When was the last time you bought something from Amazon without glancing at the product rating or skimming the reviews? Do you recall the number of hours you spent getting through that last novel you read? If you’re going to be spending a lot of time with that book, you might want some reassurance that it’s worth the hours you’ll spend reading it. You’re not alone, more than 85% of readers base their decision to purchase a book on the reviews it has. Your review is important because it could directly affect the very next customer who considers buying that book.
Your Review and Marketing
If you’re a reader, but not a writer, you may not be aware that the number of reviews, as well as the overall star rating, will impact the algorithms for targeting customers. For example, a book with eight five-star reviews will appear less often in the suggestions for customers, while a book with eighty-five reviews and a rating of 3.2 will be recommended more often, and visible to more readers. This means that the algorithms favor books read by more people or read more often, over books with the best ratings. The influence of reviews goes far beyond your ability to get your thoughts to the author, and this is one of the main reasons you will see writers begging you to review their work.
Your review will help to provide other readers with more information that may expand on the book blurb or marketing that is already available. A compelling blurb is important for any book, but some readers may want something more to encourage them to take the plunge. A summary by someone else who previously read the book may fill in the blanks or reassure the shopper that the novel is one they will enjoy. By writing a review, you’ll be helping like-minded people discover more reading material.
Providing Feedback to Writers
If you enjoyed the novel you’ve just finished, a review is an excellent way to encourage the writer to continue their craft. It’s not easy for artists to share their work with the public, and publishing can be an intimidating undertaking. By reviewing the author’s work, you’ll be showing them that their writing is worth reading and getting out there. A review gives you the opportunity to provide a writer with direct feedback, good, bad, or constructive.
That being said, there is no rule that states a review must be 300 words and 750 characters. If you enjoyed a book, but it wasn’t the greatest thing you’ve ever read, give it a four-star rating and keep the wording simple: “Enjoyed the adventures of Sally, would definitely recommend ‘Sally’s Adventures’ to others.” Thoughtful, well-written reviews are important, too, but if you don’t have time for that, a sentence or two will suffice! If you didn’t care for the book, be honest but fair: “This book wasn’t really my style. I couldn’t get into the characters.” If you’re giving it under three stars because “it wasn’t your style”, say that in a review. When it’s a matter of personal preference, try to remember that just because you don’t like a certain genre, it doesn’t mean that someone else won’t enjoy it. That’s why it’s so important to give a reason for your star-rating, because it may be the deciding factor for a reader checking out the reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.
If you believe something you read truly deserves a bad rating, then it is acceptable to leave a one or two-star review, but to do so without elaborating on why is unfair to other readers and to the writer. If you’re going to directly affect the sales of that book by leaving a low rating, you should back it up with the reason why you rated it that way. For example, “This book had great reviews, so I gave it a chance. I was disappointed in the execution of the story and found I had no interest in seeing the outcome of the plot because of the lack of description and empty character development.” Be honest, but don’t be mean for the sake of being mean. Someone worked hard on the product you are reviewing, and while it’s important for them to receive feedback, bad or good, it should be offered in a reasonable voice.
Don’t Be Shy
You may not have realized your thoughts on any one book matter so much. When it comes to literature, the opinion of the readers, followers, and fan base really make a huge difference. Now that you know the number of reviews, as well as the ratings, influence the visibility and marketing of what you’re reading, we hope you’ll take the time to rate what you’ve read and say a few words. Don’t be shy, dive on in to writing those reviews, the water is fine!