I have tried recently to review everything I read.
Although given my recent writing commitments that hasn’t been very much.
What do reviews mean for authors?
Reviews help sell books. The more reviews, the more likely people are going to consider a book. They don’t all have to be brilliant, but needless to say repeated bad reviews aren’t going to help.
For independent authors this is very useful to help draw readers to their books.
They also help the right readers find your books. I have read a number of reviews that said something along the lines of “this wasn’t what I thought it would be” and can help you, as a reader, filter out the books you might have bought that aren’t what you are interested in. This might not sound useful for the author, but it will help the author ensure they are clear on the genre and market their books appropriately.
Reviews can help motivate the author – when they get good ones.
Who is a review for?
You might have picked up from above that reviews aren’t actually for the writer, but for fellow readers.
They are designed to inform other readers as to whether they may enjoy the book or not. They are a recommendation to buy, or not.
What to include in a review:
Firstly, a little about the book without giving the plot away.
Secondly, what you thought of it and why.
Example of a good review: (one I made up)
“The Hill” – a romance
I loved it!
Jake and Jill meet under the worst of circumstances and soon realise that they don’t like each other very much. But then they keep ending up at the same events and when Jill appears to be the new associate in Jake’s office it looks like their only choice is to work together.
I was able to connect to the characters and it had a happy, realistic ending (as all good romances should). This is a well written, engaging story which not only shows how people grow within relationships but how we can’t always see our own behaviour clearly. A great read. Strongly recommended.
What not to put in a review:
The spoilers or twists – because giving the plot away will stop others reading it even if you loved the way it was done.
Personal attacks on the author – you are reviewing the book not the writer; who they are as a person, or who you think they are does nothing for your review nor would it influence other readers.
Simply stating it is ‘bad’ or ‘crap’ or similar comes across as trolling. You don’t have to like it but tell us why you don’t like it. For example, the characters didn’t jump off the page, the plot was predictable.
The same goes for ‘Great’ – which every author loves by the way, but again, tell us why.
It doesn’t have to be an essay – a couple of lines or a paragraph. As someone searching for a book to read I’m not going to scroll through pages of a review to get the details. And I have seen reviews like this – that spell out every pro and con of the novella they just read, the review almost as long as the book!
The key here for writers is that although reviews do benefit the author, they aren’t meant for you. They are a conversation between readers.
So don’t get caught up in them and don’t respond. They do help you sell more books but commenting on a review will only stop people reviewing your work in the future and, worse, stop them from buying your books.