“How did we do?”

How often do you see this question in your email box?

In the last week, I have received emails from my optician and from a delivery service asking me to review their performance as deliverers of a service.

Not to mention from an online company that sells health related products asking for my views about the product I had bought.

It makes me want to scream!

Being Asked Our Views

It seems to be all the rage to use the convenience of email to ask our opinion on all sorts of goods and services. Occasionally, there is a small inducement, such as the chance (one in a million?) to win some valuable prize, but usually there is nothing.

You are asked to give a number of stars out of five. And, before you know it, you are asked why you gave this assessment. It all takes time with no payoff to yourself.

And it is very irritating. You had needed to buy something, and you went to a bit of trouble to decide what to buy and where. You made your decision, and it has come. Surely, this is the end of the matter.

As a former researcher (although not of this kind), I have tended to feel it is my duty to respond if asked. And I used to do so faithfully.

But it is becoming much too frequent. My patience is being tried. The simple solution, of course, is to delete the email. Problem solved.

Until the next one.

Book Reviews

But there is a different problem.

I write books. And we authors need good reviews in order to sell our books. Lots of reviews, the more the better. Otherwise, no one will be willing to buy.

Some well-known writers get every new book reviewed, often in prominent places. They are lucky, but they are a minority. Most of us struggle to get reviews whether from someone famous (or a fellow writer) or simply ordinary readers.

The more successful writers and their publishers use all sorts of means to engender reviews, most of which cost considerable sums of money. The rest of us simply ask at the back of a book for readers to put a review somewhere that it will be seen, such as on Amazon.

We don’t like doing it, but every bit helps. We hope that it doesn’t annoy readers too much.

And, to be fair, we are not large companies seeking to improve our market status by declaring that x percent of our users found us wonderful.

We are simply individuals, who have spent large amounts of time and effort to create a book, which may – in the absence of any review – end up languishing unread.

Each review makes a difference to the potential reader wondering what to buy next.

And equally importantly, it provides the most wonderful boost to the writer him or herself. We all know our best reviews off by heart.

Some years ago, Sir Ian McKellen said of one of my books, “As powerful as any great classic of fiction.” My heart swelled.

Much more recently, my latest book has received numerous positive comments, “a lovely, lovely book”, “original and perceptive”, “extremely well written.” My favourite came from a fellow writer who I do not know: “I loved your book”, she said, “Never stop writing.”

So, next time you read a book and like it, do think about it. A good review will really help to sell it to more people.

And it may just make the writer’s day.


This article was first published by SixtyandMe.com