As an author, you know the value of a good book review. It gives you confidence and courage. It tells you that your time and work were worthwhile. And it sells books.
But there’s another side to book reviews that may not be as obvious. When you take the time and trouble to write book reviews, you do good things for yourself, your fellow authors, and the world.
Why write book reviews? Here are five reasons.
1. Attract Visitors to Your Website
One of the most important things you can do to attract attention and visitors to your website is to update it frequently with fresh content. But for an author who spends a good chunk of the day writing long-form content, producing more seems like too much.
If you’re going to be doing research for your book anyway — background material and works in your genre — you can post book reviews on your site.
By doing that, you’re giving useful content to readers who want to read what you’re reading — and eventually, what you’re writing. And your book reviews, by showing your literary likes and dislikes, give your readers a basis to feel that they have a relationship with you.
2. Process Your Reading More Fully
Sitting down and writing a short review of a book helps you process what you read. It forces you to make connections and put into words the shapeless thoughts that swirl around a book.
Once you’ve reviewed a book, you have a record of your reading, which you can use later to remind yourself what you learned from it and whether it’s worthwhile to go back to it.
3. Help Other Authors
We all need reviews for our books. We need the emotional validation of a good review and even the do-it-better-next-time feedback of a thoughtful negative review. Having those reviews pile up on Amazon or Goodreads (and you can post a review on your blog and Amazon and Goodreads) gives a book a sense that people are talking about it, which gives others an impetus to buy.
And a good review can help ease the sting of the idiot who goes to Amazon, gives a one-star review, and says, “This book is so bad I lined the birdcage with it.” (If you do get a bad review, book marketing expert Dana Lynn Smith has some advice for how to handle it.)
4. Connect with Fellow Authors
Remember how you helped other authors out when your book was in process? Guess what. At least some of them will remember, too.
You’ve got a better chance of creating real relationships with fellow authors if you reach out and show yourself to be a friend. Those relationships can lead to blurbs, joint ventures, reviews, and great conversations at the next conFerence you’re both attending.
5. Blaze a Path through the Publishing Wilderness
As the number of books published goes up and up and the number of traditional large presses, land-based bookstores, and book-reviewing media goes down, book-lovers sometimes experience a crisis of faith in the future of publishing. “How can people distinguish between good books and bad books?” they ask.
Your book reviews help answer that. By regularly writing reviews, whether on your site, Goodreads, Amazon, some other outlet, or all of the above, you help readers find good books. As they discover that they share your taste in books, they’ll seek you out for more book recommendations and have more trust that your book is worth reading.
Why Write Book Reviews
Writing book reviews drives traffic to your site, helps you comprehend your reading, builds relationships with authors, and helps overcome the chaos of the publishing industry. Not bad for 200-500 words.
And if you want to find out how to get more reviews for your book (that’s an affiliate link, but I bought it myself and found it a good value), Dana Lynn Smith has a nice package of resources at the price of a bookstore paperback. Check it out.