The Power of Book Reviews

It’s January, the month of goal setting and go-getting. And one goal that most, if not all, writers work towards is getting more book reviews. So for today’s Writers Journal, I wanted to address book reviews, what makes a review bad or good, and how to get more. 

Are Book Reviews Important?

In a short answer, yes. Book reviews are one example of what marketers like to call word of mouth. They often view this as the best advertising there is because whose opinion could you trust more than someone you know. If you look at any big-name author’s novel, there are upwards of thousands of reviews for books. So if anyone tells you reviews aren’t important, think of how many people take the time to write those reviews. 

I also took to the twittershpere and asked the always supportive #WritingCommunity and #ReadingCommunity for their views on book reviews. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t see a single reply that claimed book reviews held no sway in their opinions. Some readers/writers only looked at the star rating, to prevent any reviews from spoiling their experience, and others mentioned it depended on the quality of the review. 

Indie Authors also threw in their comments and one of my favorites was “They are not just for coloring stars in yellow pen.” A comment from @michaeldevalier. Sometimes an easy review is to just leave the stars, but your three-star review may be my five-star review. The stars aren’t enough. So how do you write an excellent review?

What Makes a Review Good?

Let’s knock out the poor reviews first. Comments like it sucked, not for me, terrible, and any other one to three-word summary make a lack luster review. Why? If you couldn’t even stand to finish the book, and all the characters were stupid-heads, why should you waste more than an iota of your time writing a “good” review? Because it matters. The few minutes you take to form a few lines of thought out responses to your reading experiences increases the value of your review for future readers and the writers. And yes, the reviews you leave impact the authors, just ask them. 

I want to give an example of a review that gave me clarity even though it annoyed me. A reader of Extoria, no longer in print for many reasons, commented on my repetitive narrative. Now, at the time of self-publishing, I didn’t realize what a mess I had. And even though this review came a year after I removed it from Amazon shelves, it reaffirmed what I needed to search for in my edits. Back when I wrote the book, I thought the repetitive nature just drove the point home on how the characters felt, but in fact, it was driving readers from my book. 

Part of me wishes I could go back and never self-publish Extoria, but I did, and I can’t replace the lessons I’ve learned since then. But what made the review good was the simple explanation of why the reader didn’t connect with my book, even though they loved the concept. 

How to Get More Reviews?

This is the question so many of us writers ask. The answer, no one really knows. You can pay for reviews, but then you’re challenged on if they were honest. Most of us beg for reviews from family members, and maybe half will follow through. Then we go to social media, dropping our book links into a #selfpromo(whateverdayoftheweek) hoping to snag a new reader and review. You can always search for #bookreviews to see who’s doing them, and if your book falls into their niche. 

But for most writers, it’s a time game. Keep promoting your book, asking friends, family, or others who enjoyed it to share on social media, and keep your nose to the grindstone. Do all that you can, and support others to the best of your ability.

If you have recommendations for authors to get more reviews, any comments or questions about today’s article, or just want to say hi, drop a comment below.

And as always, stay fresh, my nugs.

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