Reviews Matter

By: Sara Cleveland

This is kind of a heavy blog entry. Before I get into it, I’m not looking for pity. If anything, I’d just like people to read this and think about the creative people in their life who may at times feel like no one sees their work. Okay, so with that disclaimer out of the way, here goes…

One of the hardest things about writing to self-publish, as far as I can tell, doesn’t actually have anything to do with writing, per se. It’s more about the parts that come after you hit “Publish.” It’s what comes after marketing campaigns that seem to get you… nowhere.

I didn’t really expect much when I published Saving the Dragon. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t much. And yet… it was more. I thought I’d get more reviews. Double digits, at least. Which I have on Goodreads and I’ve very grateful for that, but Amazon has sat at eight for years. Other platforms have no reviews despite some sales. The audio has had zero despite the promo codes I’ve given out. And that makes me feel awful because I feel like I haven’t just let myself down with my marketing, but the narrator as well.

Saving the Dragon isn’t an earth-shattering, amazing, life-altering book. But it’s fun. It’s light. A small bit of escapism in a world that sucks right now. And I thought more people would enjoy it. Granted, I haven’t really made any effort to market it recently, aside from the occasional interaction on Twitter. But the truth is that it doesn’t feel worth the effort. I don’t expect to recoup the money I’ve spent on FB ads and the like in the past. Yet, I had hoped for more of a pay-off.

Today was an amazing writing day for me. I wrote a complete flash fiction story. I started on a short story for an event next month. I got some revision done on a project that I’m keeping under wraps for now. And yet— I feel worthless as a writer. Because it feels like no one is reading my work, and no one will because it’s fallen so far down in the search results. And no matter how much I beg and plead with people who actually care about me that have read it I can’t even get them to write a review and help me improve visibility.

Feelings aside, reviews drive algorithms and recommendations. If you liked a book and don’t review it, you aren’t helping other people find it. You aren’t helping that author grow their audience.

So, the next time Amazon sends you an email and asks you to rate that book you read last week… Please. The time it takes you to write a sentence and click a star rating could totally turn some author’s day around.