I recently read post by fellow blogger Andrew Leon, Encouragement Does not Equal Support. He is talking about providing encouragement/ support to Indie authors:
“Encouragement is nothing more than patting someone on the back and saying “good luck.” It really doesn’t take anything to do. There’s no real effort involved. Now, don’t get me wrong; encouragement can be nice: It feels good, but, really, it’s completely insubstantial. It doesn’t do anything real.
Support requires an effort. To put it in another context, support is more than just wishing fellow authors “best of luck” with their releases. Support is more than just cover reveals and blog hops. Support is more than just adding someone’s book to your “to read” list on Goodreads….Actual support is buying the books of your author friends…..Actual support is reading the books that you’ve picked up from your friends…Actual support is, after having read someone’s indie release, leaving a review. A real review.”
I agree with the post, and I think if you’re a reader or a writer (a majority of this blog’s audience) you ought to go read it.
I try, whenever I can, to feature authors on my blog, interview them, and of course, do cover reveals and such. But as Andrew rightly points out, this is hardly enough.
I do buy books by fellow authors, read them too.
I share their books on social media and feature both the authors and their books on my blogs. But I’ve stopped short of doing a review. I’m terrified of reviewing author friends– I could write a balanced review and probably not offend any of my excellent blog friends. But then, I could. So I do everything I possibly can, other than write a review. I know some of them left me a review on the ebook I published in 2011, and I sometimes feel guilty for not leaving a review in return. I do whatever else I can, by sharing them on social media and buying/ gifting their books.
I don’t know whether I fall short of support, but to me, blogging and my online life is a pleasure, and I wouldn’t want to do anything that jeopardizes my online friendships. I’ve read other authors who agree with my POV. For the foreseeable future, this will be my (guilt-ridden, but firm) stance. Let me know yours in the comments– as always your comments teach me new perspectives, and I look forward to learning from you.
As part of my pledge in my A to Z Reflections post, I’ll feature three bloggers on each post, Bloggers I Recommend Visiting:
Anna Tan: A dear Malaysian blog friend, and editor of the bestselling Love in Penang. Check out her post promoting another fellow author, the excellent Mimi Barbour.
Jemima Pett: A cherished blog-friend, and author of Bravo Victor, and many other excellent books. Check out her post with her giveaway, and supporting other authors.
Lisa Buie-Collard: A consistent blogger, amazing blog-friend, and charming author. Check out her post on Why Indie Authors Need Editors.
(If you visit these bloggers and leave a comment, I’ll automatically include you in a list of bloggers slated for this feature, or for your posts to be linked, tweeted, promoted on my social media profiles.)
Do you read books by Indie Authors? An Indie author yourself? What is your view of Indie authors reviewing other Indie authors? Do you agree with the article above on ways to Encourage and Support authors? As a reader, how much attention do you pay to a reader review?
I use Smashwords and I have tried Wattpad. I’m leaving Wattpad because nearly everthing I’ve looked at is unreadable. I’ve offered help but most of the time they only want the pat on the head. If I think someone has good ideas, imagination, creative writing, but still doesn’t edit I’ll tell them that. Mostly they accept the truth of it. If a piece is a mess I walk away. On the other hand if someone is charging on Smashwords and their book is a mess I put a warning in the comments so others will know before they choose it. Causes outbursts sometimes, but people need to know. If a piece is free then so be it. Mind you, I’ve found some fabulous stuff that is up for free, perfectly readable, imaginative, edited. Then I put up all the praise I can think of. ps, I’m not a writer at all.
Have you maybe tried writing a review but sending it to your friends first so they can decide if they want it out there?
Reviews are tough to write – for some reason I find Beta Reading critiques easy but reviews so hard to do. I tend to only write reviews if they’re good and not reviewing when it’s bad – I keep thinking how awful it must be to get drop kicked in the heart with a 1 star review (whether I know the writer or not)
Quite an interesting post. I’m an indie author and I wouldn’t be adverse to either encouragement or support. Sure, I’d be crazy not to say I wouldn’t mind people buying, or even reviewing my books, but I’d love to get the odd “you can do it” too. Something I haven’t got from my own family since my father died when I was 16. Not that anyone except my father ever gave any kind of support. So yes, I’m definitely for both.
As to being an indie author, I’m just a tadpole in a pond full of frogs. There are so many of us, that it’s hard to get your voice heard. Okay, so I’m not much of a shouter. For me, the hardest part is to say “look at me, I’m over here!”, but it is also equally hard to compete with indie’s who have already made a name for themselves. But I’ll keep at it, and if anyone wants to drop by and offer a few words of encouragement, I loved to meet you.
You know, there are remarkable things that just a little slip of positivity can do. As an educator, it is often paramount that I step forward and tell my students that they’re doing well, because, if they believe that they are, the y most often will be. It all runs back to that line of “if you here it enough, you’ll start to believe it, and then it becomes true.” Jane Elliot did a study with her children and told them that the color of their eyes influenced how intelligent and capable they actually were. When the kids believed they were better, they actually achieved higher scores, better results, and more confidence as a whole. Positive reinforcement is necessary, regardless. “There is no greater power than the human soul set aflame.” says Ferdinand Fotch. And there is no greater match than the spark of a smile.
I’m not a published writer of any sort yet, though that is my goal. I actually am currently reading a story from a friend, more for feedback, but definitely find it an interesting read. As I now start blogging and getting to know other writers, showing support through reviews, posts, announcements, and buying, is something I would like to do. I think all writers should think about this. Good post!
Writers and bloggers are a very supportive community– welcome to my blog and hope to chat with you often!
Most definitely–thank you Damyanti!
Definitely food for thought. I always joke that I had to get rid of my feelings when I got married, but in lieu of feelings being caught up in the equation I certainly can sympathize with your stance.
A couple of months ago, I was in a fiction writing workshop and I had a piece that I was working on ravaged by one of my peers. Instead of being offended, I found it quite useful.
Thanks for putting this out into the world÷
I guess, the difference between being ripped apart by a peer group and in front of the public (all potential readers) is huge. Rare is the writer who can take public criticism. I like being critiqued, and find it useful, but I would be lying if I say it leaves me completely untouched emotionally. I’ve just learned to distance the emotion, and take waht is useful– and above all, appreciate the time of the person who has read and given feedback.
While doing a public review of a person I know online, I can’t be sure they have learned the above trick, nor do I want to hurt their sales, even in a minuscule way. I guess I need to grow up a bit, but until such time as I do, I have to stick by my stand of not reviewing anyone I know.
You definitely make a great point. Admittedly, I was kind of pissed (still am) at his/her 2 cents, ironically they didn’t have the decency to own up to their comments. We are what we write and it is only natural for us to want our feelings considered.
That is a good policy. We can’t disconnect our feelings from our work that’s for sure!
The problem here is that a book review is not the same as a workshop critique. But authors seem to think it is – regardless of whether they are giving or receiving. Here’s the thing: A review on Amazon is GUIDANCE TO BUYERS. It’s not about the author, but does help to draw attention to the book and is free promotion – a true gift, in that, and I’d argue that promotion is promotion, so not all reviews have to be 5-star reviews to help sales. I’d hope they were HONEST, THOUGHTFUL reviews that reflected thoughts on reading the work in question – not just a few hastily penned lines after riffling through “Surprise me!” on Amazon.com.
BUT – it is not the time for “constructive criticism” from one author to another. The book is published. It’s done. This is the difference between telling a woman who is trying on a dress in the shop, “That dress does nothing for you. It makes you look frumpy and the color only makes you look sickly. That green one, over there, brings out the color in your eyes and has a much more flattering cut…” vs telling her the same thing when she’s wearing the awful dress at a party, just before she goes on stage to receive a professional award. The first is helpful, because she can do something about it (buy a different outfit); the second serves only to erode her confidence and make her wish she could take it all back and not get out of bed – it taints the whole evening.
The book criticism is fine – IF it’s directed at the reader: “If you love the idea of true love at first sight, without there ever being any meaningful dialogue that might lead to a meeting of the minds, then this book will provide the sort of treacly romantic entertainment you’re looking for. It’s a great summer beach read – the kind of book you can pick up and immediately put back down the minute a gnarly wave calls your name.” 🙂 Just as snarky, but fully cognizant of the fact that it’s too late to rewrite THIS book, and leaves the author – the author’s writing and personality and future books and qualifications to write them – well out of it. It’s not exactly a glowing endorsement, but it’s not PERSONAL. And the only time typos and grammatical errors need to be mentioned in a book review is if the story cannot overcome them – but rather than assume they are the author’s fault, you could say, “poorly edited, rife with mechanical speedbumps, but perhaps that kept me from tearing through the story so fast that I missed all the subtleties of character development.”
Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I’m both a supporter and an encourager. I also commented on all three posts. I even entered a giveaway. 😉 Nicely promoted. I could use a friend like you to help me with one of these someday… especially after my book of short stories is released!
The latter will happen soon, I think. I’m inches away from publication!
Thanks for the support Lorraine, and if you need anything tweeted, blogged, promoted, just let me know.
Great post; one that hits home.
I struggle with it, myself – leaving reviews, that is. On the other hand, reviews are essential to getting noticed and to helping buyers decide whether the book might be worth buying and reading, or giving as a gift. Reviews do not have to be 5-star or nothing. (1-star reviews are much more buyer-friendly than author friendly, but you’re still doing SOMEONE a service, if it’s a fair assessment of the quality of a book in your opinion, and you’re willing to put your name to it.) Reviews, seriously, are for buyers. They’re not there to encourage or pat the author on the head. Honest, fair, and balanced are what I hope for when people review my books. And you’re more than welcome to take a crack at them… 😉
P.S. I should add that one reason I hesitate to leave reviews is that some of my fellow authors (and friends) are very sensitive and dread criticism. I know that what SOME of them want is “positive reviews only!” And I can’t PROMISE that. I prefer to buy books by friends and review books by strangers, unless I know that those friends are thick-skinned.
You summarised my feelings on the topic of reviews. I’d rather not talk about my honest feelings about a book– a writer is usually so involved in it for such a long time, that any criticism, however valid, and however tactfully put, can hurt.
To me, I know what it costs to write a book. I’d rather not do a review.
In fact, I’m considering gifting books by some indie authors I like to others, bloggers on various topics– readers mostly. Wondering how to start it off.
Late to the party, but came here via Bemuzin’s post today. http://bemuzin.com/2014/06/05/getting-closer-to-guilt-free-no/
I recently read a published work of one of my blog-mates, and a manuscript of another. Both were memoirs, and both invited me to “tell me what you think.”
The book was just OK. The MS read more like the bullet points for an annual Christmas letter.
I agonized over what to tell these women. To find flaws in the work would translate to finding flaws in their lives. As a matter of fact, when I pointed out to the second author that I longed for a meatier, more fleshed out story, she curtly replied, “I’m well aware of flaws, thank you.”
So, new policy, no more feedback from me. The relationship is more important. Besides which, I do not “do delicate” or “tiptoe” all that well.
That’s actually a good thing to point out: Reviews help the author, but they are -for- the buyer. From that standpoint, the review should always be focused toward the buyer.
That’s the whole problem, Andrew– I don’t know if I can wholeheartedly recommend some of the books I read.
Well, then, you shouldn’t recommend them. That’s all there is to it.
I hope to have that courage some day.
At present, I keep my opinions to myself.
Based on this post, and the one on my other blog where I asked for links of published books by indies, I’m planning to start buying copies of indie books and passing on those that I like to friends, and other bloggers.
As I said in a comment before, I’d love to find out how to gift an ebook.
If I buy an ebook, like it, think of someone who might like it too, how do I gift it to them?
Amazon offers a gifting option. Is that where you get your ebooks?
All you need is the email address of the recipient.
I think for some, myself included, reviewing was more of a, “I’m afraid to be too critical” issue. I’ve gotten better over the years and feel more confident in reviewing and blogging. I do support, review and recommend authors I enjoy. I see how important it has become in this social media age.
I hope to follow your example as I grow as a writer. I’m a pretty versatile, obsessive and unforgiving reader, which is why I’m terrified of expressing my opinions most of the time.
I understand your trepidation about leaving reviews. People often only see the negative comments, and there is always the risk that you might offend, or even provoke a bad reaction. For me, I would rather receive an honest but negative review, giving me the chance to use it to put right the imperfections in my writing. So long as a review is constructive, I will always respect the reviewer and their opinion.
My own guilt is over the fact that I don’t generally buy books from fellow bloggers. The reason – I don’t have time to read these days!
A thousand apologies!
I buy books, loads of them. I haven’t read them all, either. I always have more books to read, and I still can’t stop buying. I’m considering buying books by indie authors and giving them away to friends who might enjoy it.
Trying to figure out how to gift ebooks.
Thanks for the feature. 🙂
You’ve always been such a giver and encourager that I don’t think anyone minds if you don’t write a review.
I don’t always write reviews, but when I have the time and inclination, I would prefer to write a review for a self-published book than one that’s traditionally published, solely because the self-published or indie writer relies much more on word of mouth.
Also because when I pick up a book from an author I’ve never heard of, besides whether the blurb attracts me, I also tend to do a quick scan of the prominent reviews and the overall rating. So I guess it helps one way or another.
Anna you’re one of my friends who reviewed my book, and review so many others on a regular basis. I’m loving Love in Penang– and want to gift it out to friends. Is there an ebook version that I can buy and send across to folks who I think might enjoy it? I’m wondering how one gifts ebooks…
I purchase books, write reviews, and promote indie published authors on all my social media sites. I’ve also been a beta reader before an indie author was published. I think all writers provide support in their own ways. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this. It is a great topic to think about. We seem to live in a world where encouragement is expected, but since it is expected it has become rather shallow and has lost its meaning. I always hear about support networks and how they improve the results of whatever the focus of it was. But I’ve never actually experienced such a thing. Community is such an integral aspect. I think it can be easy to miss or can be taken advantage of.
I heard from an indie author that if you review their book on Amazon, it can increase traffic to their product. I found this very interesting and now I make sure I review every indie author I read there. It is the least I can do. As writers, I think they will always appreciate truth and constructive criticism. How else can one improve? Thanks again! Have a wonderful day!
Matthew, thanks for taking the time to comment. I applaud your effort in reviewing every indie author you read– I wish I grow up enough to follow your example some day. 🙂
Well I don’t know about that. I actually just learned about indie authors recently. It wasn’t until one contacted me and told me about the concept where reviews mean more presence for them when I began to think seriously about the idea. One person can only do so much but thinking that you don’t make the difference is a dangerous place to be, I think. Because if everybody thought that way then no one would do it. Everything counts. I hope you have a great day!
I think there are plenty of ways to provide real support to writing buddies. We’re all in this together. =)
I read and review books by indie and traditional authors.
I don’t think I’ve read a book that is really sub-standard… not yet, anyway…
If/when that happens, I don’t think that I’d post a review, especially if it’s a person I’m acquainted with… it’s a sensitive issue… maybe contacting the author via e-mail would be more considerate…?
Now you’ve got me thinking about this.
Michelle, you’re such an encourager and supporter– and I applaud you for being all that you are in the blogosphere.
Your post is right on and I’m so glad you addressed the review issue as one way to support an author. I do read and review other authors–Indie and Traditional. But I don’t do reviews for books that I can’t finish. I plan to post about that in the future and see what others have to say about it.
Enjoyed my visit today!
Thanks Lee, will look forward to your post!
I’ve read two books by indie authors and I’m working on a third. I do think we should support each other, by buying, reading, and reviewing each other’s work. Granted, there are only so many hours in the day, and you can’t read everything, but you can pick and choose a few.
Reviews are the hardest part. Since I’m writing for people I know, I generally write reviews that focus on what I liked and establish the story’s mood and what it gave to me. I don’t go into what I didn’t like, because I feel indie authors need all the help they can get. I may say that I expected “this” and it surprised me with “that” instead. If I truly didn’t like the book, I just won’t leave a review.
I do pay attention to reviews. I skim them for common threads and try to get a feel for what they liked about them.
“I don’t go into what I didn’t like, because I feel indie authors need all the help they can get. I may say that I expected “this” and it surprised me with “that” instead. If I truly didn’t like the book, I just won’t leave a review.”
I thought of doing it this way, but my problem is after a while it gets to me, suppressing what I really think in my writing. I don’t want to be fair to the indie author but unfair in some way to the reader. So, for right now, I’ve decided not to do reviews, even for very good friends.
I’ve wondered if I would get to the same point. That might be the best way to go.
Hello! Gosh what a thoughtful post! I think an author can only ask and it’s up to whomever to take up the offer – but there shouldn’t be any pressure on anyone’s side really! Take care
I think the things you do for other authors are great, D. If you want to conquer your fear of reviews, try reading a book that you like and writing a short review. If you read one you really don’t care for, send a private message to the author explaining that why you are not able to write a review. That way, no one’s feelings with be hurt.
That’s good advice. Maybe I should start writing Goodreads reviews of books i really like– but I haven’t seen many indie books I can Totally get behind– and I dunno if I want to write a dishonest review. I dunno whether I want to email a private crit either. I’m just a scaredy kitten, is all. 🙂
Support is anything you can do to help an author’s ‘discoverability’. So thank you for your continued support!
You don’t have to review books if you don’t want to. It’s nice if you want to. You can be different, you can do different things – there are loads of people reviewing books, some well, some not so well.
I read a lovely post on rules of reviewing the other day, and it crystalised for me the issue of reviewing author friends. It’s fine when everything is going well, but if there’s something you don’t like…. Is it a book fault or do you just wish they’d done it differently? Did it ruin the story for you and do you think it would do the same for others?
I discuss what I didn’t like with my author friends, but I just try to give unbiased reviews for other authors. But of course, what I’d like is for people to review my books, since it is such a barrier to discoverability if you haven’t got reviews!
But you can do reviews on your blog in (at least) two ways – just review the books you read, or call for books to review. The second makes it a job – the first is feedback.
Feedback doesn’t have to be long – it doesnt even need a synopsis. What did you like? What didn’t you like? Would you read more of the author’s work?… that’s a review. 🙂
Found the link to that review rules post 🙂 http://tarasparlingwrites.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/5-book-review-rules-which-could-make-writers-hate-you-less
I agree, Jemima, the ‘discoverability’ factor is what it’s all about. I’m still not sure how important Amazon and Goodreads reviews are- maybe for very high visibility books they are but I doubt it for the general run of Indie books. I think perhaps word of mouth on blogs is more effective – may not result in mass sales but your name does start to creep out there and you’re more likely to connect with people who like your sort of writing if you’re reading the same blogs. I read somewhere about blogging that you should hope to make friends one at a time, not a whole lot of friends all at once. I think that rule holds pretty well for Indie publishing too.
As an Indie writer myself I almost always buy only Indie books. And I emphasize the word ‘buy’. I will review provided I have enjoyed the book. If the book is disappointing, then I say nothing. Do reviews carry much weight with readers? I’m sure they do – but I feel they may have lost some favor due to those that fall into the ‘received a free copy in return for a review’ category. One feels that the reviewer has been obliged to be nice.
I’ve been told only to review books that I can give 4 or 5 stars to so I don’t get “payback” once I publish a book. Sheesh! Are there really authors who have time to keep a list of people who give them poor reviews?
I will happily provide an honest review of any book. If it is going to be a bad one, I might just send it to the author privately. “Do you really want me posting this 3-star review on Goodreads?”
I’m not an indie author or a traditionally published author (yet), but I will be soon. I don’t want to burn any bridges by giving a poor review, but if they say the best way to support them is to review their book, what can I do?
Unfortunately, there are some authors out there that do the “payback game.” The best thing is to try to recognize them ahead of time and just not review or engage with them. And, then, the best thing is to develop a reputation as someone who reviews honestly and gives reasons why you like something as well as why you might not like something.
It’s a lot of work.
I can see the difference he’s making, but it seems a bit like potato-potatoe (pretend you can hear the different pronunciations). Encouragement/support often includes one or the other, depending upon commitment. I like the enumeration of ways we-all can encourage-support each other in our writing. It makes a big difference.
As long as you are honest and authentic, encouraging and featuring writers/authors/artists is fine. Not over the top bubbling babble, but just a heads up about “Hey, here’s a book or author you might want to check out.” That is support, too. WIth the vast numbers of titles out there – and the difficulty in marketing budgets these day, helping an author get their book’s name out there is really a big help. Besides, you just never know who is reading and will take that hint – could result in the book falling into the perfect hands of someone to promote it.
Reviews? Tricky. Gotta be honest – but that can be hazardous. (But once again, if you like the book, who’s to tell you not to talk about it?) May be best to let reviews be done by others if it’s risky to you/your blog.
I think the loophole to it is, if you read something and feel it deserves 3/5 or lower, let the author know. If it’s an online friendship, it was probably born of the desire to grow a fanbase and support system. Authors, I think, would like to know if they’re heading in a direction their target audience can’t relate to. Maybe it means they need to pull back and maybe it means they need to reanalyze their goals. Either, inspiring self-reflection does not mean you have to post their need for that as a public review. Private can be even more powerful.
Let’s Ignore the fact I’m an author who wants support and am friends with other authors who want support. As a business model, if you publish a book but only your friends and family buy it, you haven’t found real readers. Instead of spending time in the writing community (getting encouragement), a writer needs to spend time courting book-bloggers, book clubs, forums having to do with their genre, and any other place readers might be. That’s really hard, takes time, and costs money (such as in book-promo newsletters). I tried that route and it kicked my butt. Personally, I’ll stick with the encouragement of this great community because it makes me happy and won’t whine that no one’s buying my book. 🙂
Hi Lexacain, do you know the blogs Girl Who Reads and The Next Best Book Club Blog?
Both are very welcoming to Indie authors and will allow you to put in a guest post or an excerpt from your book. Cost nada.
I think you do positive, helpful things here, and always enjoy stopping by.
I don’t yet have a kindle (could be soon, given my growing interest), but have already purchased three books by “indie writers”, and currently have two windows open to remind me to buy two more (including your own A to Z, funnily enough).
When I read one I review it on Amazon. I’ve not yet done this for non-kindle books, or non-indie writers found on these blogs. Occasionally I mention the author on my blog, and link, and fully intend to do that when I finish the current read Dream Brother. And will again when I’ve read yours.
It’s nice to believe everyone cares as much as your good self, but even during my short “career” as an eBook author I’ve discovered that there is a MAHOOSIVE difference between someone saying WELL DONE or I WILL HAVE TO LOOK YOU UP and actually buying something, even from long-term friends. That said, there should be no pressure from anyone I’ve read or reviewed to return the favour. I would always prefer someone find, read and WANT to buy something I’ve written rather than feel guilted into it.
Another interesting post. Thanks.
Hey 🙂 I agree with the comments made in the post you featured by Andy Leon. Real support is essential for all authors starting out and trying to get noticed. On the subject of reviews, as I commented in a recent post on my blog, The Importance of A Review ( http://daveynorthcottauthorwriter.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/the-importance-of-a-review/ ) , which focuses more on Amazon reviews (or smashwords or wherever one’s book happens to be on sale) , I don’t think that anyone should worry about offending people when leaving reviews. Any review is good pro.mo. and as long as it is an honest opinion, that’s what counts. Of course there will be some people who enjoy one thing and others that hate the same, but that is the nature of great literature; it creates argument and opposing feelings.
True, putting reviews up on a blog is a different thing and could be more sensitive (potentially fatal sometimes, I’d imagine :S ), but leaving a quick few words on the selling page after a read, be it constructive criticism, pure praise or a downright rinsing is always welcome.
Great post, by the way. Hope you’re recovering well from the challenge! 🙂
You make a really good point here – it’s so important that we actually take the time to read our fellow indie authors’ books, rather than just help promote them.
I’ve felt a little let down at times when I’ve taken the time to read other indie authors’ books and then review them on Amazon, but they haven’t bothered to do the same for me. Maybe I’m being a bit jaded, but that’s how I feel.
I try to support indie authors, being one myself I know how important that is. I review indie books only on my blog, and always leave reviews of indie books I’ve read. I also try my best to link to other indie writers when I can. The indie writing community is great 🙂
I have made an excellent twitter friend, and she and I constantly beta read each others work. And to be honest, she is quite BRUTAL when it comes to my stories at times. But I do know she is being honest and trying to help me write better stories.
I’d rather have a brutal but true review than no review at all…
I believe that passing on information about someone else’s book is actually a form of support, along with buying a copy yourself. I understand my book isn’t for everyone, but maybe they know someone who will enjoy it somewhere in their long lists of on-line acquaintances. I appreciate if they read the description and pass on the info. I also appreciate a tip here and there (as long as it isn’t in too condescending a tone). Marketing is extremely tough in the rapidly expanding market of Indie Books.
I think supporting fellow writers exists as a spectrum of action. At one end is the simple offer of encouragement, or good-luck wishes. At the other is a willingness to buy the person’s book, read it, and promote it to some reasonable degree. Whatever we do along that spectrum is constructive. I would much rather plug a new or independent writer than try to squeeze onto a well-known author’s bandwagon. As for posting reviews, I do it only when I can be honestly positive.
I guess encouragement does no harm at all but the best way indie authors can help each other out is by interacting and sharing ideas like this and sharing links to each other’s work.
Encouragement is that needed pat on the back that keeps you going. And I agree that support is taking it all the way up to leaving a review after purchase and reading. The merging of the two would be nice, then you’d have your own little band with you all along the way.
I quite agree. When I see that a fellow writer is about to release an ebook, I offer to review it on my blog. I give pragmatic feedback and even those that have been a little on the negative side have received the review really well.
As a reader I know what I do and don’t like and that in turn helps to improve my own writing.
Hi – I’m and Indie author. At 45+yr and no writing under my belt at all, my book just wrote itself. I was totally within the characters. I had no interest in publishing it until someone who read it said I should. I knew nothing about the Indie publishing world. So you could say I arrived into it a virgin. I’m a pretty brash and mentally stable person who can lift the middle finger with ease. The day a woman told me (in front of everyone in the shop) that I wrote filth, I was unable to write a word for more than three months…It forced me to have a jolly good long hard look at criticism and reviews. Recently I have found what works for me…like any author I want the stars on Goodreads or the rave reviews, so assume other authors do to. So what I do is review the book, give it the stars and write to the author separately. If the book has lots of typos and such like, I won’t review until they are fixed.
I totally agree with this article. It is, however, tough for us to give the indie author a review. We want for eyeballs and those reviews just don’t get readers. I will do them for people that are using me to help promote their books.
If I find a book I like and it has no following I will review it, but I don’t have the time to look for or to be solicited from indie authors.
I know it sounds terrible, but we has so much content to work on already and want that content to be the best possible. I do welcome guest writers and if they want to write a review of any book I do not stop them, but we do tend to push content that will get more attention.
Not trying to be evil, but we all want our blogs to get attention. I have written so many blogs that get none. It is fun, but not fulfilling to me. I like to put out great info and get eyeballs.
I do review books on my blog and i do so from a supportive stance. i will give an honest review and emphasize the positive of the book. I don’t review books I don’t like. I’m not an editor so I will not give feedback, but i have worked as a journalist for twenty years so I write from that perspective.
I have a hard time giving reviews as well. Just can’t seem to do a review on fiction, since that is what I write, but on nonfiction? I can do that. Maybe because I’m more separated from the genre?
I responded to Andrew’s post at his site. I’ve done a number of reviews and will continue to do so. The reading can be difficult for me so I don’t do as many reviews as I’d like to do.
I do pay attention to reviews and have books on the basis of reviews that I’ve read. I usually read the worst review first. I feel like I get more useful information from the bad reviews and I’ve bought a few books because of the bad reviews.
Wrote By Rote
An A to Z Co-host blog
Actually, I usually look at the bad reviews first, too.
Damyanti, buying books is a huge support, much more than most people do, so you shouldn’t feel like you’re not offering support just because you’re not doing -everything-.
Here’s my split on why blog hops and cover reveals, etc fall under encouragement and not support. Or, even, just announcing that your buddy has a book out.
All of those things say implicitly:
“My friend has a book out. You should buy it. I’m not going to buy it or talk about it in any way other than to say it exists, but -you- should buy it.”
That amounts to encouragement. Until you can say, “Hey, I just bought this book, and I think you should, too,” it’s not actual support. When you say you bought something -then- someone else might say, “Oh, well, I’ll buy that, too,” but, when you’re just announcing the existence of something, the response is more like, “Well, why should I bother with it if you’re not going to?”
I do write reviews of indie authors and post those on my blog, on goodreads, on amazon, on smashwords, wherever I hope it will do them some good. I’ve also edited and published an anthology of stories by some of my favorite indie authors (The Free Indie Reader #1, availabe for free from Smashwords and affiliates) and hope that the 1000+ downloads we’ve seen so far have done the small service of introducing these writers to some new readers. I’m not big on the current trend of everyone being an uber-critic. My approach is simply to recommend books I enjoyed.
I am an avid reader and I review the works of indie authors whenever I get the opportunity to do so by personal choice, sometimes requests. There are times I don’t feel connected to the story I read, but give a fair review, because the story itself was good.(most of the books).Other times, the words flow with ease, as I thought it was excellent and want to share it with other readers.
Encouraging other writers is part of who we are…it makes such a difference.
I disagree with Leon, partially. Encourage is not support, it’s kind words.
But, support does include blog hops, cover reveals, tweets, RT’s, and ‘Goodreads’ tbr lists. This takes effort out of a blogger/writers day. I’ve promoted writers I don’t know, if the book is good to great.
Sometimes (about once every 3 months) I’ll beta read with the understanding that I’ll give honest feedback and specifics.
If I can give a 4 or 5 rating of a book from a fellow blogger I will-IF the story warrants. If the book is a 2 or 1, I don’t, because it’s only one opinion and I don’t want to detract from others viewing the book.
I can see how it would be terrifying, I’m not sure I would be up to it either because I would be scared people would take it wrong (even though I tend to focus on the good bits of a book and ignore the bad of everything I read).
However as a writer I would love any review, however harsh. I may be upset at first if its a bad review, but I feel I would be mature enough to look at it objectively. See it as a critique not of me, but my writing. After the initial shock I would start reading it extremely carefully, figuring out where I went wrong and taking the lessons into the future.
I think that as long as you write it in a fair and balanced way (pointing out the good as well as the poor, identifying what might be based merely on your own experience/opinion) I think most mature authors would still be thankful for a review.
To me encouragement would also include an honest review by an intelligent reader, which I realise could be a vexed question: What is an intelligent reader? I had one of my books on Authonomy, and in that book, a young boy submitted his poems to a magazine and imagined the editor being a sexy Parisian woman, and I got a comment asking “How does he know she comes from Paris?” Someone else complained about there not being a graphic sex scene.
As a writer, I would love to get some reviews, also as a writer I’m nervous about getting reviews. As a reader I don’t have much faith in reviews especially after one book which shall remain nameless. It has a great premise, it has great reviews, it has more holes than a string vest.
I agree with you about not wanting to do reviews, having read of people receiving death threats, and one reviewer who was taken to court for giving a bad review.
As for support on social media, I found Facebook to be utterly worthless, despite months of sharing other people’s work, I found the only thing of mine that other people shared was their own links that I had shared, the same goes for twitter. I’ve now quit Facebook. It may be that I just don’t properly understand social media.
Of course the best support is to buy book, and that sometimes feels like a terrible slog, especially when so many indie writers knock out five or six novels a year. How good can they actually be?
As for his argument, I think he protests too much. I would love to have all the things he’s calling not enough. I’ve never been interviewed and the only lists my books are on are the ones I’ve added them too in the hope that someone will get curious. I’d also love to have the sales that people complain about.
So, after that rant, my stance is that sharing someone’s book on your various social media, and giving writers space on your blog, is plenty.
I think the problem for me is that I have very little time outside of my current commitments. If I am going to be reading a book, I want it to be a book that I am going to thoroughly enjoy. I have too little time to force myself through something that isn’t working for me. This creates a bit of conflict, because if I am going to be writing reviews they will largely be 4 or 5 star reviews because those are the books I am willing to spend the time to sit and finish.
I buy mainly from Indie authors at this point, but I am always hesitant to review anything but the classics, because I am aware that my rating scheme will make me look like I have a conflict of interest.
It is definitely a difficult problem to think about!
For me, if I love a book, I would happily give a review. If I don’t like a book or something about a book, I’m more hesitant. Writers put their heart and soul into their work, so someone slapping them for it just doesn’t sit right with me. I try to be encouraging and if I was asked to give a review, I would likely focus on what I liked about the story.
If I really didn’t like it, I’d more likely say to the author-friend, “Sorry, I really can’t review on this. It’s not my cup of tea, but I don’t want to fault it for it being not my thing.”
I never ask for a review. I never want to put that pressure on my readers.
Giving reviews should (in my opinion) be a choice made freely. I understand where you are coming from, and I think you taking this stance is excellent. It shows strength. As for your supportiveness – there’s more to it than giving reviews. For all you are doing, I think you are very supportive. You don’t need the guilt.
Giving reviews should be a choice made freely– truer words were never spoken. I rarely make that choice. I’ve been guilty of asking for reviews– but I’ve always asked for a no-holds-barred honest review– the first time it was for my ebook, and I was green, trying to figure out this whole self-publishing experiment, and I thought I needed to learn how to ask.
The second time, an anthology I was part of was being trolled on Amazon, and I organized for the publisher to send out books to my online friends– asking for them to write their honest opinion.
The first had mixed results, and the second was mostly a success– but I’m now of the opinion that I can’t really do it again, given that I myself am so scared to review authors. The folks who did the reviews, I continue to share their work on social media etc, offer them guest posts, but I’m too scared of offending them to attempt a review of their books.
I respect that and I believe a lot of people will. You have to follow your heart on these things.
I understand where you’re coming from. The last thing you want is to give a review that may hurt a friend’s feelings. At the same time, however, the last thing I would want to do is hinder a friend because I held back honesty.
Sometimes I find out about books that I’ve never heard of via reader reviews. Though I am cautious to read some of them due to spoilers.
Desiree, in an ideal world, I’d be honest at all times, because honest feedback should help people. But I’m wary of giving honest feedback because a lot of writers are not ready for it. I also find that some (definitely not all) authors are very precious about their books, because they have put in a lot of non-writing work in the book as well.
I do add books to my TBR list based on reviews as well– but whether I finally buy them depends on the excerpt I read.
You have a good point. This is a pretty complicated subject, huh? lol!
Not sure what qualifies as an indie author. Self publishing?
I belong to a writing group that meets and we critique each other’s writing
Our writing has improved. Is this encouragement or support. Is support only about buying the final product?
You raise an excellent point here, Ann. No, buying the final product is not the only way to support an author. I’m also part of a beta-exchange group, and we support each other that way.
Andrew’s original post was for an internet support group, and I think internet peer review groups are harder to put together,
Being independently published is anything that is not being published by one of the big publishing houses in New York, so self-publishing but also small and mid-level publishers are considered independent.
It works the same as movies.
I have several books in my bucket list I would like to read, however timing is not always on my side to acomplish committed reading to provide a fair review. I do however try to support other indie authors n works I admire in other ways. I’m not sure if it’s proper etiquette, however not to say anything at all, encorage, support other work in some level would be silence and lack of any encouragement all together.
Agree– time is a major constraint. And yes, encouraging one way or the other is better than total silence!
Hello! I’ve never read any Indie books but I am open to the idea. As far as writing reviews, I’d have to say I’m okay with it. One of my Twitter friends was gracious enough to send me a copy of her book to read and asked me to give her my honest opinion! I’m so glad she did…it was awesome! I was more than happy to write a review for her and on more than one site! She didn’t even have to ask. For me, it just seemed like the natural thing to do. I was honored that she sent me the book and wanted my personal opinion. I just took it a step further and did the reviews. As a reader, I pay attention to reviews but not to the point where I allow it to deter me from reading a particular book. The ‘star’ ratings can be a deterrent also but I don’t allow it to be. What one person might give 2 or 3 stars for, I may feel deserves a 4 or 5. So, I like to judge for myself. I hope this helps! 🙂
Sylvia– I have reviewed books for friends, once or twice in the past. But I didn’t like how stressed it made me, so now I try to support in other ways, but no reviews 🙂
Damyanti-It’s important to stay true to yourself and do what works for you. If I am ever asked by numerous friends to do reviews, I might feel the same way! Support is key and there are plenty of ways outside of reviews. Have a great night! 🙂
I suppose it depends on the writer and your relationship. I’ve been on Authonomy for years because writers review each others’ books. I like the pats on the back, but I really prefer the reviews that tell the truth — the good, bad and warty. It helps me to improve my product. If you’re ready to publish and haven’t received a few negative comments, you probably haven’t had enough beta readers and you ought to wonder if you really are ready to publish.
That’s my view when I do reviews as well. At least in that context, I want to give valuable critique, not just act as a cheerleader.
I completely agree with your view on reviews– I suppose I just lack the courage to be completely honest in a review– any constructive crit I have is best given in private, imho, if the author asks for it. An honest review from me might affect sales, and I wouldn’t want that for a blog friend.
Loved this. I do agree. I offer to review Indie books; but I don’t post a review if the book is really sub-standard. I mean, Goodreads is full of 4 and 5 stars to mediocre books. I would rather not post than post a negative review.
I think one can support by being beta-readers. Do you know how we can form a beta-readers group to exchange views and opinions before the book goes to print?
P.S- Would love to be interviewed by you when I decide to publish.
Sweety, I’m part of such a beta-readers group, but I’m actively looking for some help from Indian readers for my novel. maybe we could talk? Absolutely, hit me up for a post on my blogs when you publish, will cheer you on!
Hi,i am quiet sure if i may intervene in this but of-late i have been hearing from writers that a literary agents help best sorted out if you arent sure enough about the reactions.
My personal take on it is,after long, the readers are now looking for change over the conventional novels.
I meant the Indian readers.
I completely agree with you on the book review point. I have been meaning to create a “book review” section on my page, so I could one more aspect to my blog, but just like you, I am terrified of it. I keep thinking that if I don’t like a particular book, I have to be honest about it. Even if I say everything nicely, and not offend anyone, the writer will be offended. So I stay away from it for the foreseeable future as well.
Mariam, you know where I’m coming from. I do try to provide support in other ways.