Book Reviews, who are they for?

yellow star on white backgroundI’m participating in a discussion on Book Junkies’ Facebook group. The first question that was ‘what do authors really want from a review?’ It was interesting to me that a reviewer might be concerned with what the author wants.

I’m not talking about professional reviewers – they have a lot of interests to deal with and the author may not even get on that list. I’m talking about book bloggers and review sites and people who post reviews on places like GoodReads, Shelfari, and Amazon.

Purpose of a book review

I think a book review has one core purpose. To help a reader decided whether or not to buy a book. The information it contains can be anything from a two sentence “wow, I loved it” to an essay on the themes and subtext. If it is focused on helping a reader to decide what books to buy, it will not contain a rant about a misplaced comma, a commentary on the sad state of literature, or the reviewer’s preference for sexy vampires.

Reviews as a benefit to readers

I don’t think there’s any doubt that a lot of books are purchased because of reviews. As someone who looks at the one star reviews of books on Amazon, I can tell you that I’m more prepared to take a chance on a book that has a a few not so great reviews than one that only has five star. Let’s face it not everyone LOVES every book.

I also trust people who have given me good information before. The “WOW it was great” reviews only work for me when I’ve built a history with the reviewer.

Reviews as a benefit to writers

Back to the question that kicked off this post. What do writers want from reviews?  I can only speak for me and it’s pretty simple. I want you to be honest and respectful of me and my readers. If you hate my book, please just let me know you won’t be publishing a review and why.  A post that tears the book apart isn’t a review, because it’s not about readers, it’s about you.

Don’t summarize the story, it’s about recommending a book to read, so leave something for the reader to discover.

Please don’t make sweeping statements about self published authors. It’s not professional to paint an entire group with the same brush. We all know there are people who shouldn’t be publishing their own book. But that doesn’t mean all self published authors are rejects from the traditional publishers and it doesn’t mean we are all unprofessional enough to attack the reviewer.

Reviews as benefits to reviewers

For book reviewers, every review is a layer of your professional image. Every review is a reason for readers to trust you and every review attracts authors to you. Every review attracts visitors to your site.

If you are hoping to build  your online image, keep your image in mind when you do a review.

Authors, readers and reviewers out there, what do you want from a review?