If you remember that part in Harry Potter where Sirius is getting his soul sucked out by the Dementor, you’re okay in my book. If you remember that Harry used his Patronus to defeat the dozens of Dementors, you’re more than okay in my book. If you know the Patronus charm is summoned by good memories and it’s extremely powerful, well, why aren’t we drinking beer together more often?
Now, you might be asking what the Patronus charm has to do with book reviews, and it’s pretty simple. Reviews are an author’s happy place, they let us summon our Patronus, and an author with many honest reviews calls forth an animal more powerful than most: confidence. Confidence, when wielded properly, will defeat any other negative spell cast at us by life. Our Patronus will kick its motherfucking ass.
And that, in all honesty, is the mythical power of the review. Reviews lend credibility to our work. For one thing, it proves someone, somewhere is actually reading us. Now, for some of the bigger authors, that might not be a big deal, but us small press and/or self published folk, that knowledge is a big deal. It’s a confidence builder, one of the larger ones, probably more so than whether the review itself is good or not. Now, let me explain that last statement…
If you give us a five star (or whatever the high rating is where you’re leaving the review), we’re just going to nod our heads and be like, “Fuck yeah, that’s my book. I wrote that shit, I know how good it is.” We’ll more than likely puff up our chests, thump it once or twice, and go on about our business. We’ll probably post it up on some social media site with a big ass grin, but that’s it.
The reverse is true when it comes to a bad review… well, mostly. If we’re smart, we’re privately going to tell you to take a flying fuck at a rolling donut, or give you the finger and tell you to sit and spin… that when your elbows hit the ground, the ride is over. That’s privately, because, you know, that’s our book, our baby, and we wrote that shit. If it’s a low-rated critical review, we’ll be nicer in our personal and private flaming, and then sit down to consider what you wrote. We probably won’t share it on social media, unless we trying to point out what a dick/twat you happen to be for writing a bad review. For the record, that’s an author faux paus, and should never be done.
As a side note, I (and most other authors) prefer critical reviews… whether they’re high or low rated. I want to know what readers thought, specifically, every time. I may not agree with you, but I damn sure respect your opinion on the matter. For example, here’s a 4-star critical review of They Are Among Us and a here’s a two-star critical review of Necromancer.
Both of these are phenomenal reviews, but more than that, it’s proof that people are reading my work and making informed judgements on it. That’s awesome, what’s what keeps me going. Not whether my book is rated 4.77 stars on Goodreads or 3.87 on Amazon or 2.31 on LibraryThing. Just that you’re reading what I’m writing.
And the only way I really know that is if you leave me a review. You can tell me you read it, but unless I sit down and quiz your ass, I’m not going to know for sure. But if you leave that review (good or bad) with details, well, then I do know. And that I appreciate, and it gives me balls to keep writing more, to cast my Patronus spell, use the confidence you’re giving me to buffer any self doubts, kill those soul-sucking dementors called fear and loathing, and ultimately protect my dying godfather, Chris’s fiction.
That’s why you leave reviews, more than anything else. Sure, it raises awareness of our work and may (but probably not) lead to more sales, more exposure, but most of us aren’t in this to get rich. We’re in it for the love of story, to share our hidden truths about the world with you. And that’s why you’re here, too, Brownies, isn’t it? Because you love to read, you love to be transported into other realms, whether they’re horrific or fantastic. And to do that, you need writers, and we need your reviews.
So, please, if you’ve read a book, review it. On your website, Amazon, Goodreads, perhaps LibraryThing, or some other book reading site. Just do it. We all benefit when you do.
Tune in next week as I talk about the importance of being earnest…
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