A Letter to Aspiring Book Reviewers A Blog Series

2: The Role of the Book Review:

Authors and publishers want good reviews because good reviews promote sales. Readers want honest reviews because they are looking for the next book to buy. The reader is your audience. As a reviewer it is your job to serve them, not the author and not the publisher, and, in all fairness, not yourself. The reader seeks your guidance. They want to resolve the uncertainty that they feel with their mouse hovering over the “buy” button. They wonder: is this book worth my time and effort and attention? They ask: “Is this a book that is worth reading?” and “Is the experience of reading this book something I will enjoy?” The role of the review, and the task before the reviewer, is to answer those questions.

These are not easy questions to answer. Tastes vary. Will the story touch every readers soul? Will every reader laugh? Will they cry? Will they care about the people in the story? The good news is that it is the authors job to make those things happen. It’s the reviewers job to report on their own experience of the book. In short, it is the reviewers job to guide like-minded readers to the books they will enjoy.

Readers follow the reviewer who points them to “good” books, not the reviewer who steers them clear of “bad” ones. If a reviewer prepares well, and structures their policies with good books as the goal, they will only review good books. They will read some bad ones, but they will only review good ones. That should be your goal—to review only good books. Pass on the bad ones. Don’t muddy the waters. Leave the “bad” reviews to amateurs and the lunatic fringe who troll and snipe. Three to five stars should be your goal. You might think of those stars as reflective of quality—“good” at three starts, “great” at four, and “mind-blowing” at five. By using “good” as your foundation, you’ll preserve your integrity and gather followers more quickly.

You do not have to review every book you are offered, but once you do agree to review a book then you must review it or you risk your integrity. Being able to “pass” on book is one of the reasons I’ve suggested Kindle Unlimited. Read the book, then choose. In time you’ll learn to be circumspect when choosing which novels you read to review. You’ll learn to choose wisely, book by book. I’ll speak about other ways to make choosing books a bit easier for you in a later post, but for now, just remember exactly what it is the reader is asking of you. Remember that they are not asking which books to avoid, they are asking which books they should buy—today. Right now. When you answer that question well, the reader will likely become a follower. Just like any other writer, you’ll gain clout, and increase your influence, and you’ll do it one reader at a time.

-J

Suggestion: Remember that an important goal for a reviewer is to gather followers, who by their very existence will give you clout and influence as a reviewer. Remember that they are your audience. Remember just what it is they are asking of you. What is it that turns readers into followers? Do that and you are on the road to some real success.

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