I started reviewing books on a whim. Books were an integral part of my entire life. I read anything that was lying around the house. 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. I had a reading partner in my mother 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 purchased a book. I bought books based on the subject. It wasn't until I opened Amazon to see the reaction to my own books that I realized the value of a review.
I then understood what reading other people's reviews meant- they were a valuable tool in helping a consumer decide whether a book would interest them.
I started going through my vast library, trying to pick books I felt comfortable review. I had read so many. It had to be books I remembered and enjoyed.
At first, I wondered if anyone would read what I had to say. Once I posted my first review, I noticed I was in the millions in y ranking as a reviewer. I realized my reviews would not have much impact, but the more I wrote the better those reviews became.
Writing the reviews on these books was like visiting an old friend. I started reading other reviewers, learning what I liked and what I found offensive.
I discovered I don't like to leave negative reviews. Writing a review is a big responsibility. Some people enjoy trashing a book, pointing out all the things they didn't like. I think liking a book should do with personal taste and preferences. When reviewers wrote, things like "this book was horrible- don't buy it.” I found it judgmental. Just because I may not like a book, doesn't mean someone else may enjoy it. A lot should do with genre, style and the mood the person is in. I have shifted in my genres throughout my life, loving it one year and disliking it intensely the next year.
I try to give an open-minded review, knowing that author put their heart and soul into the book and thinking perhaps I can mention something that will appeal to a reader. The lowest score I will give is three stars and if a book can't make that grade, for me, I simply won't review it and take the chance of influencing people not to buy it.
I try to point out what I loved, and I will mention things that bothered me on a personal level.
The result of my efforts has been astonishing. I have become a Top Reviewer on many of Amazon's sights. I watched my reviews gain momentum. Soon, I was asked to be a featured reviewer in a few popular blog spots as we as two magazines.
I love hearing from people who read my reviews and have enjoyed their feedback as well.
Publishers have contacted me asking for reviews before the books are published.
More importantly than that, I have discovered by reading a book written by an indie 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, many without any help.
I have read some delightful books, many of them that would have never noticed or considered before. More importantly, I have made friends in this new community.
Reading indie books and their struggles furthered my own career. As I watched so many of them wrestle with publishing and promoting, it forced me to write about my own experience as an author with my social media partner that turned into a best-selling and award-winning book. Navigating Indieworld yielding a new blog radio show with the same name as well as a new magazine called Indie Author's Monthly.
I am enjoying this off-shoot of writing. 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?