Writers Need Your Help

I’m going to tell you a secret about writers. When they say writing is hard, they don’t mean the writing. Writing is a joy. Even when it’s hard, even when it’s frustrating, even when you stare at a blank page so long that it begins to stare back, writers love writing. They wouldn’t do it otherwise.

What writers find difficult is trying to get readers for their work. And trust me, even the shiest, most self-effacing writer wants people to read their books. But to do that, they need to promote their books. And that’s hard.

If you’re a writer, you’re a probably a probably an anxious introvert with depression and ADHD. I’m not saying every writer fits this profile, but gun to my head, I have to go with the odds. If you wanted to create a personality type least likely to promote themselves effectively, it would be hard to come up with a better one.

That’s where you, the reader, come in.

To help your writer friends, obviously you can buy their books. And while this is greatly appreciated, it’s not the greatest way to help them. How many friends do you think we anxious introverts have? Every friend I have could buy my latest book and I have a weeks worth of lattes and then on to the next book it takes two years to write.

No, the best way to help a writer (after you buy their book, of course; I am emphatically not advocating you not buy their books), is to leave a review.

It doesn’t even have to be a written review. Just leave a star rating on Amazon or B&N or Goodreads or wherever you got it from. This is soextremely critical to an author’s success in the modern bookselling era that it is impossible to say it too much.

Leave a review or at least a star!

It’s so important that I am going to tell you another secret: not leaving a review is worse than leaving a one-star review.

That’s right. If you’ve ever hate-reviewed a book, giving it one star and a scathing review, you’ve helped that author more than if you had just left nothing. That also means whenever you buy a book and don’t give it a rating/review, you’re doing worse than panning it.

Let me explain.

Humans no longer have much to do with selling books. They don’t choose what gets put in front of readers; algorithms do. And algorithms aren’t programmed to look at the content of the books, judge its merit, its readability, its prose, style, wit, plot, characters…the algorithm measures how well the thing sells and whether it thinks it can sell more. And one of the ways it judges this is by engagement. If people are engaged with the book, if people are talking about it, the algorithm will put the book in front of more eyes, hoping it will sell more if it gets to a bigger audience.

The biggest engagement metric is reviews. The more reviews a book gets, the more eyes the book selling algorithm will put the book in front of.

And engagement is more important than rating. Rating will be averaged out, whereas number of reviews is a single number. So, if a book as 49 5-star reviews and it’s 50th review is a 1-star, the 1-star reviewer has done the author a huge favor, as their star rating has dropped an infinitesimal amount, whereas 50 reviews is an inflection point that pushes the book into a higher engagement bracket, giving it access to a lot more readers.

So don’t just buy books (but definitely buy books! Don’t ever let it be said I encouraged people not to buy books!), leave a review. Your sale is one sale, but your review could turn into thousands of sales.

And I don’t just write this for my own sake (though definitely put reviews on my books, please), I do it for all authors. They are my family, my friends, my colleagues. I want them all to succeed at the highest levels. And more so, I want people to read their wonderful words. And people can’t do that if they don’t know they exist.