Book Reviews: Why Authors Need to Do Them

Updated on January 29, 2018
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing expert, nonfiction book editor, author of 21+ books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

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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?

Disclaimer: Both the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and both parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice and strategies presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional advisor where and when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive, arising from or relating to your reliance on this information.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Heidi Thorne

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    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      7 months ago from Chicago Area

      Brian, thanks for being considerate and committing to reviewing the new stuff in your reading library!

      But I have to agree that I also can't wait for used book sales in our area every summer. I find some great reads there, too. Occasionally, if I come across a used book that's still in regular circulation, I might consider reviewing it, even if I didn't get it on Amazon.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a lovely weekend!

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 

      7 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      You convinced me, Heidi. Henceforth if I read a book by a contemporary author and don't forget, I'll review it. I mostly get books to read at thrift shops, friends of the library sales, and yard/garage/rummage/tag sales, and mostly those used books were published decades ago. I did read and review an ebook by a hubber a few years ago. Maybe I could do more reading of current books and ebooks by hubbers and acquaintances whose writing I admire.

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      7 months ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks for stopping by, Larry! Have a great day!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      7 months ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting perspective.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      7 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      You are most welcome, Heidi!

      Regards,

      Suhail

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      7 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Suhail!

      First of all, thank you for doing reviews on everything you order from Amazon! That is a definitely a contribution to the community.

      I will admit that getting to one's Amazon buyer profile is a bit of a trick! On my public buyer profile, I can see all my reviews, reviewer rank, etc. There may be some differences between Amazon US and CAN in that regard. And then I have my Author Central profile which is something completely different.

      Ah, the wonderful world of Amazon. :) Thank you for your support, as always, and have a great week!

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      8 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      Heidi,

      Superb article!

      If you do the book reviews on Amazon, you may have noticed that the book review section is not showing under your Amazon 'Profile'. At least, it is not for me.

      However, if you go to the individual books, you can see your reviews are still there, but you can't see them under your profile where they were clustered all together.

      I am not an author, but I do reviews for everything I order from Amazon.ca.

      Just to let you know, the only books I haven't read are the ones that I had thought were within my genre, but I found them to be going tangential to it.

      Regards,

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      8 months ago from Chicago Area

      Flourish, learning diplomacy is definitely a side benefit of both giving and receiving book reviews. Thanks for pointing that out! Have a great weekend!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      8 months ago from USA

      You make excellent points that should extend to wannabes too! For books that are good, they’ll be a welcome gift of praise. For books that were not, it should teach skills in diplomacy.

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      8 months ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks, Linda, for chiming in and supporting other authors on Amazon and here on HP! Have a great weekend!

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      8 months ago from Chicago Area

      Bill, I feel your no-reading pain! I'm getting my book reading act back together, too. I know it's hard when we have so much writing and such to do. But I've made it my New Year's resolution to just read more and review more. Thanks for chiming in. Hope you have a bit of downtime this weekend... maybe to read? Cheers!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      8 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've made a good case for doing book reviews, Heidi. I'll keep your recommendations in mind.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      It's a tangled web out there in Book Land, isn't it?

      I'm going through this weird faze of not reading books. It's been three months since my last book read. For someone who read a book per month for ten years, this is quite a stretch of ignorance. :) Anyway, I'll get back on the horse soon and then try and follow your advice.

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