It feels like being back at school. You read a book and then somebody expects you to write a bloody review about it.
What a pain.
But in the post-internet world, where everybody has a point of view, these reviews count. They have value. A worth that goes far beyond 100 words on a page.
Let me explain.
On Amazon, readers choose books based on recommendations. Look at how you buy a new book from on unknown author on the site. You probably know the genre you are interested in reading. Let's say its ferret breeding. Then you check all the writers who have published books on that subject. Amazon will come up with a list (more on this later). You check the reviews of each book and you probably choose the one with the most favourable reviews.
It's one of the reasons Amazon is such an amazing resource for book buyers. You've made an assumption that the reviews are real. Most of them are now. Amazon has been pretty successful at quashing paid for reviews.
For books, some of the reviews come from free ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) provided by the publishers. This may sound dodgy but it isn't. Most reviewers insist that their reviews will be honest and unbiased before they accept the book. Amazingly, most are. Book reviewers and book bloggers are the great unpaid workers of the publishing industry.
For the author, these reviews are important. After he or she has received 20-25 reviews, Amazon includes the book in the 'also bought' or 'you might like' list on each book's page. This increases the book's visibility and its sales.
After 50-70 reviews, Amazon includes the book in its spotlight position, and on its newsletter to regular buyers. A massive boost to an author's reputation and market.
And of course it's a virtuous circle, the more people review the book, the more people are likely to review the book, increasing visibility even more.
But for me, that's all very pragmatic.
I think there are two other reasons for writing a review. Firstly, because you enjoyed the book. A writer spends most of the time on their own, putting words from their head down onto paper. It's a solitary profession. It's nice to let them know all the hard work was worth it,
And the second reason is to help them become better. We all improve by standing on the shoulders of giants, learning from other people is how we become more skilled. It's how we learn and how we teach.
So tell an author what you think of his book.
Write a review.
It will only take a few minutes of your time. but it will give an author hours of pleasure (or dread). And even help other readers discover their work.
Thank you in advance for your review.