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Supporting Self-Published Authors: The Power of Your Reviews

July 18, 2023

Have you ever come across a book that failed to resonate with you? It’s a common occurrence for readers, but have you ever considered the impact your review could have on the author, especially if they are self-published and relatively unknown?

Yesterday, in a moment of vulnerability, I succumbed to the need for validation and vented my frustrations on social media regarding one particularly negative review. I’ve since come to my senses and removed it, but the whole thing got me a little rattled where it never had before. I’ve never allowed negativity to affect me at all, and yet, this one did, and I couldn’t help but ask myself: why?

I believe my reaction stemmed from a question submitted to me through my Wednesday Q&A form. A talented author reached out with a heartfelt message, expressing a profound fear of publishing due to the harsh manner in which some people word their negative reviews. She’d seen a friend of hers completely give up writing as a result of this very thing. It saddens me to think that countless timid authors, brimming with brilliance, might be choosing to keep their works unpublished out of fear of venomous criticism.

Obviously, if you don’t like a book, I’m not encouraging you to refrain from saying as much, however, before you do, I urge you to pause and reflect on the manner in which you say it. Take a moment to consider the author’s review count and following. If their numbers are below 1,000, chances are they are self-published and have taken an enormous leap of faith to share a book they painstakingly perfected over the course of years. I know this because I self-published and I remember those first glaring stains to my Amazon rating when I was first starting out.  Not the honest ones, but the cruel “I-think-I’m-a-professional-book-critic” ones that mentioned throwing my book in the fire. I mean… Really?

For a self-published author just getting off the ground, having someone tear apart their work with this sort of harsh criticism serves no purpose. The author learns nothing about WHY the person wanted to throw it in the fire and the reviewer’s followers immediately write off an aspiring talent that they might’ve otherwise resonated with. For us little guys, your review holds an extraordinary amount of influence, much more than it would for established figures like Stephen King or Colleen Hoover who might never notice it.

Instead of tearing down the works of self-published authors, let’s uplift them. Encourage them to continue pursuing their dreams and refining their craft. Provide constructive feedback that can help them grow as writers. Remember, your thoughtful review has the potential to shape their journey and make a meaningful difference.

It takes a lot of courage and dedication for self-published authors to put their work out into the world to begin with. They lack the backing of traditional publishing houses and often face numerous challenges on their journey. They write, edit, proof, re-edit, advertise, and take on all the printing and distribution challenges a publisher would otherwise handle. They deserve our support, not unwarranted negativity.

So, the next time you encounter a book that doesn’t resonate with you, resist the temptation to lash out with unkind words. Consider the author’s journey, their dedication, and the immense effort they’ve invested. Be mindful of the power your review holds, and use it to foster an environment of encouragement, growth, and support for self-published authors. Together, we can make a positive impact and nurture a community where aspiring writers feel empowered to share their stories with the world.

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