All authors; indie or traditional, young or old, male or female, regardless of ethnicity, background, educational level, or mental status has one single vanity in common: We all want reviews.
Don’t get me wrong, buying our books says “I like you and I’m giving you money,” and we all like that (and do not want it to go away). But a review shows us that you love us and who doesn’t want to be loved?
Of course, a negative review says “I hate you,” but we (should) have thick enough skin to ignore that. We are all readers, we all know that there are books we just despise with every ounce of our being (yep, I’m thinking of Anna Karenina at the moment, but it applies to all Tolstoy novels & short stories for me). So, a negative review really doesn’t say “I hate you.” It says “I hated this book, a lot. As a reader, it is my right.” I have never reviewed Anna Karenina outside of writing a paper about it, but if I did, I’d give it one star and it would say “She should have thrown herself under the train on page two and saved us all from this terribly long book where wheat is constantly used as some grandiose metaphor for life, death, rebirth, sex, and anything else Tolstoy could think up. Levin needs therapy, a lot of it, like he should have a platoon of shrinks just hanging around his farming manner to deal with his women issues. Even if Anna had killed herself on page two, Tolstoy might have continued the whole Levin/Kitty thing and it still would have been a terribly book with wheat used as a symbol way too often. I’m not even sure why it was titled Anna Karenina, it should have been called The Lovely Wheat. Furthermore, Anna’s road to ruin really doesn’t play that big of a role in the book until she kills herself, but unfortunately, you have to wait for the end of the book for that. I would recommend this book to any literary masochist, wheat lover, or people with extremely high and unbelievable expectations of women.”
However, most of us will agree that anything 3 stars or higher is a good review. Sadly, it’s much easier to figure out why you hate a book than why you love one. I love Good Omens, which is surprising since I’m not a huge Terry Prachett fan (I’ve read some and I can take them or leave them) and I have never liked a Neil Gaimen book, except his Sandman comics. The only thing I can say about Good Omens is that every time I read it, it cracks me up. I have that kind of sense of humor so it tickles my funny bone from beginning to end. Are the characters great? Well, Crowley and Azblah-blah (the angel, damn it!) are. Everyone else? I don’t know. I’ve never really paid attention to the other characters. Even Adam is just kind of a blip on my character radar. My best friend would tell you she loves them all, but I’m not sure if I do or not. Does it have a good plot? Yes. Angel v. Demon for the soul of the anti-christ and it turns out that neither has the ability to influence him because he has free will. Yep, that’s funny. Does it make me smile? Yep, but I can’t think of a single “one-liner” that does it for me, except maybe naming the hell hound “Dog.” Have I read it more than once? You can bet your boots (or socks, your choice) that I have… I have it in hardback, paperback, and I used to own it on audiobook.
I just finished The Scarlet Gospels. I loved it! I have no idea why I loved it… It’s Clive Barker and I love most of his work, but I can’t tell you why. I was actually shocked when I saw that Mister B Gone had such terrible reviews. I loved that book too, but I didn’t give it a 5 star review because I had to write about why I loved it. It was hilarious, very tongue in cheek. Unfortunately, that’s not long enough for a review or expressive enough. People want to know why you loved a book (or hated it).
But a good review is the best way to show an author you love them (along with throwing money at them, I won’t lie, we like money too).
So, your homework for today: figure out why you love a particular book** and write a review for it. I will do the same and share it tomorrow.
**It doesn’t have to be mine. If you love Anna Karenina, go review it.