Be a Force for Good: Review a Book Today!

I’ve written before about my experience with self-publishing and the changes in the publishing industry. The subject continues to fascinate me as a reader and a writer. The world of books is in flux, to say the least, and readers are presented with an overwhelming array of choices. Hardback and paperback, sure. Familiar authors, yes. But now, thanks to the low cost of entry, there are ebooks available from literally thousands of independent, self-published authors in every genre imaginable.

Readers with Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and even smartphones can choose from just about any book in the universe and get it the instant they want it. Many tried and true authors have ebooks available through traditional publishers, and often those range from $10-$14. Because of the costs built into the “legacy” publishing system, as author Joe Konrath calls it, these prices are not that different from paperback versions of the same books.

We indie authors, however, are free to be more flexible with our pricing because we don’t have all the overhead of the Big Guys. We also don’t have the polished editing or the marketing machine of the Big Guys, so the low price is an incentive for readers to sample what we’re offering. We know you’re taking a chance when you buy a book from an indie author, and believe me we’re grateful. I think most of us put a tremendous effort into making sure you don’t regret the decision to choose our books.

But with so many options in the marketplace, how are readers supposed to choose their next book? Here’s the part where you come in. Never before have book reviews by average people been so powerful or so important. It used to be that a staff member at the New York Times (or Oprah) told us all what to read, and their opinions could make or break an author. These days, such high publicity can still make a book, but thanks to online review systems, it can’t always break it.

Readers don’t have to wait for a book to gain widespread distribution or critical acclaim to decide whether they want to read it. They can find books on specialty sites, genre-specific chat rooms, review blogs, etc. And they can turn to their fellow readers for all the information they need to decide whether to purchase a book. That’s you!

Star ratings are great because they give an at-a-glance view of the public’s overall opinion. The numbers next to the rating are an indication of how accurate the star ratings are — the more people have rated a book, the more a reader can trust that the book really does deserve 4.5 stars. If you’re short on time, doing a stars-only rating is great. But if you have a few seconds to add your reasoning for the rating with a review, it really helps potential readers trying to make a decision. It also helps authors connect with the right audiences, and even improve their work for next time.

You don’t have to be a book junkie or seasoned critic to write a great book review. And you certainly don’t have to go on for paragraphs about symbolism and allegory. Just say in a few sentences what you liked (and didn’t) about the book. Positive or negative, the best reviews are specific and honest. If you loved it, what did you love about it? If not, why not? Was it badly written, or just not your cup of tea? This information will help other readers decide whether they want to give it a shot or keep browsing.

As an author, I really appreciate honest reviews because they let me to see what worked and what didn’t in my inaugural effort as a novelist. I like that they help readers who would appreciate what I’ve written to find it. Readers who might not enjoy my style, on the other hand, will not waste their money and end up resenting me for it. It’s a win-win-win!

So exercise your reader power today! If you’ve read a book lately and have an opinion, please take a minute to visit the site where you bought it and rate it for others. You’ll be playing a valuable role in the publishing process and helping authors you enjoy get noticed.

And if said book just happens to be The Marriage Pact, well that’s even better. 🙂

PS – For those who have read TMP, or are considering it, you might enjoy this independent review I stumbled across this week. It’s a great website, too!

MJ Pullen

M.J. Pullen is a Distracted Writer and the mom of two boys in Roswell, Georgia, where she is absolutely late for something important right now. Her books include quirky romantic comedies and playful women's fiction. Join her Distracted Readers newsletter list for updates, free content, giveaways and more.

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