It's been a few months since my first book, The Upcycled T-shirt was published and made widely available by the lovely folks at C&T Publishing. I set out this morning to share a little bit of insight in what goes into getting published, the lengthy process, and some of the hurdles I've crossed along the way. That's when I sat down with my cup of hot chocolate/coffee and did a quick Amazon review check of my book- there it was a shiny new... 1 star review.
Gah! 1 star? Go ahead see for yourself. This particular reviewer says,
"thought the projects in this book were a little too crafty and not very fashion forward - seemed More appropriate for teens or kids to do. I was very disappointed in the skill level for these projects – they seemed very basic – not for seasoned sewists"
Okay, ouch- well that stinks. One thing I promised myself while I was writing this book was that I would never, under any circumstances respond to any review negative or positive. Instead I'm going to shed a little light on why book reviews are so very important for craft authors and why you should take time to write them (even if you don't love the book!)
I'm excited as ever to be a part of this revolution, where our society is leaning towards craft. I'm not specifically limiting the conversation to needle art, sewing, knitting but keeping in mind broad spectrum ideas of homesteading, technology, design, and so much more. You might have heard of this 'maker movement' and heck if you're here reading this- you're probably already a part of it! I know one thing for sure, doors are opening and we have potential to turn more and more people into makers instead of just consumers. Based on history alone, when you give makers the right tools and inspiration- they have the potential to change the world. Basically- that's the entire premise of the book too!
Avenues of influence abound from your favorite blogs, pinterest boards, and outlets like Instagram. With some motivation and the help of a friend, the local library, craft studio nearby you could learn a new skill today and still have time for cocktails with the girls. (Or more realistically kick back with the kids and eat popcorn while watching Star Wars for the 23,814th time!) Internet opens up the world of one on one instruction via classrooms like Craftsy and youtube- could it possibly be that books are no longer the way to go? Maybe. Why do people still bother writing books anyway?
What it boils down to is that there are advantages & disadvantages to every media, and if reading or browsing books works for you or you prefer to watch a video tutorial- it's important that you take time to leave a review. Just like those old days when you would check with Siskle & Ebert before heading to the movies we now prefer to check of Yelp! before deciding where to eat dinner for 'real' reviews by people just like us. Reviews are no longer left for professionals.
Book reviews are are important for craft authors because:
1. Unfortunately people online are more willing to rant about things they hate than post about something they actually enjoyed. (What's up with that?!) If of the 100 people who read my book 98 of them found it interesting, inspiring, and useful but 3 of them were unimpressed with the craft caliber and left low star reviews- guess what? People who check out book on Amazon are going to think it's garbage because they don't know about the awesome projects you've made or about the teachers in Indiana who developed an entire recycling/sustainabilty curriculum focused on your book. Bottom line is negative reviews will turn away potential buyers and jepordize book and event sales which allow authors to put food on the table.
2. Visibility is important in a saturated market. Anytime positive reviews are left it boosts the credibility of the author & their rankings within the world wide webbernet - including Amazon & Google.
3. Word of mouth will always be the best form of social media and powerful influence that ultimately will help authors cultivate their community and make valuable connections.
Anyone who has purchased my book The Upcycled T-shirt, taken a class online or off, supported TrashN2Tees or simply stopped by the blog: I am forever grateful for the love you've shown me. I know that it takes valuable time to share your honest thoughts, to write and post reviews, and to connect online. If you're given the chance please share your love with a friend or by posting a review of my book or someone elses.