Writing Tips

Let’s talk about reader reviews

It took me a long time before I started paying attention to reader reviews. When I was younger, it didn’t matter because I got my books from the library (and who cares if you don’t like a book when you can just take it back?). Even when I started buying my books, I didn’t look at the reviews. I knew the authors I liked to read, the genre I liked to read in, and so I’d buy according that. I ended up wasting a lot of money that way, though, and it made me realise something very important:

Reader reviews matter.

I became even more aware of this when I was published and got a bad review on Goodreads. It was my first real review, and it absolutely broke my heart. And then, shortly after, I got my first one-star review on Amazon. Both of these were for my first book, The Tycoon’s Reluctant Cinderella. Imagine what that was like for me. I was a new author, terrified that no one would like my book. Getting those bad reviews seemingly confirmed that no one did.

But I’m over it now. Mostly.

Anyway, my point, like I said before, is that reader reviews are important. Not only for other readers, but for authors, too. Here are some reasons why:

1. Reader reviews increase a book’s visibility

I’m not entirely sure of the mechanics of it (I doubt anyone is), but reviews affect the algorithms on Amazon and other websites. The more reviews there are, the more visibility for a book. In other words, the more reviews there are, the more likely Amazon will include a book in their ‘Based on your other purchases, you might like this’ email. This is amazing exposure for a book, especially for those by lesser known authors.

Reviews can also lead to more word of mouth. A successful author friend of mine once told me that the popularity of her first self-published book was because of word of mouth. It had her book selling over a hundred thousand copies,  which helped her get the attention of a respectable publisher and become a self-sustaining author. All because readers wrote reviews, and told their friends about her book.

2. Reader reviews help sell books

I might have been a little late in coming to the party, but most readers aren’t. They pay attention to reviews. And they pay attention to reviews that are good or bad. As someone who likes to look on the more positive side of things, I prefer reading good reviews. (Besides, I’m not quite as hard to please.) But good reviews general give me a feel of the book, and whether it’s worth buying. However, bad reviews can also have this effect. I’ve seen many people say they’ve bought a book because of a bad review. (When readers complain, for example, that a book has ‘too much sex’.)

3. Reader reviews don’t take up a lot of time

If I’d realised how important reviews were to authors and books, I probably would have started writing them earlier on. But now, I try to review every book I like (on Goodreads and Amazon – and by focusing on the positives). And writing them doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. Something as simple as saying ‘I liked this book’ or ‘Lots of emotion – recommended’ is more than enough. Remember, the more reviews, the more visibility, the more sales. So, the content of your review does not have to be an essay.

4. Reader reviews really help author morale

As an author, I can attest to how much reviews affect author morale. Because the author is very likely to see the reviews you write them, especially if they’re new (*cough*). Writing a constructive review (it doesn’t have to sing their praises – or bash them) for a new author can really help them to believe in themselves, and trust that they’re building a readership. And any author loves to know that someone out there is a) reading their work, and b) liking their work.

Hopefully, this post will help you to think about reviewing the books you read more often!

What are your thoughts on reviews? Share them in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!

6 thoughts on “Let’s talk about reader reviews

  1. Great post Therese! I love reading so writing reviews of books I read is a must. Especially when I know how much it takes to write an actual book, the Author deserves praise, especially local Authors who are up and coming. It really grates me when I take time to write a review and the Author pays no attention to it as they are now well established and reviews don’t concern them any longer.

    1. Thanks, Sumi! It’s lovely to know there are people who take the time to support writers! 🙂 I’ve also experienced that more established authors don’t always respond, but I think that perhaps they don’t know you’ve reviewed their book (unless you tag them on social media or something) or they aren’t doing their own promotional work. Though I’m sure they do still appreciate it!