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 Giver, Harry 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?