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Why Book Reviews Matter | A Litertarian's Opinion | The Litertarian
A book review is so standard in the bookish world that it can sometimes feel arbitrary to spend the time, attention, and energy writing one just to add to the toppling mounds of book reviews on every website that has anything to do with books. So why does everyone write them? And should you? Why do book reviews matter? This blog post is my answer to those questions, but in short, YES, you should write book reviews too. Book reviews are the lifeblood of the book industry in multiple ways. They’re good for the readers, they’re good for the writers, and they’re good for the authors and publishing houses. It’s a win win win! But let’s take a closer look at why… Readers Between a half million and a million books are published on a yearly basis in the USA alone. That is more books in one year than a single person can read in a lifetime (though I hope there is an exception to this! Do you exist, million book reader?). While it is always fun to discover books organically while browsing through a store, or website even, one of the most valuable tools we have at our disposal to pick new book that we are likely to enjoy are reviews. They give us the opportunity to hear from the people who have already read a book, readers just like us, so it feels like you can trust them. Book reviews give us a chance to decide which books we want to seek out, which to possibly give a second chance, and, on most platforms, we even have the chance to discuss the book with people who have read them too. With almost 130 million books to currently choose from, book reviews can give old or obscure books a voice, they can launch or aid an author’s career, and they can bring us readers closer together. #soultribe Book Reviewers I have always loved writing about the books I’ve read. It gives me a chance to really reflect and put my feelings about them into words. When you are rereading what you’ve written about a book, the feelings and details start to come back to you in a way that they never will from the synopsis alone. I love to reread books myself, and my own book reviews are a great tool to remind me of which ones I want to spend more time with. They can serve as little notes to your future self! I started my first book blog in 2010 as a kind of reading journal. It was a record of everything I’d read (it can be hard to remember all of them sometimes, especially when you lend heavily from the library & don’t religiously use a website like Goodreads). I can’t tell you how much joy having those reviews means to me, let alone the hundreds and thousands of people they have reached. They can also give you a greater sense of purpose in the book community, and can connect you with a lot of like-minded readers! Reading is generally a solitary activity, as any story you read is actually taking place in your head. But book reviews are where the book nerds come together to geek out about their favorite reads, and they’re a cornerstone of the entire publishing/literary industry. Authors Last, but not least, we cannot forget how much book reviews matter to authors. One of the universal truths of marketing is that word of mouth recommendations are gold. You have to do some promotion to get the first (couple) wave(s) of people on board with whatever your project may be, a book, a movie, an event, a new product… But if the folks in the first wave of consumers are satisfied enough with what you’re selling, they’ll start to sell it for you by sharing their good experience with the people they know. A good book review is exactly that – word of mouth marketing. Why do you think publishers send out free books for review?! We all know that social media sites and web pages are fueled by complicated algorithms, and for books, those algorithms are looking at the overall rating and the total number of book reviews any given book has. The more reviews & higher the rating, the better it ranks on their site. That means it will be suggested to users more often, and generally gives it much more visibility. Visibility equals organic sales. For smaller and indie authors, this means everything. I also imagine it is nice for an author to be able to open up a review of their book and have a direct line of feedback to what readers thought of their book. Feedback, whether languorously long or short and sweet, can be a helpful tool to learn and improve their writing. I started my first review blog for me. To remember the books I read and what I thought about them, and I also thought it’d be fun to share them in a place other people may stumble across them. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve come to simply from a review I happened across. They matter. And that’s why even though the content of my blog is shifting focus, I will never stop posting book reviews. Because in this industry, it’s fundamental. If you’re a reviewer, like me, then consider your words carefully. Write something honest. Write down the things that made the biggest impressions on you, the feelings you had as you read. These are things that cannot be captured in a book blurb, and invaluable for your fellow readers. Perhaps a plot doesn’t sound like something you might read, but when you see that it had a similar tone to another book you loved, you might want to read it! Keep reading, my friends, but don’t forget to write about it too!