Book reviews have taken on a whole new meaning for me since I’ve become a published author. Before any of my work was published, I didn’t always write a review for books I’d read. Shame on me. What I didn’t realize at the time is how much the review would mean to those authors—the old quote ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’ caught up with me.
How Reviews Help an Author
I can’t speak for all authors, especially best-selling ones, but I can for myself and a few close author friends. We love reviews and getting feedback on work that we’ve toiled over for years. Bad reviews aren’t our favorite, but I’ve actually had one of my friends laugh off a bad review. He said it made other people want to read what was so bad about the book. One of my favorite reviews was written by a 10-year-old who had read my young adult/middle grade book The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich: The Zombie Next Door. She gave my book a good review and wrote how much she loved it. Nailing the material for the age group it’s written for is what I strive to do as an author. Her review confirmed that for me.
Accumulating book reviews is also great advertising for authors. Word of mouth can’t be beat in my opinion. Who doesn’t ask family and friends for advice or opinions? Reviews also can translate into increased sales and unlock better promotions for books from sellers as well.
How Do Book Reviews Help Readers
As a reader, I choose a book by its subject matter, which I gather from the back cover and readers’ reviews. Sometimes, I admit, I’m sucked in by an amazing cover, but the book has to pass the back cover test to actually get purchased. For me and many other readers, we use reviews to determine if we really want to spend our time and money on a book. A glowing review can seal the deal for me, especially if someone knowledgeable on the subject recommends it. I was very excited to get a wonderful review from Cindy Vallar, author, editor, and historian of all things pirate. In her monthly maritime history column entitled Pirates and Privateers, she posted the review of my middle grade book Pirates Off the Deep End.
I’ve walked in an author’s shoes and have been seen the light. I actually went back and wrote reviews on Amazon for books I’d read years before. Even if a book isn’t your favorite, there is probably something worth mentioning that is positive about it: good characters, fast-paced, kept my interest. To say a book ‘sucks’ without elaborating doesn’t help an author or anyone trying to learn something from your review. More useful information would be ‘I couldn’t connect with the characters’ or ‘the plot wasn’t believable.’ A simple, three-sentence review can tell a lot. Keep in mind most authors spend several years and countless hours on each book, and granted, we realize not everyone will love our work, but respect and common courtesy is always appreciated no matter what your profession.
I may never reach my goal as ‘a best-selling author’, but as long as good reviews trickle in, I’ve done my job as an author to entertain readers. So keep this blog in mind the next time you read a book, and spend a few minutes typing your opinion of it. It’s not only your chance to make your opinion count, but your time and energy will be appreciated.
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