Do readers owe authors a book review?
Over the years, I’ve seen that readers and writers are divided when it comes to the answer to this question. Some answer Yes, some say No. A lot of people think they know what most writers feel about this — the fact that I’m writing this post and asking this question is enough for some to decide what they think I believe.
As I always say, don’t assume you know my answer simply because I’ve asked the question. Well, at least not without reading my thoughts.
Before we get to my answer, though, let’s consider the opinion of someone from outside the industry, someone that has nothing to do with reading or writing fiction: The Husband.
He thinks readers don’t owe authors a book review.
We stumbled onto this topic a few years ago, after I published the final two books in my Poison Blood Series on Halloween 2016. He kept asking me every day about how they were selling, how many free copies of Book 1 were being downloaded, and how many reviews were getting posted.
Poison Blood, Book 1 was first published in 2012, through Smashwords, and has since been free at all retailers apart from Amazon. It was only in October 2016 however, that it became free for Kindle customers. And Book 1 made it into the top 20 of its category at the Kindle Store pretty quickly once it became free! When the concluding instalments were out, Kindle readers were buying them and my husband congratulated me daily on the number of sales.
But I would sigh and say that, yes readers were enjoying Book 1 enough to spend their hard earned cash on the last two books in the series, but no one was reviewing the series starter on Amazon. Free downloads and paid sales were even better at the Apple Books Store and there were ratings and reviews for Book 1 there from previous years, but on Amazon… nothing.
Then one day, my husband told me to not get downhearted about it. “You know readers are downloading your free book, enjoying it, and then paying for the others,” he reminded me. “So, who cares about reviews?” That led me to reiterate how reviews play an important part in a book’s success and visibility, and if I had a good number of reviews, the free downloads…