If you are a parent, and your kids went through a “Land Before Time” phase, I apologize for the ear worm. For those of you who thought this post would include a dinner party menu, I apologize for disappointing you. (It’s a good idea, though. I’ll throw a dinner party this summer and write about it, I promise.) But today, I’m talking about writing book reviews, which is why I keep humming “Friends For Dinner,” a song that has something to do with a young Tyrannosaurus Rex successfully making friends with herbivorous dinosaurs.
As an author, I love when readers review my books. I’ve heard 50 reviews on Amazon is a magic number, and when you get that many, Amazon gives you the promotional equivalent of a magical pony. (Hasn’t happened for me yet. SEDUCING THE PLAYBOY has hovered at 49 for ages. Not that I noticed! LOL.) But I write very few book reviews. This sad fact has been making me feel like an asshole for years. YEARS. Because I know a lot of authors, and I want to support them. I know how hard it is to write, edit, proof, publish, and promote a book. It’s an enormous accomplishment just to type THE END on a first draft, FFS! Why don’t I write more reviews?
I know one reason: I don’t love all the books I read. Sometimes I love the author…and hate the book. If I can’t give it 5 damn stars, I keep my mouth shut because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. My editor brain can tear a book apart, but I’m not going to do that to my friends. I’m not going to eat them for dinner. The romance community is a tiny little world. To me, 5 stars means I’ll read a book more than once, make notes, it changed my life, I’ll never forget it, or I want to sleep with one of the characters as much as I want to finish my work-in-progress. (Which is a LOT.) I can’t give every book I read five stars without lying, which Amazon knows, which is probably why they keep monkeying with their review policy. I know I can give a book 4 stars and not say horrid things about it, I just haven’t felt right about it…until now. Because this year is all about identifying the things that make me happy and making them so.
I’m a reader first and foremost. I don’t always get everything on my to-do list done. My house isn’t white-glove clean. (HA!) I don’t always get to the gym. But I read every day. I always have. So why don’t I review more of the books I read when I KNOW it would help my friends and colleagues?! I mean c’mon, I walked into The Ripped Bodice bookstore in CA last week, and knew or had met, seen, read, or tweeted almost EVERY AUTHOR ON THE FREAKING SHELVES. Straight-up, I was a name-dropping fool. (Such a neat place! More on that later in the week. I’m going to write a Fangirl Friday post.)
So…why? WHY?! I know why. I’m sensitive. (I’ve always hated to be teased. Ask my mother.) I want people to like me. I don’t want anyone to feel bad. I don’t want to feel bad. (I hate conflict. Ask my editor.) OMG, I’m 44 years old, and I feel like I’m just beginning to figure myself out. It seems crazy, but I have the same issues I’ve always had. But now I’ve decided I to change for the better, to change for the happy. This probably would have been easier when I was younger, but it’s all part of my journey, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it. (Even though being hard on myself is where I excel. I’m trying to change that, too.)
I believe posting more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads will make me happy. Or at least remove one of the ways I’ve been feeling bad. For me, that amounts to the same thing. It will also help other readers discover new books, and, on the flip-side, help my author colleagues with that tricky magical pony business of discoverability. As for any hurt feelings should any of my author friends uncover my newly-cloaked reader identity and find I didn’t give their book 5 stars? I sincerely hope the royalties they earn from me buying the book will help them forgive me.
What about you? Do you review books? Do you have any issues with it? Do you use your real name? What about other issues? Got those? Identifying them? Working on them? 🙂
May I suggest making a change for the happy? It’s what’s for dinner!