For emerging authors, reviews mean everything. About 10% of readers leave reviews, but here’s why I hope you’ll be in that deeply loved, super-rad elite cross section of fans.
The number of reviews help authors get into promotional gold mines like BookBub, which can offer a book for free or a reduced price, increasing readership exponentially. (I subscribe to BookBub, and I get 1-3 books per month through them, easy. Who doesn’t take a chance on free books that sound like they rock? You just have to have a couple dozen reviews that prove more people are reading your book that your spouse, your siblings, and your mom.)
Word on the street is that reviews help push our rankings on Amazon. With a certain number of reviews, our book moves up in the rankings, which means it’s seen sooner in shoppers’ searches and is a suggested read to people who’ve read books similar to ours, or who even look at books similar to ours. That’s a huge leg up for emerging authors. I’ve clicked on that “suggestions for you” lots of times and found new writers. It works.
Reviews make it easier for authors to get their books in indie bookstores. Reviews mean people are reading our books (duh, right?). But with an increasing number of authors selling their books on consignment to bookstores, it helps to be able to approach a bookseller and say, “Hey, I bet you can sell all 10 of these copies, because I’ve got 50 4-star reviews on GoodReads!” That means it’s good for the bookseller, too—and we love our indie bookstores! It’s win-win.
“So, How do I Write a Review?” you ask…
It’s super easy. Brevity is OK. You don’t have to review like you write for the NY Times. I just saw a review for another author that read “I loved everything about this book. EVERY SINGLE THING.” And guess what I want to read now? That book. Some people get really into reviews and love writing a detailed critique, and that’s great. But there’s nothing wrong with short and sweet. With the average shopper’s attention span, that might even be more effective.
I’ll admit, I don’t often read lengthy reviews for books I’m interested in. I basically look for a hook: “great plot, interesting characters.” “Couldn’t put it down.” “Loved it.” The idea here is that someone liked the book enough to say a few words about it. Seeing that 20, 30, 50, or more people cared enough to leave a few words makes the average person more likely to give the book a try.
Think about the things YOU look for when reading reviews. What does a reviewer say that makes you want to read a book? And if you’re super shy, you can just leave a star-level review. No words needed. They still count!
I’m always interested in feedback from readers (OF COURSE I want to hear why you liked the book!) but reviews are most important because they indicate interest and a variety of readers. To potential readers, five 5-star reviews are less impressive than 25 3-or4-star reviews. (Those 5 reviews could be my family, remember? Not that I don’t appreciate my family’s reviews. THANK YOU! Every single one counts.)
The point is, your voice is what matters. By leaving a review, you’re boosting an author’s visibility. You’re spreading word of mouth, and that is invaluable. You’re also letting authors know that you enjoyed their books—and that matters, too! I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me happy to see a new review: it’s a punch on the shoulder, an “Atta girl!” that feels pretty great now and then. It keeps me writing.
Do I practice this myself? You bet. Check out my list on GoodReads. 🙂