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Why Even A Bad Review Can Help Sell A Book. From NPR. Take heart dear author, why even bad reviews can help you!

Speaking personally, and in particular with new or self-published authors, I am suspicious of all positive reviews. A few negative or average reviews gives credibility. Are only the author’s friends writing reviews? Are only people who got a free copy writing reviews? Are friends and freebies the only people reading it? An author should hope for a wider reading audience.

I encountered a new, self-published author who was working hard to “control” his reviews and get only positive ones. Working so hard to control your reviews is…revealing. It indicates some problems with an author’s motives and ethics.

Authors need reasonable expectations and a thick skin. No matter how clearly you write, someone out there will still miss the point. Realistically, no book will be liked by everyone, even if it is well written.

Readers, please don’t be afraid to write a less-than-positive review. Some are afraid of hurting the author’s feelings, which is admirable. But you CAN offer critique in a fair and balanced way. I had a previous post entitled: Tips for writing fair book reviews that don’t make the author cry. I offer various suggestions in the post, but both you as a reviewer and the review itself will come across better if it is fair and balanced, rather than a negative attack.

Readers, authors truly NEED your reviews! For multiple reasons…

  • Word of mouth has always been critical, but even more so in the publishing world today. The market is flooded with books, and without reviews and personal recommendation a book will not see the light of day. It will drown in the deluge. Good books can remain in obscurity, which is sad.
  • In the internet age, many look for book reviews on amazon, blogs, and goodreads. Even if you did not purchase a book new, you can still write a review. You may have acquired the book used, borrowed it, or received it as a gift. You can note how you obtained the book for amazon reviews, which will explain why it does not show as a “verified purchase” from amazon.
  • A review is a way to thank an author and let them know that their book is having an impact. It can be lonely and isolating to be an author. You pour your heart, soul, time, and effort into writing the book…and then hear…crickets.
  • If it is an author’s first book, how will they improve for their next book if they don’t receive any feedback or constructive criticism? If several reviews note that they appreciated the topic, but the choppy writing made it hard to read – the author can hopefully take from this that they should take a writing class to improve their writing style.

Soon-to-be authors out there: Are you familiar with Christian author Mary DeMuth and her Book Launch Mentor? She offers articles, ideas, and services to help you get your book published and launched.

I appreciate the encouraging and helpful posts at the blog Marketing Christian Books, which is connected to the CSPA – Christian Small Publishers Association.

Lots of interesting thoughts in this post: Things No One Tells You About Self-Publishing. Here is one: “Bestseller lists are not a meritocracy. Sometimes a book is on the bestseller list for a week and never heard of again. Other times a book has steady sales for years but never makes any lists or wins any awards.”

I had one more thought, but will save it for another post…

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