Chances are most people reading this have bought at least one book this year and read that book plus others you already had. Did you enjoy any of those books? And if so, did you leave review for the books anywhere? I’d say nine times out of ten, the answer to this last question is no. And I’d have to answer “no” as well. I’m just like everyone else in that my time is limited or I simply forget to write a review for a book I enjoyed. But I need to be better about leaving those important reviews at sites such as Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble and via social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Why are reviews important, particularly if you enjoyed a book? There are several reasons. Here are a few.

1. We live in a world where people are much more likely to vent online if they hate something than to post something nice if they enjoyed it. Sad but true. So if you have 100 people read a book and 98 love it but only the two who thought it was garbage post a review, guess what. People who come across that book on a retailer’s site are going to think it’s garbage. They won’t know about the 98 people who thought it was a wonderful story with engaging characters. Those negative reviews could keep people who might enjoy the book from buying it, depriving the author of sales that are necessary to help pay his or her bills.

2. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, authors look for good opportunities to get the word out about their books. Sometimes online advertising venues have requirements such as a certain number of positive reviews on retailer sites before they will even consider selling you an ad. The same is often true of book review sites, especially if those sites are popular and have a lot of clout among readers.

3. I feel like a larger number of reviews, especially positive ones, helps books get seen on sites such as Amazon.com. We authors have heard about the mysterious algorithms that determine which books pop up on things such as the “you might also enjoy this” suggestions, but we don’t know what aspects of our books are weighted more heavily than others. Visibility is important in a marketplace flooded with books, so every little bit helps. I have seen mentioned elsewhere that it takes 10 reviews on Amazon before a book can be added to those “also bought” and “you might also like” lists, so my goal is to have at least that many for each of my books. But the more, the merrier.

4. Word of mouth. If someone sees a positive review of a book and decides to give it a try, he or she might also enjoy it enough to not only leave a review but also tell their friends about it. We’ve all heard stories about how word of mouth sent a book from obscurity to the bestseller list. Sure, it’s a long shot, but it’s better than no shot.

Authors truly do appreciate the time and effort it takes readers to write and post reviews. We know your time is every bit as valuable as ours, so I for one would like to thank everyone who has ever taken the time to leave a review for one of my books. And if you leave one for any of my books in the future, I would be ever so grateful. And if you’d like to share this post via any of the social media below, that would be awesome, too. Thanks!

Why romance? by Trish Milburn

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer from the time I was young, and even before I was aware there was such a thing as a romance genre I was writing romantic stories. I still have a school project I did in the 6th grade that was a cloth-bound little book that I wrote and illustrated. It’s the story of how a prince and princess fell in love and lived happily ever after.

When I was in high school, I began reading books in the romance genre courtesy of a good friend and her mom. I fell in love with those stories, even though some aspects of those ’80s romances would likely make me cringe now. But at their heart was the basic human desire to be loved and to be able to share the love within us with someone else. Like most things, the romance genre has evolved. While you might still find damsels in distress, they are just as likely to save themselves as be saved by some knight in shining armor. But even though the heroines have become stronger and more self-reliant, that doesn’t mean they don’t want love in their lives. And despite those critics out there who like to denigrate the romance genre, I firmly believe that love is a basic human need. We can have all the food and water our bodies require, but we’ll still crave someone to love and be loved by. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Honestly, in a world where the news is filled with one horrible thing after another, I think positive stories of falling in love and making a commitment to another person is just what we all need. Some light to counter all the encroaching darkness, something to remind us that the world isn’t all bad, that there is still reason to hope. I was reminded of this when I passed a sign recently that bore a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

I’ve never understood the need some critics have of writing romance off as unworthy. There are a lot of readers in the world, so there is room for romance just the same as there is for mystery, thrillers, nonfiction, religious fiction, and literary fiction. The existence of the romance genre doesn’t keep a literary novel from being published. Good writing of all types will rise to the top and find an audience. So I would challenge critics to refrain from putting down another genre in hopes of elevating their own. And this goes for fans of romance, too. It bothers me just as much to hear romance authors or readers putting down literary fiction as it does to hear the authors and readers of literary fiction poo-pooing romance. Rise above your prejudices, and realize that just because something isn’t to your taste doesn’t mean it is less or unworthy. And I challenge you to read the types of books that you may have in the past looked down upon. You might be surprised when you’re touched by a story of love, of struggle, of deduction or a unique perspective on the world around us.