Why it’s important to review books you love

This is one book I’ll never forget

When it comes right down to it, the thing that drew most of you to this blog, the thing that convinced you to start writing, was most likely a love of books.

We all have books we’re passionate, both well known and almost unknown. I have at some point been touched deeply by books from every genre, but the genres that have impacted me most deeply are fantasy, YA and science fiction, particularly dystopian fiction.

Some of the books I love are immensely popular: The GiverHarry Potter, The Chrysalids, The Hunger Games, several books by Terry Pratchett.

Other books I love have been written by little known authors, like Lady of Hay or An Unstill Life (now out of print). How popular a book is has nothing to do with how much I enjoyed it. I can list quite a few popular books I didn’t enjoy much, but I won’t bother. That’s not what I’d like to talk about today.

I’d like to talk to you about those little known authors whose books you love. 

A great many of those writers are struggling. Struggling to make a name for themselves, struggling to make a living–or even enough to go out for dinner a couple times a month–from their writing. They might write the most amazing novel you’ve ever read, but without good word of mouth, making a living as a writer is nigh on impossible.

Which means it’s your duty to review the books you truly love, especially when they’re written by an unknown author. 

You don’t have to start a book review blog. You can do a quick review on Amazon and Goodreads and go on your merry way, but the more reviews a book has, and the higher its rating, the more likely it is that the author will make real money from the books you love.

With the sheer number of small presses and self published authors flooding the market with new books every day, book bloggers are always pressed for time. Even the best authors struggle to get reviews, because there are so many different authors competing for each spot on every book blog.

Most people who enjoy a book won’t take the time to review it, but every person who leaves a positive review is helping build an author’s career.

As a writer, you have a vested interest in the success of other authors and the publishing industry as a whole. You should be more eager than anyone to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads–or both–when you really love a book for two reasons:

1) Supporting small presses and lesser known authors helps ensure that you’ll have many different publishing options in the future. There are hundreds of small presses, which means that there are hundreds of opportunities for you to get published, but it also means there are hundreds of voices to compete with. Small presses rarely have even a fraction of the marketing budget big presses do, which means they’re even more reliant on word of mouth marketing and the reviews they get on Amazon and Goodreads.

We might all daydream about getting published by Random House or one of the other massive publishers, but realistically, the vast majority of us are going to get published by small presses or eventually choose to self publish. That means we should be eager to support small presses and self published authors so the people who make those things possible can continue making a living.

2) In the book world, karma is real. Small press and self published authors tend to be among the friendliest people on the planet. Over the years I’ve interviewed dozens of small press and self published authors, and they’ve all been a pleasure to work with.

If you write a glowing review for a book you love and the author isn’t particularly popular, chances are you can make a friend by sending them the review and telling them how much you adore their work. Now you’ve made a connection, and someday when you also have a book to publish, you can do cross promotions.

You might also bump up the book’s rating, which often means bumping up its sales.

Support authors and small presses you love and they’re a lot more likely to stay around long enough for you to enjoy the publishing and networking opportunities they provide.

Do you review books you love? Why or why not?

16 thoughts on “Why it’s important to review books you love

    • dlgunn

      That’s an excellent goal.

      The one unfortunate thing about working for Musa is that I can’t actually review any of our books–after all, it would seem biased–but they’re all so good! But there are always other ways to help authors, some of which I’m going to talk about in the next few months.

  • Excellent ideas, D. I hope they’ll be heeded. Even when people really like books, they don’t take the time to comment. It would help all of us if they did.
    Posts like this might encourage them to do so.


    • dlgunn

      I’m glad you think it’s a great idea Mary 🙂 Reviews are also a great idea of letting an author know what about their work really stood out to you–what made it memorable enough for you to leave a review.

  • Absolutely agree. Sometimes, especially using a Kindle, I forget because the author’s name escapes me when I go to click on Amazon or Goodreads so I have to do a search etc. Got to do more reviews. Just did one for the Pelican Pointe series. Excellent stuff.

    • dlgunn

      Vonnie, I’m rather bad at remembering author names myself. I do always remember book titles though, and Google can usually tell me the rest.

    • dlgunn

      Hi Terry! It’s great that you go out of your way to review books you love. Every author loves reviews, and every review helps!

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Reviews are SO important! But I admit to not reviewing as much as I should because I feel awkward about reviewing books by writers I know or have associations with. As a professional film reviewer, I feel a responsibility to be honest about my reaction to a piece of work or the review is worthless. Yet because I recognize how important reviews are, especially to small press & self-pubbed authors, I don’t want to do the author a disservice by giving a bad or luke-warm review. And I can’t give everything I read 5 stars or the reviews lose any value. So I tend to shy away from reviewing books by authors I know and they are the ones who probably need the reviews more than anything.

    Thanks for mentioning my book in your post! I’m so glad you liked it.

    • dlgunn

      Hi Kate — I think a lot of authors are in the same boat as you, hesitant to review books by people they already know & like. Which is part of why I’ll be discussing a few more ways you can help those authors promote their books over the next few weeks. Helping other authors market their works keeps the publishers’ doors open and authors happy, and what could be better than that?

      Oh, and “liked” might not be a strong enough word for how I felt about your book 😉

  • A very important post for everyone to read! I try to encourage everyone who tells me they liked my books to review them officially, but they tell me they’re too busy or they feel awkward or no one will read their review. Your post explains extremely well why a review is important!

    • dlgunn

      Hi Linda! One thing you can tell those people is that while it’s true not a lot of people are likely to read the review, EVERYBODY pays attention to the star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads, so just rating a book can be helpful. Leaving a short review with that rating is even better, of course.

  • Ann Ellison

    I count it a privilege to be able to leave reviews for those books I have really enjoyed. No matter what you do in life, it is nice to know that someone has appreciated it. It doesn’t take that long to leave a review, and hopefully it helps the author to find new readers.

    • dlgunn

      Hi Ann! Thanks for sharing your perspective. I’ve never really thought about reviews as a privilege before–I usually think them more as a “Thank you” to the author for sharing such a great story.

  • Excellent article; great points and right to the heart of all struggling authors. I’ve reviewed a few books. I’ve got a couple more on my hands now I’ve come across via author launch parties, and will endeavor to read/review them ASAP. I will always make the effort if called upon to do so.

    • dlgunn

      Glad you enjoyed the article!

      I stopped accepting review requests a while back because I don’t like feeling “forced” to read a book, but I’m always happy to review a book I enjoyed.

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