A Toolkit And Compass for Romanceland

Because All The Roads Are Being Re-Built (Maybe)

Contributing To Word-of-Mouth

This is Part 5  (and the last) of a series:
Part 1: Romanceland Meltdown
Part 2: Finding Books – Part 1
Part 3: Finding Books – Part 2
Part 4: Assessing Books
Part 5: Contributing To Word-of-Mouth

(Series based upon a guest post at The Bookish Snob)

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If you’re mining the Internet for everyone else’s opinions about the worth of a romance novel, in order to figure out whether you should buy it or not, it’s only fair that you contribute back to the system in order to keep it going for other readers, too.

Once you’ve read a romance, you should tell others what you think about it.

Romanceland is a changing world — if this series hasn’t convinced you, just wait a while and you’ll see for yourself, if you haven’t noticed already.  Once upon a time you may have thought it was the purview of the professional editors and reviewers to give a public opinion on the worth (or not) of a published book.

Not anymore.

Authors are publishing directly to the public now:  Directly to readers, and cutting out all middlemen.

That means word-of-mouth — readers talking to readers — is now the most effective means of sorting out the quality books.

You may think that adding your simple review or rating to the cacophony already out there will be a waste of time and energy, because no one is going to hear you or pay any attention.  You’re quite wrong, if that’s what you are thinking.  Your review or rating may not get a direct reaction.  You may not get anyone commenting or responding to you.  It’s highly unlikely the author will thank you — authors are taught or trained by hard experience to stay far, far away from reviewers and reviews to avoid publicity nightmares.

However your rating and/or review will be noticed.  I’ve used this analogy before, because it’s an exact one:  I’m a dedicated blogger, and my blog posts get incredible amounts of traffic every day.  Yet I consider myself lucky if I get one or two comments a month on my blog.  But I know that people are reading and reacting to the posts because my stats tell me they are.

It’s the same with reader ratings and reviews.  You may not get any direct reaction at all, ever.  But your review will be read.  The author will absolutely read it, and if your review is a positive one, I promise you the author will be pathetically grateful.  Then, every single potential buyer who considers the book will read your review once you’ve posted it.  You will have influence over their buying decision, and depending on how you write your review, your influence could be small or large.  Your rating will also form part of the average star rating for the book.

Every time you post a review and rating for another romance book, you’re adding to the weight of information out there for other readers to find.

What goes around, comes around.  Romanceland is becoming a true community of readers.  It’ll pay off big time to contribute meaningfully to that community.

Review on Amazon, even if you didn’t buy there

You only have to write one review, then you can copy and paste it to all your favourite review locations.

Amazon should absolutely top that list.

You’re using Amazon as a primary search tool for book titles, and as an assessment database, too.  Putting your review and rating on there is only fair.

There’s a small bonus to adding your review to Amazon, too.  People can rate your review for its usefulness.  So you can get a little feedback on your reviewing!

Once you’ve pasted your review and rated the book on Amazon, consider adding the review to all the “biggies”.  You can pick and choose amongst your favourite booksellers and review sites:

  • Barnes & Noble.com
  • Kobo.com (which has the potential now of becoming the next Amazon, thanks to the recent Japanese buy out)
  • The bookseller where you bought the book, if they allow reader reviews.
  • Goodreads
  • Shelfari
  • Google Books
  • The book’s page on Facebook
  • Any reader groups you belong to
  • Your own blog, if you have one, or your Facebook page
  • A rating line and link back to the review on Twitter

 A review is better than just a rating

Many review sites and booksellers will let you just rate the book and forego the review.  If you’re not good at stringing words together, it might be tempting to avoid writing a review and just click on a star rating and consider your contribution done.

You’ll be short-changing the system if you don’t write a review as well.

No one is expecting perfect prose for reader reviews.  You’ve been reading enough of them yourself to know that they’re not always grammatically perfect, or even close to well-written.  Sometimes even the spelling sucks big time, and if you can pick up on that much, you know you won’t embarrass yourself with your own review, right?

You also don’t have to write pages and pages.  A short paragraph is all you need, explaining why you enjoyed the book — or why not.

Your review, however, should be considered.  If you absolutely hated the book, try very hard to analyse why you hated the book and state it in objective terms in the review.  Don’t just verbally puke all over it and walk away.  That’s not going to help the next reader figure out if the book might still work for her.

It’s also not going to help the author.  If you think the author isn’t going to try to understand why you didn’t like it, again, you’re wrong.  Authors always read their reviews, even the bad ones.  Especially the bad ones.  And yes, they listen.  If enough readers are complaining about the same weakness in a book, you bet the author is going to fix it next time around.  Especially indie authors, who are writing directly for readers.  They need feedback.  So make it constructive feedback.

Your reviews for great books should be just as constructive and considered.  What made it so great?  What works so well in the book to make it fabulous?  Readers will want to know why it’s such a great read — they will want proof that it’s a winner before they buy it.  And the author will want to know what works well so they can repeat it in future books.

Use A Plain Text Editor

Write your review in a plain text editor like Notepad.  Don’t use Word or Wordperfect, because these programs add a lot of hidden coding to your text, so when you cut and paste to websites, all that coding goes with it and can completely screw up your pasting.  Using Notepad ensures there’s no hidden crap, just text.  If you want to use features like Spellcheck and Grammar check, then you’ll have to use a full text editor program like Word, but paste the text over to Notepad once you’re done, then save the file in Notepad as a text file, and shut it down.  Open it again, and then copy and paste to websites.  You’ll have got rid of all the hidden codes this way.

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This is the final post of this series.  You now have a full set of tools and a good collection of resources for keeping up with the shifts and upheavals in Romanceland.  The evolution of the romance industry is ongoing and changes will keep happening for quite a while before anything that looks like stability will appear — if it ever does.  In order for you to keep finding the very best romance novels to suit your tastes and preferences, you need to stay on your toes, and keep looking in unexpected places.

Romanceland isn’t the same place it was even a year ago, and it won’t look this way next year.  You have to keep redrawing your map…or simply throw the map away and enjoy the freedom of exploring new territory every day.

Have fun!

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