We live in interesting times. Not to make myself sound TOO old, but there was a time when the critics had, you know, actual jobs writing for magazines or newspapers or (sometimes) TV shows. There were reviewers for books, movies, theater and TV and they were journalists. That all changed when the internet came around, of course.
And what happened was rather amazing. The entire culture shifted. Although it was probably always true that most people listened to what their neighbors and friends said about things like movies and TV and books and stuff, now your friend and neighbor could actually be all the way around the world. The people who were actually critics found out that pretty much everyone in the entire world was really a critic.
Sites like eBay and Amazon (and all of the others to come) soon thrived on people being able to give them opinions, their reviews. An entire crop of critics were born. Sure, there are plenty of knuckleheads out there who write truly "intelligent" reviews like "you suck!" but there are a lot more who actually take the time to create thoughtful reviews explaining why they feel the way they do about books and movies.
I am not here to say whether or not this is good or bad. Certainly, there are those out there who seem to have taken this forum as a chance to tear people down without really offering anything helpful (the Simon Cowell's of the world, if you will). And there have been plenty of movie makers and authors who have tried to fool the system and put out false positive reviews - and it has come back to bite us all. Overall, though, the potential for good with this ability outweighs the bad.
It is the review system that allows little guys, like me, to thrive in the ebook market. The reviews are what has helped the chaff be eliminated from the glut of self-published works and for the more decent and well-thought-out works to rise to the top. It allows indie publishers and indie authors to find an audience and compete against the giant publishing houses and, in some cases, even earn a living as a writer.
That's why reviews are so important. And sites like Amazon know that the reviews are key. They put weight behind books that generate a large number of mostly positive reviews. And when you are an indie author looking to compete against some of the publishing giants out there in today's market, getting the marketing power of Amazon behind you is truly key to any form of success.
So, I guess I am just trying to explain why I spend so much time running around begging you readers to leave reviews. I ask because it matters. I hope that you will leave good reviews or, at the very least, well-thought-out reviews, but I can't really control that. I hope that your reviews are honest, at least.
It's a tough market out there. I am far from anywhere near the top of the ladder in this world. I am far from making a living just writing my books, but I am scratching and clawing my way there.
And the great thing about it these days is that I don't have to do it all alone. I do it with your help. I do it because you, out there, my wonderful readers, find me and read my stuff and leave those reviews and then recommend the books to their friends using your social media sites. I mean, heck, you can Tweet a link right to one of my book's Amazon pages right from that particular Amazon page. That is an amazing thing.
And I thank you for it.