I started reviewing books on a whim. Books were an integral part life in our home. Both my mother and grandmother were avid readers. I read anything I could get my hands on and then would sit with them to discuss the book. My mother was my reading partner until she passed. After she had died, I found a certain loneliness in reading as I had no one to discuss the books. It was more of a personal experience. It never occurred to me to join a book club or even read reviews online.
I never noticed the reviews on Amazon when I bought a book. Book purchases were based on subject or genre. It wasn’t until I looked on Amazon to see the reaction of readers to my own books that I realized the value of a review.
The impact of reading other people’s reviews crystalized – they were a valuable tool in helping a consumer decide whether a book would interest them.
After a trip through my personal library, I tried to pick books I felt comfortable to review. There were so many old friends that kept me company or made the world’s worries disappear for the few hours. It was hard to pick which ones I wanted to share.
At first, I wondered if anyone would read what I had to say. Once that first review was posted, I noticed my rankings were somewhere in the millions. I realized my reviews would not have much impact. I posted as much as I could. They began to add up, as did the helpful votes.
I began reading other prolific reviewers, learning what worked and garnered the most helpful hits.
Some people enjoy trashing a book, pointing out all the things they didn’t enjoy. Liking a book is subjective, it is rooted in personal taste and preferences.
When reviewers write things like ‘this book was horrible- don’t buy it,’ it sounds judgmental. Just because one person may not like a book, doesn’t mean another might enjoy it.
A lot has to do with genre, style, and the mood the person is in at the time.
I have shifted genres throughout the years, loving it at one point and disliking it intensely the next year.
The lowest score I will give a book is three stars, and if it can’t make even that grade, for me, I simply won’t review it. I wouldn’t want to be the cause that influences a buyer not to try it.
The result of these efforts has been astonishing. I have become a Top Reviewer on many of Amazon’s of the sites. The reviews have gained momentum, resulting in steady spots in two magazines featuring my reviews.
Publishers have written asking for reviews before books are published.
More importantly than that, reading books written by indies has helped the careers of people with slim budgets who can’t afford to advertise.
Reading and reviewing indies is like lending a helping hand to struggling writers who are trying to bring their work to the public, without much help or support.
There are some delightful books out there, many of them would be lost in the sea of all the other books being published.
They have trouble promoting and marketing their books. Partnering with my social media consultant, Julie Gerber, we decided to write about our experiences as authors. Navigating Indieworld has yielded a new blog radio show with the same name, as well as a new magazine called Indie Author’s Monthly.
Reviewing is fun. I think of writing reviews as practice. If you can please an audience with these small blurbs and develop a following, can a best-selling book be far behind?
Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of the Captain No Beard series. Both Captain No Beard-An Imaginary Tale of a Pirate’s Life and Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis have received the Kirkus Star of Exceptional Merit. The first book in the series was named to Kirkus Reviews Best 2012. Captain No Beard and the Aurora Borealis has been named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2015. Each book in the series has won numerous awards including the NABE Pinnacle Award, IAN Award, Moonbeam Award 2014, National Indie Excellence Award Finalist, Shelf Media Outstanding Series Award, ForeWord Review Five Star and Finalist in the Book of the Year, and Reader’s Views Children’s Book of the Year 2013. Roman is also the author of the award-winning non-fiction culture series If You Were Me and Lived in… that explores customs and cultures around the world. She has co-authored a self-help book, Navigating Indieworld A Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing. Carole is now circling the media stage as she has taken off with two radio shows on PodFire Radio (Let’s Say Hello To Our Neighbors and Navigating Indieworld) and is starting a new magazine called Indie Author’s Monthly on Magzter.com. She lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children and grandchildren.