The Lightbulb

Did you know that reviews have the power to make or break someone’s career? As a reader it is your right to give your honest opinion about how you felt about the book. But let me ask you this…

If the entire world had access to criticize your work blindly without ever meeting you, knowing you or caring about your feelings how would that make you feel?

Reviews are crucial to all authors and most especially indie authors because it’s their greatest form of marketing. With that being said, I’m not trying to dissuade you from being honest with your thoughts, I am however asking you to think about what you are saying.

Are you giving constructive criticism or just spewing vile from your lips because you can?
Are you highlighting the good with the bad or just focusing in on the bad because you want too?
Are you explaining how the writer could’ve done better or just telling them there’s no hope?
Are you taking into account that even a crappy, poorly written book takes days, upon weeks, upon hours of time to write?

If you answered no to any of those questions then take a good look in the mirror and slap yourself. Go ahead now. Do it. It hurt didn’t it? Yeah, I’ll bet it did. Every time you write a review as a reader without taking into account the simple fact that there is a human behind those words then you aren’t getting it.

Reviewing a book should never be about ripping the author to shreds and pointing them to the exit door. It should be about sharing your personal experience with how the book resonated with you. If you can’t do this without stabbing them with the proverbially knife then don’t write a review. I am NOT saying you can’t share that the book wasn’t your taste or that the grammar was bad or that the story lacked depth what I am saying is that there is a wrong way to say this and a right way.

Good Example: This book had a lot of grammatical errors and would benefit greatly from a professional editor.

Bad Example: This author has got to be the most stupid human being on the planet. The errors were so blatantly obvious it’s a wonder they can even read, let alone write. I mean WOW. I think I lost brain cells from reading it, it was that bad.

Do you see the difference? They both said the same thing. One gives the author hope that they can do better. The other will make them hunt down the nearest rope and make a slipknot. It’s not cool. Really not cool.

With that being said, on the other hand, a really great review has the power to change an author’s perspective. I write reviews because I enjoy sharing with the world how a book made me feel. If a book happens to warrant less than 3 stars guess what… I’m not finishing it and therefore I am not reviewing it. How can I if I don’t even know how it ends?

A few months ago I wrote a book review for a wonderful author known as Killian McRae. I loved it. I fell hard for it and was in a deep sense of awe after finishing it. So much so that I’ve been trying to get everyone and their mother to read it. The best part? My review kept her writing. She was only moments away from throwing in the towel, calling it quits and effectively putting down her pen forever. This woman should’ve NEVER felt that way.

In fact, she loved my review so much that I am a part of her dedication page for her next book. Talk about an honor. I’ve never met this woman and here she is dedicating a part of her book to me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. It’s this experience that got me thinking about reviews and their power.

Some authors may take awhile to find their place, niche, steam, sweet spot etc. What if your insensitive and poorly written review ends their career? What if they give up on something they could potentially be great at because you didn’t have the decency to word your criticism properly? How would you feel if someone rated you on a 5 star scale and only had unkind things to say?

It took Thomas Edison 10,000 tries before he successfully invented the light-bulb. Don’t be a Sour Sally and kill someone on try 9,999. You never know what things might come from their 10,000th attempt.

Evidence of book dedication extravaganza.  <—->

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12 thoughts on “The Lightbulb

  1. This is fantastic, and should be required reading for everyone before they are allowed to post on Goodreads. I kind of wish I'd read it before I wrote some of my first reviews, honestly. Thanks, Melissa, and it is so cleverly and beautifully written, too, you are a super gem!

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  2. You hit the nail on the head there, MP. Yup, this is 100% true: I had literally decided the night before you posted your review to give up writing. I was even going to take my books off sale and try to pretend the whole thing had never happened, that the three years of my life spent writing that book weren't a total waste of time, as I felt they were. Your review stopped me in my tracks, smacked me (in the best way possible) across the face, and made me see that someone actually cared. And to me, that was more critical. I've had a share of poor reviews, and no doubt my writing isn't everyone's cup of Earl Grey. But sometimes silence hurts more than screams.Everyone: If you're a fan of indie authors, let them know it. Each book we sale, each tweet or review we receive, let's us know we aren't just throwing time down a deep well. Melissa's reviews are truly exceptional, but even just a review that says "loved it," "like it," or even "just really not for me" means sooooooo much to us.

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  3. Melissa I have so much respect for you as a person. You are wise beyond your years lady, seriously. This makes me proud to call you my friend! Big flipping hug to you sweet lady!

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