As a reader, I’ve always valued reviews when considering a new book. Unless it’s one of my “I’ll read whatever they write” authors, reviews can be a tipping point to my purchase. Perusing not only the five star reviews, but also the three’s and one’s, I look for why a book is loved, hated, or considered mediocre.
Even a bad review can spur on a purchase. Some readers dock stars because a book contains profanity or they consider it “too dark.” That might not be their catnip, but depending on the details, it might be a one-click buy for me.
But I’ve been woefully remiss in posting reviews myself. For NYT bestselling authors with hundreds or thousands of reviews already, I figured mine wouldn’t matter. Even for authors without a lot of reviews, I didn’t consider my opinion important. (We’ll save self-confidence issues for another article.) I have learned, however, that every review counts.
I’ve been late to the party in realizing the importance of reviews to authors. Through my years in RWA, I’ve become aware of how they can propel an author’s sales as an organic marketing tool. Like a friend at work recommending a book they liked, online reviews are word-of-mouth endorsements from satisfied customers (in a perfect world).
An online review gives an author credibility. Someone read their book and cared enough, one way or the other, to leave a review. Hopefully, that way leads to five stars. But even if a review isn’t particularly glowing, it’s bringing public awareness to the book and the author. Maybe a reader loved everything else the author had written, but this particular book wasn’t their favorite. That tempts me to check out the author’s other books.
And I’ve learned reviews don’t have to be as off-putting as writing a high school composition. This doesn’t have to be Book Report 101, with character lists and a long synopsis of the plot. Simply marking how many stars you think it deserves, saying what you liked about it, and hitting a few of the plot points or tropes, is enough for readers to make informed decisions.
Oh, and NO SPOILERS!
I’m the first to admit that I have a lot of catching up to do regarding reviews. I’ve read a lot more books than I’ve reviewed. But I’m working on it. You should too.
Read it. Review it.