Why readers don’t leave reviews

All authors know how frustratingly difficult it is to get genuine reviews that you don’t have to pay for, and which don’t  involve family or friends doing you a favour. I’m talking about genuine reviews from genuine readers here.  Ever since I published my first novel, I’ve wondered why readers don’t leave reviews, so yesterday I decided to ask them.

In my totally unofficial poll on facebook, the answers I received were as follows:

I only review if I like the book.  I only review indie/self published books. I only review if no other reviews say what I want to say.  I didn’t realise you could.  I can’t be bothered.  I do.

The first two of these are fine, I’ve no problems with these at all.  My problem is that if these are true of all readers, then 99% of the people who have read my books, hated them and/or did not realise I self published them.

The third is very odd to me.  Why decide not to review just because someone else thought the same as you?  Surely a product (whatever it is) with multiple reviews saying similar things, would help you to decide whether to buy?  If ten reviews all say they love the book, then other potential readers would be more likely to buy?  Or am I missing something relevant here?

I’m totally surprised to find someone did not realise you could leave a review.  There can’t be many people who don’t buy things on Amazon and other internet sites, and everyone (but everyone) knows Amazon is full of reviews.  If this answer was genuine, then I’m shocked.

The “I can’t be bothered” answer is, well, um, sigh…!  Sometimes, just occasionally, say for instance, when I read that people just can’t be bothered to leave reviews, I fail to find a reason to have much respect for people.  I do however, think this is the actual reason why 99% of people don’t review.

The last answer, the “I do” answer made me laugh, and I’ll tell you why.  The person who said this, told me some time ago that they bought at least a couple of my books.  They never reviewed them.  So, they either haven’t read them yet, or they didn’t buy them at all.  Someone just sharted in public I think..!

So what does this teach us as writers?  It teaches us that people just can’t be bothered to review, unless they are book reviewers or other authors.  Despite most people saying they do read the reviews when deciding whether to purchase an item, they can’t be bothered to leave one themselves.  This doesn’t help us as authors, and there is obviously nothing we can do to encourage people to leave a review, when they just can’t be bothered.

At least we know that there is no need for us to blame our lack of reviews on the quality (or lack thereof) of our work.

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