Why It’s Important to Write a Book Review

Why It’s Important to Write a Book Review

old booksYesterday I was out to dinner with one of my close friends and we began talking about books. She loves books. She went through probably close to fifteen books in our conversation and pinpointed exactly what she did and didn’t like about each of them, so I asked her, “Why don’t you start a book review blog?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know, I’ve thought about it, but what would I say?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “What you just told me!”

Her worry is that what she has to say about a book would mean little and isn’t worth posting. That’s what I used to think as well. I never reviewed books or items or restaurants or anything. I read other people’s reviews of course, but never posted my own. I assumed what I had to say didn’t matter.

But I was wrong – because it DOES matter. It matters to the maker of that product, the owner of the restaurant, the author, musician, and the consumer. Reviews are so important.

How often do you see a book on Amazon or Goodreads and check out the reviews, good and bad, on a book? Even if you don’t go as far as read them – you probably make a point to look at the “stars”. It’s consumer nature to want an idea of what we are buying before we buy it.

Writing book reviews are great for four reasons:

Helpful for authors

Like I said, reviews are HUGE for authors. They can truly make or break an author. Reviews help an author with exposure, gaining an audience, credibility with readers and publishing professionals, and sales.

Helpful for consumers

Reviews give consumers better information to help make a decision to buy or not to buy. “Is it worth it?” is the question we ask, sub-or un-consciously, and with reviews we can answer this with more confidence. Sometimes reviews may even be half good, half bad, and we may just decide to buy it for ourselves to decide anyway. Often times we want to be able to answer the other question: “What am I getting myself into?”

Chance to process the book

Writing a review is like journaling about your day – it allows you to reflect (on the book) and how you felt about it; what you liked, didn’t like, what you are walking away with. On top of that, it can help you let the book go so you are ready to move on to another one. How often do you find yourself caught up after a really great book and not ready to start another because of it? I found reviewing books helped me refresh for a new read.

Embrace your tastes

Reviewing can teach you a lot about yourself as well. You may begin to see patterns – what you like and don’t like in a book. What to stay away from, and what to try more of. It can help focus your tastes and in turn provide for a better reading experience.

 

Reviews can mean everything, especially in the age of self-publishing. Every single review counts.  If you like an author, help them out – post a review!

What other reasons are there to review books? Do you write (and read) reviews yourself?

About Katie McCoach

KATIE McCOACH is a developmental book editor at KM Editorial, LLC working with authors to help them create their best story! Be sure to follow her on Twitter @KatieMcCoach.

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7 Responses to Why It’s Important to Write a Book Review

  1. Linda Lee Williams March 12, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    Katie, when I read this old blog post, I had to chuckle myself. My dear author friend, Jackie, has changed her mind about enticing readers to write reviews. In fact, she advocates not only thanking our readers in the back of our books but also asking them to take a moment to write a review and help us “get the word out.” Being traditionally published is a lot different from being independently published: We have to promote ourselves and our work any way we can.

    Thanks for reposting the blog.

  2. Warstub March 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    …and this is the reason why people shouldn’t write reviews:
    “This book should not be designated Christian reading. The first few pages are filled with cussing. I get enough of this in every day life and don’t need to read it.”

    This person read the first three pages of my novel ‘I am the Local Atheist’, stopped reading because of swearing, and decided to write a 1-star review warning people. I don’t mind letting people know that the reviewer doesn’t think it should be labeled ‘A Christian Novel’ and the reasons for that, but I do mind if that judgement is made on only the first 3 pages – I mean, that is even less than the full sample: did she even download the book? I know that she didn’t pay for the novel, because I can account for all my sales!

    It seems pretty unfair considering the reviewer has no idea what happens thoughout the rest of the novel. Sadly my book has been dragged down to 3-stars from it’s previous 4-star rating, and does anyone even stop to look at books on a 3-star rating?

    • katiemccoach March 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughts!

      Unfortunately, this happens to authors more often than we wish to admit. I see this sort of issue come up often, but one thing to keep in mind is that every reader comes to the table with their own bias. It’s all subjective, which is why sometimes bad reviews can spark conversation with other reviewers OR a reader may decide to read the book and see for themselves. If every reader begins to say the same thing, then there may be a pattern worth exploring – but not every book will receive only 4 or 5 star reviews, even the exceptional ones. It’s the nature of writing and reading and putting your work out there. I personally try to offer constructive thoughts, and if I do not like a book I provide the reasons with the pros and cons so another reader can see my review and make their own opinion based on what *they* like.

  3. Jackie Weger June 28, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Linda Lee, your post touched a nerve. Before the explosion of Amazon Kindle, online publishers and indie authors we got our book reviews from the NY times, Publisher’s Weekly, the Life Style Sections of our local newspapers. The ordinary reader did not get ARCs–that was a jealously guarded perk of Reviewers. The ordinary reader was not expected, nor asked to write a review. If a reader liked a book, word of mouth moved it. I wrote category romance novels, still do–no matter what they’re labeled. The books had a shelf life between yogurt and ice cream; remainders were stripped every thirty days to make room for the next set. Because books can now hover in the cyberworld until the sun burns out or the Rapture–which ever comes last–writing reviews has become a subindustry in the universe of ebooks. Amazon encourages it, because it sells books–or not. Up until a year ago when I first entered the ebook market the only electronic device I was familiar with was my ATM card. Now, my publisher expects me to do something called branding (cows or Tide?), Facebook, Tweet, You Tube, Pinterest and Goodread; also submit ARC, epub and Mobi copies to review sites, have a webpage, maintain a blog, do on-line interviews, and wave at every ebook romance reader cruising cyberspace. This may be wrong-headed thinking, but I don’t want to put my readers to work promoting my books. It’s enough that she buys them, enjoys them and returns for another title–so I’m not going to ask her to write a review–a royalty check is my review. On the other side of the coin–I buy books–hundreds of them a year. I often write a review, not because I know an author or was asked ti write it and I post on Goodreads–my Internet word-of-mouth. I’m new to the on-line writer’s community. I’m in a few on-line Kindle author’s discussion groups. Over the past month I’ve been asked to review about 150 books. Buy them. Read them. Write a Review. Catch: I’m told if I don’t like the book, don’t write a review. Only post four and five star reviews. Excuse me? That’s not how it works–especially after I’ve spent my money. Listen, I’m saving for Botox injections, I’m gonna be annoyed if the book did not live up to the cover and the blurb. So, I’m declining to do reviews–unless I discover a book/writer on my own.

  4. Linda Lee Williams June 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    This is so ironic! Yesterday, my Windy Lindy blog (on my website) was titled, “The Importance of Writing Book Reviews.” The blog posted on my Amazon author page and Goodreads, and I posted it on my Facebook author page as well. Readers–even our family and friends–just don’t seem to understand how important it is for indie authors to have their books reviewed…

    • katiemccoach June 11, 2013 at 6:34 am #

      Hi Linda,

      That is pretty funny! It really is important and I hope the more it’s talked about, the more word spreads and we can help out authors everywhere!

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    […] McCoach presents Why It’s Important to Write a Book Review posted at Katie McCoach Editorial, saying, “This article discusses four reasons why […]

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