The Museum of Magical Miniatures: Gallery One

The Museum of Magical Miniatures

Gallery One

The Glamourist by Luanne G. Smith

The Glamourist

New Release Review

SFF Books by Authors of Color: An Incomplete List of Suggestions

SFF Books by Authors of Color



Books Make Great Gifts, But For Authors Book Reviews Are Even Better

Bookcase Tree by Unknown ArtistThis is the time of year where most people feel generous. Many believe that the holidays have been spoiled by consumerism, and to a certain degree that is true. However, my experiences throughout the years have shown me that this is the time when people want to express their gratitude, show their appreciation for someone, or just help make life a little bit happier for someone else.

Books are popular gifts. But what about the authors who write these books? If you know an author personally, or if you are a fan, one good way to show appreciation for their work is to write a review or leave a rating on the seller’s website. Reviews do more than just reflect the quality of a book. It helps the writer gain exposure, learn a bit about their readers and what they like and don’t like, and sometimes even helps them become better writers.

At first glance, reviews serve as a reader’s gauge. This is especially true for self-published authors who publish primarily in digital format. A low rating will have the browser questioning whether the book is worth reading. In the Internet age, a book has only a few seconds to catch a reader’s attention. There is simply too much stuff out there. Lacking a heavyweight name that can sell books on reputation alone, an author has to rely on these four factors to sell books online:

1. Cover
2. Price
2. Book description or synopsis
3. Reviews/ratings

Prosperos Bookstore by Stephen CrutchfieldOf the four, reviews are the sole independent indicator of the quality of the book. Ratings are also a lightning fast way to dismiss books that might not be worth the time to read. It is a type of visual resume, where a reader can immediately disqualify the books that are low on the ratings scale and focus on books on the high end of the scale. Also, reviews do more these days than just reflect readers’ opinions. Everything gets measured and analyzed these days.

For example, Amazon uses algorithms to identify books that have a certain amount of good reviews, and gives it more exposure. So a novel by an unknown author might have a certain amount of good reviews by readers. Amazon uses the review rating to determine if this book might appeal to readers with similar tastes or shopping habits. The book then appears on recommended lists of similar readers. One of these readers may to give this unknown author a chance. They buy the book and drive up sales for the author. And if they like the book and also give it a good rating, the book may appear on more recommended lists.

Reading in the Snow by Katarina KrekPrint-on-demand and brand new self-publishing business models have eliminated the barriers of entry of the traditional publishing industry and made it considerably easier for a writer to publish their work. Because of this, there is a glut of books, and the quality ranges from excellent to terrible. There are books with great potential, but are poorly edited. There are well-written books with mediocre or unoriginal plots. There are books that are simply not that good. But there are also very good books available. And for now, the best way to find them is to check out what other readers are saying about it.

Positive reviews also help the author gauge the appeal of their work, and reflect the reader’s appreciation. Authors have to deal with a lot of criticism, whether they have a great book or not. People seem to be more inclined to submit negative reviews than positive ones, so even the good books that have high ratings and good reviews will receive some kind of shade. As such, when an author receives a positive review, they really do take it to heart.

This is not to say that a review has to be perfect, a sales pitch, or an essay-length article. I agree with the saying that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Still, an honest review is the best review. Writers need a reader’s perspective. Constructive criticism helps, and most (not all, unfortunately) authors welcome this type of critique. They understand that someone appreciated their work enough to comment about it, and this is a good motivator. It helps writers become better.

OMG BOOK by JessicaOssaWith that being said, a flat-out bad review can be as harmful as a good review can be beneficial. Not only can it steer readers away, but negative reviews impact book sales in other ways as well. For example, Amazon is beginning to respond to complaints of poorly written e-books by pulling them from the site and informing the author that the book needs to be revised before it will be available for sale once more. It sounds like a good idea, but imagine the harm that frivolous or malicious reviews can inflict on someone who writes books for a living! If you would like to review or critique a book that is not perfect, feel free to point out flaws, just don’t be mean about it.

If you have stumbled upon an enjoyable ebook, or if you know an author you believe is talented but not well known, a review can be a wonderful gesture of appreciation. If you have not done so already, please consider submitting a review for your favorite book or author.

Happy Holidays!

Title image by overthemoon.


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