I’ve written reviews of the books I read for many years now. My reasoning for leaving reviews was always so much simpler than it is now: I wrote them because I enjoyed writing them (and still do, for that matter)! Now though, things are a little different. As an indie author, I’m beginning to appreciate the power of a review. Reviews are much more influential than I ever really gave them credit for and actually, they are influential in ways that I would never have even thought of. I’ve read some great articles lately about why reviews are so important to indie authors (this one notwithstanding), and it’s been interesting reading. Reviews are great for lots of reasons.
To Pay Homage, or The Ego Stroke
The most obvious reason to leave a review is to show respect to the author and give a little praise, a little ego stroke to their hard work. It’s a way to gush about what you loved, or share your frustrations with the parts you hated. It’s a way of talking about the books you read without annoying those around you with constant chit-chat about books they haven’t read! It’s also a way to offer constructive criticism, from a reader to an author, to help authors develop and perfect their trade. It’s not all about the ego stroke though…
The Road to Recommendation
Whilst it’s not something that I do often, I know that there are many readers out there who use reviews as a form of recommendation. They check out Goodreads or Amazon before buying a book to see their star rating, they get opinions from other readers about what was good and what was bad, and through reviews they decide, before buying the book, whether they think it’ll be a good one for them. This is increasingly important in the modern age, what with the competition pool of books being so massive! And besides, word of mouth is the absolute best form of marketing – and it’s something that money can’t buy! So if you don’t want to write a review to help an author, why not write one to help a reader?
Most books will have a negative review along the way – it’s natural, it’s human. Not everyone is going to like the same books and that’s okay. In fact, that’s more than okay – that’s great! Imagine how boring it would be if we all enjoyed the same things? No thanks! So negative reviews are bound to happen. I’m yet to get one, although I undoubtedly will in the future and I’m sure that I’ll get upset without even meaning to – it’s natural! If the review is constructive though, it’ll be okay – it’ll be worth it.
When I say ‘bury the bad ones’, I don’t mean bury the negative reviews that are useful but instead, bury the trolling, nonsense reviews like “I didn’t read this book because I don’t like the cover”, or “I’m giving this book one star because I don’t like this genre” (believe it or not, these reviews do exist on Amazon – take a look!). So by leaving a review, be it positive or negative, that actually has something to say, will help authors and readers alike by burying the bad ones!
As I mentioned at the beginning, reviews are influential in surprising ways. This is the surprising one. The average rating a book has received and, more importantly, the number of reviews it has received really can affect how often a book is seen by the average Amazon browser. A book with no reviews will be seen by no-one and so is likely to remain without reviews and gets stuck in a cycle, whereas a well-reviewed book will appear on plenty of recommendations and right at the top spots of the lists.
Amazon’s algorithms are a mystery to me (in fact, algorithms full stop are a mystery to me), but if a book doesn’t have a certain number of reviews, it won’t ever be shown in the recommendations, it’ll never be sent in those “you may also enjoy…” emails, it’ll never be put into that little “people who bought that also bought this…” section on each Amazon page. In short, a book without reviews is a book that’ll stay hidden. So if you love a book, or you want to help out an indie author (or even a traditionally published author) then please please please leave a review!
A Note for the Nervous
Of course, not everyone is a writer – not everyone wants to be. Sometimes, too, it can be difficult to get your thoughts into order (I’ve sat staring at the screen many a-time, trying to work out what I’m going to write about a particular book!), and of course, time is short for everyone. When we talk about reviews, they don’t need to be in-depth, philosophical discussions – although those types of reviews are great too! But just a few lines, a couple of words about what you liked or didn’t like will go a long way to helping your favourite authors to succeed.
And as a final little note, and in this vein, if you’d like a free copy of any of my books in exchange for an honest review, message me and I’ll send it over to you!