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What Book Reviews Are Really For


Some publishers and authors think book reviews are there to help them sell books.

Some reviewers think they are there to either make them look smart, or feel powerful when they rip a writer’s work to pieces.

But, put simply: book reviews are there to help readers find books they will like.That’s it.

Spoilers, flame outs, or claiming “this is the best book ever” aren’t particularly helpful. When I’m on Amazon I generally bypass the 5-star and 1-star reviews altogether. The more thoughtful ones are normally in the 3-star or 4-star section. They tell you what’s good about the book, what could have been better, and let you know other titles the story is similar too. The phrase “If you liked x, then you’ll like this…” is one of my favourites.

As an author, I’ve come to consider these the ‘real’ reviews and would much rather receive something considered, than a throwaway line either blowing smoke, or setting my work on fire. As a reader, these kinds of reviews are an insight into which titles I’m happy to take a chance on and dedicate some precious time to.

Next time you’re writing a review, keep the humble reader in mind. As with any form of public writing, it’s about the audience first and you a very distant second.

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