WHY REVIEWS MATTER
Posted on July 22, 2013
Writing is a very insular process. You work by yourself on a book for long periods. Often, you don't show off your creation to anyone until it's done. Maybe a few beta readers. You have to live with it through a lengthy gestation process. Then you send it out to the world and hope for the best.
I am positive reviews for a book are important to readers, helping them find books to their liking. I am fairly certain a large number of reviews puts more eyes on the book as well. But this post isn't about what reviews do for readers. I want to share how reviews make a difference for the writer, even when one only has a handful.
I've been actively publishing for two years now, having 2-4 books available in the first year and 12 available by the end of the second year. I have focused on getting my projects out and less on the marketing. The big reason is I am introverted and the task of touting myself and drawing attention to my work is draining and difficult. I would much rather take the easy way out and write, write, write.
But slowly I've reached out to reviewers, finding I can usually get a couple to try my work. Reviews from these active book bloggers have been very kind and thoughtful, but one in particular really made my day.
I saw a posted review by Dianne of the Tome Tender blog on a MG book similar to mine and decided to ask her to review Ned Firebreak.
She graciously took me up on it and wrote a review that conveyed she totally got what I was talking about. Here's a snippet below:
"How do I describe Ned Firebreak by Brian Clopper? Quirky? Exciting? Fantastical? Sometimes Silly? Sometimes Funny? Creative? Sometimes Scary? Sometimes Informative? Always Enchanting? Always Fun? Witty as Heck? Nope, not enough on their own, Ned's tale is ALL of the aforementioned descriptives!
What can I say about Brian Clopper? (See descriptives above.) What a gift this author has! I laughed, I loved the characters, I loved the story, I was definitely under its spell! Brian Clopper managed to straddle a fine line with his characters, the princesses were not totally helpless, Ned wasn't an uber hero, evil was evil and good was good, evil could even be swayed to be good, the characters often worked together, shared ideas and accepted each other's differences with ease. (A hidden lesson on "playing nice?") The author wasn't afraid to use "big" words, then give several other words that fit the bill. (Language Arts?) Through it all, Ned Firebreak is larger than life, with such a diverse cast of characters, from a brave, but sweet fairy princess to princess sisters who cannot go far from each other, to a rather nasty princess who charms the boys to do her bidding. ( Gee, they sound like girls I knew in school) You're going to love Sir Franklin, Fairbanks with his "pun" magic and Mink, the magical talking sword with the sharp tongue."
I followed this up with a thank you and the offer to read other books. She took me up on this and soon I found her devouring all twelve of my books in the course of two months. Each time, she'd post a thoughtful review.
I appreciated the commonalities she drew among the books, recognizing that no matter what age I write for, my books contain snark, complexity, and memorable characters. She also pointed out how much fun my chapter titles are, an aspect of the book I really work over. It felt amazing to know someone wanted to spend so much time in my creative realm.
Here's part of what she said about Flame and Fortune:
"I think my "inner child" calls to me every time I see a book by author Brian Clopper! I know it will be written with humor, snark and filled with slick word-play and over-the-top adventures, all at break-neck speed! There is a magical quality to each of his books that I find addictive and charming for ALL ages! For younger readers, Mr. Clopper challenges their vocabulary, for adults, oh heck, I admit it, I MAY have learned a few new words, myself!"
And also Monsters in Boxers:
"Wild, crazy and over-the-top fun, fantasy and adventure! Monsters in Boxers is everything a fun read for kids should be! There's "kid" humor, heroic monsters, evil monsters who are less scary than bumbling. For younger readers, I think the "nightmare" factor has pretty much been eliminated by author Brian Clopper's clever writing. We meet a group of kids who have their own secret club, complete with a clubhouse, The Garage of Doom, deviously disguised as an ordinary garage with mismatched yard furniture and a donated mini-fridge filled with "the sacred beverage." The kids receive a mysterious email, followed by an even MORE mysterious package that contains boxers, as in underwear! These are NOT ordinary boxers, they turn the wearer into magical monsters whose abilities seem to match each child's personality perfectly! Their mission? Save the world from the monsters that are unleashed in the Chaos Storm! Can these kids rise to the occasion and take on the forces of evil? Will they win?"
She presented her thoughts on the other nine books with just as much enthusiasm and attention. I was on Cloud 9 over receiving twelve five-star reviews from a serious book blogger who reads and reviews a metric ton of books every year.
Now what this did for me more than the one-off reviews I had gotten from other bloggers was prove to me there are readers out there that will try all my books if they gobble up one or two to start.
While I continue to write like crazy, I am starting to work harder at the promotion end of the job. I want more eyes on my books. The time Dianne took to read all of them and send correspondence to me helped me push forward with my writing during a time where sales were dying down.
I want to see more reviews of my work dotting the Internet atmosphere.
With that in mind, I would love to offer a free review mobi file to any book blogger who would like to try one of my novels. Graham is about to get a third book in his series and would like to see some attention on him. To that end, I will send out book one and book two for review. If another novel is more to your taste, please tell me. Include your website where you post reviews when you contact me, and I will send off the book of your choice.