Whether you believe it or not, an author works hard for the little bit of money that they get. That novel, you just finished reading could have taken years to get into your hands. From first draft (which could take as long as months), through various self-edits, beta reads, and more edits before an editor even sees it, to the formatting, copy edits and final proofs before it is published, it’s a payless endeavor for many authors. At least until a few sales come rolling in.
Only a few authors are lucky enough to be able to write full time. Most have to figure out a balance between a day job, family, social life, and these stories that keep creeping under their skull. Not only that, authors have to be the main force in promoting their work by attending conventions, sitting on panels, and keeping an online presence updated. If you add up all of those hours, that $10 you spend on a trade paperback only covers a minute portion of the effort involved.
So sure, you’ve paid for a product (we hope). An author might will get a portion of that money for your purchase, but they’d also like something else for all of that work they do to create something you enjoy. Something that costs you nothing, except a little bit of time.
A review is just a little note to say whether you liked something or not. Sometimes it includes a summary, which is a review of what happens. Some reviewers go into a lot of detail on why they liked–or disliked– a book. There are even some that well, maybe go a little too far (such as reveal the ending or a plot twist.) No matter how detailed, a review is really important to a writer.
Imagine you are standing at an office building and your job is to open the door for all of the customers who want inside. You open the door hundreds of times a day, but most people ignore you. On a good day, a few people smile and even fewer say thank you. This is the reality of being an author. The reviews are those smiles and little thank you’s. The people passing through the doors without acknowledging your presence are all of the people who have bought or read your book, but not left a review.
Kind of a bleak thought hunh?
Reviews aren’t just a thank you, though. It also helps an author’s sales. You see, many book outlets have complex algorithms that help the site suggest books to customers. Algorithms are complex calculations that predict probability. Book sites take the information of what you’ve purchased and reviewed and compare that to what other people purchase and review. They also take into account how many reviews a book has. The more reviews and purchases, the more likely it is to show up as a suggestion on someone eles’ list. Besides legally purchasing an author’s books, a review is one of the best ways to show your support.
So how do you review a book?
A review doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, a simple “I liked/disliked it.” is sufficient. You can go into more detail such as why you liked the main characters or how the plot twist caught you unexpectedly. You can even compare the novel you just read to other books in the series or even with books from other authors. Just be sure if you are going to drop a spoiler, warn other readers before hand or use the features that some places have to hide it.
And to spread the love, go to other sites and post your review on there. Or post the review on your blog or even your social media pages.
Reviews are a great way to show authors that you love their stories. They help attract more readers and encourage more sales. They are simple and only take a few moments.
Encourage a writer. Give them a thank you with a review.
There is a great disturbance in the farce.
Today I sat down with Jeff Strand, author of DWELLER, the WOLF HUNT books, THE GREATEST ZOMBIE MOVIE EVER, and many other gleefully macabre books. His exhaustive, exhausting, depressingly funny biography is too good to summarize, so you can find it at his website. His newest novel, BLISTER, comes out pretty much right now, so you should totally check it out.
PATRICK: Hi Jeff! Thanks for stopping by.
The main character in your new book, BLISTER, is a cartoonist, while you’re known as “the funniest man in the gore business.” Where do comedy and horror intersect?
JEFF: Comedy and horror intersect all over the place. It could be nervous laughter because of the high tension level, or it could be a great big guffaw because something is so over-the-top disgusting. Even within my own work, I’ve got books that are comedies with a horror premise, and books that are horror novels with a lot of humor, and books that give both aspects equal attention. There’s an infinite number of ways to blend the two genres.
Yup. This sucks.
College, sophomore year, driving to my future ex-wife’s parents’ house in a rusted-out Ford Escort, she-who-shall-not-be-named in the seat beside me. Not quite rush hour but close enough, headed north on a six-lane expressway at sixty-ish miles an hour toward the promise of eternally bickering siblings, expensive three-inch steaks cooked to shoe leather and served with ketchup, and the unspoken but ever-present disapproval of her parents.
Up ahead, brake lights. In all three lanes.
In moments cars packed the road, as far as the eye could see both in front of and behind us. We couldn’t see anything to explain the delay; it took ten minutes for news of what had happened to hit the radio. A tractor-trailer had jackknifed and tipped over, spilling its contents across every lane and both shoulders. I found out at the time but no longer remember what it had been carrying; kitty litter, coffee makers, children’s souls in Estee Lauder bottles. Something that created a terrific mess and, more importantly for our dinner date with the outlaws, brought traffic to a standstill.
I’m a horror writer, sure. I write some creepy shit. I can’t help myself. That’s what I like and that’s what comes out of me when I write. Nightmare vomit. But I also have a deep fascination with the fantastic, with otherworldly things. I love the uncanny. And the strange. And since I now have published the first two books in The Godgame series, set almost entirely in the fictional world of Meridian, it looks as if I’ve finally crossed over into the realm of fantasy. Dark fantasy. But what the hell is that?
Well, to give you an idea, here’s a list of dark fantasy novels that have inspired me. Some of them, like Clive Barker’s work, a lot of people would call horror, but don’t be fooled. Clive Barker is really a fantasy author.
You could also call several of these titles “literary fantasy” or “literary horror,” but what the hell is genre anyway?
In this week’s edition of All Books Are Terrible, we take a look at the (best) one-star reviews written for J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and learn that wizards and magic are big dumb poopypants.
01. The Adventures of Henry Potter, by Some Dude Named J.K. Rowling
02. Much Magic, Mate
03. She Won’t Last
04. God Bless
05. Bag Guys Who KILL!!!
06. And All That Junk…
07. So. Much. JUNK.
08. Liar, Liar, Narnia on Fire
09. Millions and Millions of Letters?!?
11. Wendy Speaks Her Mind
Joe Hill is on fire. I’ve been a fan since his debut collection, 20th Century Ghosts, and after eagerly anticipating his latest, I was thrilled to get an advance review copy from the publisher. I’ve enjoyed all of his previous novels and felt that each one raised the bar. That trend continues with The Fireman. In his fourth novel, Hill continues to push himself, and while you will find echoes of his favorite themes, this is not a writer content to rest on his laurels and repeat previous tricks.