about them, lifting them up as shining examples of the art and craft of fiction writing and publishing. I want the world to know that being a self-published author is nothing to be ashamed of, but, actually, we should be proud.
But I need some help.
I need you to recommend a self-published novel that you have read and enjoyed, one that you think is absolutely the mutt’s nuts. No, I don’t want you to foist your self-published novel on me, no matter how good you (or your aunt Ethel) imagine it might be. I want your recommendations of other writers’ works.
So, do you think you can help me? Have you read an indie novel recently that had you jumping up and down with excitement, unable to control the urge to press it on everyone you know?
Please let me know if you have. And if I read it and enjoy it too, I might even post a review.