The best thing you can do for a writer to show your appreciation for their work (aside from buying their book) is to write a review of it when you’re done reading. A writer’s sales can be greatly affected by the number of reviews a book has (as well as by what the reviews say).
But what if the reader is also a writer?
I struggle with this question a lot. As a writer, should I be posting reviews of books I read on the internet?
As a writer, I’m in a unique position to evaluate a story. I understand plot, character development, theme, scene construction… I know how it can work and how it can go wrong.
On the other side, as a reader, I have a valid opinion about the quality of a story and if it worked for me.
If I Like a Book
If I like a book, I want to support the author of it by writing a positive review in hopes of getting them more sales. More sales may mean more books from that author down the line which means more enjoyment for me.
Writers sometimes receive criticism for writing reviews for books written by their friends. It throws doubt on the truthfulness of the review. Is it really an honest review or is it just a writer helping out a friend?
To be honest, this criticism can apply to a reader as well. If the reader knows the author of the book, are they writing an honest review or just helping out a friend?
There’s no way to know really. The best you can do is to evaluate the review. Is it only glowing compliments or is it a realistic portrayl of the good and bad in the book?
In the situation where I like a book, I’m inclined to write a review for it, even if the author of the book is a friend or acquaintance of mine.
Yes, I want to support them. I also want the world to support them by buying their book. (So they keep writing and I get to read more of their books. Win for me!)
If I Don’t Like a Book
The opposite side of the spectrum is what happens when I don’t like a book I read.
There are a lot of reasons a book may not work for me. I may not like the writing style, the particular tropes the author used, the characters, etc. Maybe it was just not the kind of story I wanted to read today. But what doesn’t work for me, may be someone else’s favorite kind of writing.
Do I write a negative review?
When a writer writes a negative review of a book, the review itself can garner a lot of criticism. It can be seen as deliberately sabotaging another writer, as petty, as vindictive, as just bad manners.
What do I do then if I don’t like a book?
I personally don’t want to write a negative review of another writer’s work. I know how hard it is to write a story and put it out there for the world to love or hate.
Instead, if I come across a story that I don’t like or don’t finish, I’m going to just quietly put it down and move on.
For books I love? I’m going to recommend them here and post them around the web on review sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Writers need all the encouragement they can get to keep writing and positive reviews are a fantastic form of encouragement.
Think Reviewing is Hard?
Reviewing can be super easy. A review only needs to be a line or two that focuses on what you enjoyed about the story.
Were the characters interesting? Did the plot keep you turning the pages? Did you like the ending? Do you want to read more from the author?
That’s all you need to say.
Now I’m off to write some reviews for some books that I’ve LOVED and that I think you’ll love too.