This post explores the effects and benefits of taking the time to leave honest, critical reviews for books and e-books.  It may seem like such a small thing, but it has a profound effect for the reader, the author, and the book itself.  Discover why reviews are such a big deal, and why authors regard them so highly (even the negative ones).

You’re Already Thinking It

Reading a book is not just an activity; it’s an experience.  If it’s well-written, I make a connection to the characters and invest in the plot.  I feel the emotions from the laughter and joy just as much as the pain and loss.  After making the journey from the front cover to the back, sometimes I feel satisfied and sometimes I feel cheated.  Regardless, after finishing a book, one thing remains true: I have something to say about it.

Just like the conversation most folks have leaving the auditorium of a movie theater as the credits roll, I like give those around me the impression a book left on me.  My favorite character.  The chapter that made me laugh.  The plot point that took me to the edge of my seat.  Why I couldn’t put it down.  I like to hear the same things from my friends (the ones who read).  Books, just like films, can be eye-opening, thought-provoking, and life-changing.  If they found such a book, I want to read it too.

They Influence Your Decision

If you read a lot you probably have a stack of books in queue, waiting to be read.  On those rare occasions when I’ve made it through the stock and I’m actively looking for something new to sink my teeth into, I hit Amazon and start looking through e-books I might like.  When I see a title or a cover that strikes my fancy, I read the synopsis.  Even after the hook piques my interest, there is still one place I look before making my final decision: the reviews.

Reviews show you the feedback of others who have gone before you.  The reviews are categorized and counted by how many stars readers awarded them.  This total is averaged and the book is given a score.  When I see a book with a hundred reviews, and it averages as a 4-star or 5-star, I take it as a good sign.  But I don’t stop there; I take the time to read through a couple of the reviews, making sure to read both the positive and negative things.

All books are not created equal, and in the same vein, not all reviews are helpful.  I would rather see a 3-star review that outlines the reader’s likes and dislikes than a 5-star review that just says, “I loved it.”  I want to know what they loved and why.  It kills me to read oversimplified reviews.  I watch people post novella-length tirades on social media complaining about their experience with a local fast food joint, but they won’t take more than a few minutes to post an intuitive review about a book they spent hours reading.

Behind the Scenes

Readers only ever see the finished product of a writer’s work.  They don’t see the editing and revisions, the cover design, the endless queries and rejection letters, the formatting, and the marketing.  Do you know why authors always encourage their readers to leave a review?  It helps.  Reviews help the book rank higher in keyword searches on Amazon, and they help encourage readers to buy and read the book once they find it.  I wish I could count how many authors I find online doing everything they can to promote their book, and find out they have less than ten reviews.  It makes me sad when I take the time to read their book only to find a little-known treasure no one has noticed for one reason: a shortage in reviews.

For this reason, I make sure to take the time to leave an honest critique of books I read.  I like to think of it as paying it forward.  Perhaps, if I take the time to help an author out, my readers might just do the same thing.  It is not just for the author’s benefit that you take the time to leave a review, however.  The book that you so thoroughly enjoyed, another person might dismiss at a glance for lack of reviews.  That’s sad.  So sad.  So why not give others the opportunity to enjoy what you enjoyed.  To share in your pain and your pleasure.  Perhaps you didn’t like it.  At all.  There’s nothing wrong with leaving a negative review either.  Ever finished a book you didn’t like and wish someone wrote a review telling you what to expect?  You could be that person for someone else.

Why Should You?

If you want to know what’s in it for you, here’s some incentive you might find interesting.  Did you know that Amazon will contact people who leave a lot of reviews?  Merchants selling on Amazon can purchase access to consumers who are likely to review.  These customers will oftentimes get offers to try products for free in exchange for a review.  Now, the people they choose have usually left reviews numbering in the thousands, and probably buy online more often than the average person.  Still, I can’t imagine how someone could decline receiving goods at no cost in exchange for their opinion.  Every time I turn on social media I see there is no shortage in sharing opinions.  Leaving reviews is one of those rare opportunities where your opinion can truly make a difference.  So, why not?


I hope you enjoyed reading this post.  Moreover, I hope this inspires you to leave good reviews for things you read.  Somewhere behind the scenes, there’s an author hoping and praying for a reader just like you.  As always, thank you for reading and feel free to leave any feedback in the comments section below.

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