You find a novel that looks interesting so you click on the Amazon page for more details. It only has one review and you—being the suspicious individual you are—may think that it was planted or somehow illegitimate. Perhaps it has no reviews at all. “Eh, I don’t think I’ll give it the time of day,” you think and navigate to a more guaranteed source of entertainment.
Even worse than the above scenario, perhaps you did take the time to read an indie work. Maybe you enjoyed it moderately, maybe you absolutely loved it. But when you turned to the last page (or rather clicked to it if you’re using a Kindle) and read the last word, you simply didn’t leave a few words on Amazon. It wasn’t necessarily a conscious effort on your part not to… you just didn’t.
When you did that, somewhere out there, that indie writers dreams crumbled a bit more.
Okay, okay. Maybe that’s melodramatic, but I stick to the concept; indie writers* need reviews. Stephanie Meyer, Stephen King, and John Grisham do not need reviews (in my humble opinion) because they are essentially unaffected by whatever you decide to write about their work. They’ll keep doing whatever they want regardless of the most well written 1 star review they ever received.
So, let’s get down to it. Here are my favorite reasons for why you need to review indie novels
-The author cares, and if they don’t they damn well should.
When you take the time to write a review for an indie novel you’re reaching out to that individual. You are validating the hundreds of hours, the thought, and the effort they put into getting their work out there. A review shows them that you cared enough to do something about it, and if they’re serious about their work they’ll be grateful you did.
-You’re helping someone become a better writer.
If you write even a relatively thoughtful review you could be impacting their future work. If you give constructive feedback on the novel you’re reviewing, you might even be helping make that better. Feedback is invaluable. An author needs to know what is and is not working so they can write more effectively.**
-You could make a friend!
That sounds silly, doesn’t it? This reason isn’t applicable to everyone, but it’s still valid. If you yourself are a writer, artist, designer, marketer, editor—anything that is relevant to the industry—the connection you might make with an indie author could flourish into something beneficial eventually. A symbiotic relationship could develop. You strengthen ties within the indie community.
-It helps put moola into their pockets.
Let’s be frank; at the end of the day authors still need to make some money to survive and keep on writing. People are more likely to purchase a book if they see other people have been buying it. If the book has higher reviews*** it vouches for the quality of the novel. If you read a truly spectacular work and say so in your review, it helps motivate other people to give it a chance, too.
There you have it. The four reasons that have been rolling around in my head on why you should take the time to review an indie book—or books by less well known authors. Be constructive in your review whether it is positive or negative, and consider what your review will mean for the author in the long run!
*All writers need reviews, but I honestly think indie writers benefit the most from them. They have the ability to change their work dynamically and implement feedback easier than those who are published.
**If the author doesn’t listen to their reviewers’ feedback, they should reevaluate their attitude. If people keep saying a novel has extremely weak characters, or plot flaws—there is probably truth to it. If twenty people point out that another read through of the book could eliminate most of the spelling errors, the author should clearly do that.
***I’m not telling you to rate indie work high just for the hell of it because they are indie. The idea of this post is to encourage you to write reviews in the first place.