Book Reviews: Why Authors Need to Do Them
Frustrated by the low number of reviews you get for your books or eBooks? Well, you’re not alone. Every other self-published author is, too. So before you get all depressed about it, let’s look at what’s causing it.
The most likely explanation is that customers just aren’t taking the time to do a review. In various forums about selling on Amazon, I’ve seen that only a very small percentage—maybe even low single-digit percentages—of purchasers actually do product reviews. I think they might be correct.
Don’t get bummed by comparing yourself to your peers who seem to have a ton of reviews for their newly self-published books. Those reviews were likely solicited as part of a book launch. Want to verify that? Look at the dates of the reviews. You’ll probably see that they are clustered around a certain date, then there will be few or no reviews after that.
So it’s tough going in review land. But what I’d like to suggest is a writing community commitment to help turn the tide:
Authors, you need to do book reviews, too.
Too Busy to Do Book Reviews
True, many of us authors are very busy writing books and our time is limited. I totally get that. That’s a problem for me, too.
But I think we have to be honest if we’re just throwing the “I’m so busy” excuse out there when we just don’t want to do book reviews. That’s where I see a problem. If this is your story, then don’t be all bummed out when other people don’t review your books. Karma!
Not Reading Books
It’s easy for authors to say they don't do book reviews because they don’t have time to read books in the first place. I understand this issue, too. My Kindle is stacked with a bunch of eBooks that I bought, but haven’t read yet.
The problem here is that this can also mean that you’re not reading books on your topic or genre. So in addition to not doing reviews, you’re not keeping up with what’s being published in your market either. Plus, even reading outside your topic or genre can help you become more a more aware and flexible author.
“I’ll Only Review a Book If I Get the Book for Free.”
Do you only do book reviews if you get a copy of it for free? True, a free copy is an incentive and a reward for taking the time to read and review.
But is a review that’s “paid” for with a free copy a genuine review? It might not be since some people feel compelled to say nice things when given something for free, even if they don’t mean them. Organic book reviews from verified purchasers are pure gold!
And if you expect to get all the books you read for free, why should you expect anyone to purchase books from you? It's karma... again.
Plus, your investment in book purchases is continuing education for your writing career. Some of them might even be deductible as business expenses. See your CPA or tax adviser for details.
Careful With Competitors
In Amazon’s community guidelines for reviews, they don’t want people posting reviews for products that directly compete with what they themselves sell. You should already know when and if this applies to you (don’t say you don’t). And if you’re a widely read person, you should have enough opportunities to write book reviews for non-competing books. As well, there are likely many books in areas related to your market that would be appropriate for you to read and review.
I’m hoping I don’t have to remind you that if you do review the work of an author that’s in your field, or a related area, be constructive and courteous with your comments. Karma at work here, too.
Writing Book Reviews is a Skill
As I discussed in How to Write a Book Review on Amazon, there are several aspects to creating a helpful book review for other readers.
But aside from providing a benefit to both readers and fellow authors, writing book reviews helps you build your critical thinking and analytical skills. This can help you in critiquing your own work. You may also discover new ways of approaching your topic or genre.
So, in summary, here are the primary reasons why authors need to do book reviews:
- It contributes to the writing community by providing fellow authors with hard-to-get book reviews.
- It provides readers with insightful and helpful information that can encourage purchases of books and eBooks (which also helps fellow authors).
- It builds critical thinking and analytical skills which can help authors improve their own writing and evaluate current trends in their topic or genre.
- It’s good karma.
I’ve made a resolution to review every book I read this year. Will you be joining me?
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© 2018 Heidi Thorne