Monday, May 20, 2013

Help an Author Out — Leave a Review, Please!

Five stars or no stars?

By Stacy S. Jensen

One of my goals after Pikes Peak Writers Conference is to write more. Not my own work really, but short snippets that are published almost instantly.

My declaration: I will write more book reviews.

Why? I know they make a difference, especially for indie authors. Several faculty and conference attendees emphasized this during the conference. I heard them.

If I get a referral for a book — by blog or by an online friend — I read the reviews. I decide my purchases with review, so I should participate in this process more. So, why have I not written more reviews recently?

A mental evaluation of my reading list points to one book. Several months ago, I saw an online friend’s request to read her new release and share a review.  “Certainly,” I thought as I grabbed a copy for my Kindle and began reading. The story fell flat. I didn’t like the characters. I couldn’t finish the book.

For this book, I looked up the reviews and found fellow reviewers had already shared my “problems” with the book. While the author honestly reviews books on her own blog, I didn’t write a review for her book. The main reason: I didn’t finish it.

Fortunately, I’ve found that to not be the norm of the books friends have suggested. As I write this, I have two books on my Kindle that deserve reviews. They are engaging, have unique characters, and a story that makes me read (even when I don’t have time for it).

I’ve heard many cons to writing reviews. If it’s a bad review, you may tick off an author or an agent. That’s fair. It’s important to remember that online reviews leave a digital trail of who you are, so you need to be fair, honest, and willing to live with what you say.

A personal pet peeve is a reviewer who trashes a book because the story wasn’t what he or she thought it was going to be. If you like sci-fi thrillers, don’t buy a romance book and then be angry it wasn’t a sci-fi thriller. You know you’ve seen those reviews.

So read more books and write more reviews. It will help an author out for print books, digital books and storybook apps.

What’s your philosophy on reading or writing reviews? Have you written one lately?

About the Author: Stacy S. Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and toddler.


  1. You know, for me Goodreads is a personal record-keeping of the books I've read and what I thought about them. As a writer, I'm careful not to destroy a book or author, but I'm going to be honest in a review too. On the other hand, I won't review on Amazon unless I've truly enjoyed a book and can be positive.

  2. As a reader, I always appreciate honest reviews.

  3. Time drives my fondness for the 32 page picture book! I consume them like bon-bons from the candy box and review the special ones that pique my interest.

    Sadly the novels I also love tend to languish on my nightstand because I have so little uninterrupted reading time!

    1. Craft and picture books have taken up much of my time too. The last book I reviewed on Amazon was a picture book.

  4. Happy Birthday to both you and Enzo!
    I just came back from BRMCWC where someone said that book reviews are gold for authors. Well, yes and no. Good reviews are gold -- nasty reviews are lumps of coal. Notice I didn't say negative reviews. I said "nasty" reviews.
    As an author, I "get" that not everyone is going to love my book. Even some of my friends and family members won't like my books. (I wish everyone loved my novels, but that's just wishful thinking.)
    But ... just because you don't like a book doesn't mean that you have to attack the author or be judgmental. Say what you didn't like about the book -- and leave it at that.
    And, if I can't find anything I like about a book, I don't say anything at all.
    (Remember that old adage: If you can't say anything nice ...)
    The other thing I've learned is that a reviewer can rave about a book and then still give it 3 stars. That doesn't make sense to me, but hey, it makes sense to that reviewer. So the whole star system? It's subjective too. Some reviewers toss 5 stars around. Some reviewers never give 5 stars. Some reviewers seem to delight in giving 1 or 2 stars.
    Do I read books?
    Not as much as I used to since I started writing books. (I want to read books, but deadlines demand time.)
    Do I write reviews?
    Yes ... more than I used to, but still not for every book I read.

    1. Beth, Thanks for the published author's perspective on reviews.

  5. I've always been a big reader, but writing a review was never something I did. I don't know why. I think I always considered reviews to be written by the "pros" ie NYT book review or something. :) I'm still not comfortable writing reviews, but I'm working on it!

    1. Coleen, I grew up thinking it was only "reviewers" who could write a book review. The world has certainly changed in the last decade.

  6. I tend to only review books I can really be genuinely enthusiastic about. I know how hard it is to write a book, so I don't like to say negative things. Plus, just because I didn't like a book doesn't mean it won't appeal to other readers :)

    1. Susanna, I agree that enthusiasm is a great motivator!

  7. Nice post. I like reviewing books to help other authors. I think I'd tend to sign up to review a book I think I'd like a lot. I wish I could read faster though. Here is my recent review of Gail Storey's "I Promise Not to Suffer." I posted on Amz too. Highly recommended!

    1. That looks like a wonderful memoir. I love books that you can't put down. I have a few of those on my kindle and look forward to the time to read them.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.