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Why You Should Write An Honest Book Review

Author Annette Youngby Annette Young

Do you enjoy a riveting read? Do you love settling down with a good book and whiling away a few hours? If so, do you know just how important it is to write a book review once you have finished reading? Whether you loved it, hated it, or, are just plain indifferent, your views count. If you are not a writer, then you won’t have a full appreciation of the energy, dedication and drive that goes into writing a novel or, a non-fiction book. The author has to be totally committed to the end project, it’s a tough job even if the writers who go on to achieving their dreams of publication, love the written word.

In this digital age, there are now millions more books out there. That’s great from a reader’s perspective but it makes it tough for a good writer to progress up the rankings of those publishers such as Amazon or Smashwords. Many people think that a good book will always do well, but, it’s not the case. Even the most dedicated of readers cannot hope to trawl through the thousands of books in any particular genre. People always tend to look at the top of the list, and let’s be honest, how far do you think about scrolling down? You may be happy to read a book from an unknown author, but you may be more confident investing in a book by someone who is well-known and who has manged to transcend the ranks. The books that are lower down the rankings may be absolute gems, but it’s possible and likely, that the author doesn’t know how to market their book, doesn’t have the time to do so, or, does not have the funds for a professional marketing campaign.

This is where the book review comes in. Your opinion counts. It doesn’t matter if you are reading the book and really struggling to get into it, nor does it matter if you couldn’t care less if you ever see that author’s name again, you are entitled to explain your views and to help others make an informed decision about buying the book or not. The number of reviews are so important, they help the author to sell more books, they enable the author to promote their books more on certain sites because some won’t accept books with minimal or no reviews. Hence the importance of an honest book review by you.

I would always recommend an honest but  not cutting review. You may have seen some highly personal and derogatory comments by readers about an author’s books or worse, comments made directly about the author, there’s no need for that. If anything, it shows the reviewer up as being particularly unpleasant. But analysing why you liked or disliked a book can be useful for the author too.  Let’s say you read a book by a new author and enjoyed it, but, you noticed there were numerous spelling or grammatical mistakes, you can mention that in the review. For example; ‘ Great book but I did notice quite a few spelling mistakes which became a little distracting.’ If the writer has any professional pride, they will very quickly make some serious edits to the book before uploading it again ready for republishing. Perhaps you found the characters were not very realistic or the story-line just dragged on and on, you can make your point. It’s your opinion.

I hate giving bad reviews myself but I am always honest. I understand the hard work that has gone into writing a book so my reviews are never about making the author feel bad. I may say:

  • I did not feel a connection with the characters
  • I felt that their actions were unbelievable
  • The opening chapter was a bit weak but the book picked up the pace later
  • The ending was very obvious
  • The writing was repetitive in places
  • It was well-written but the story-line was not really engaging enough

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel a connection with other writers. I know how tough it is to work so hard on a project and then to have  a review that is more than a little upsetting. When I had my first books published, I lived in fear of a bad book review. My first ‘less than glowing review’ was extremely upsetting, I couldn’t believe how the reader could have failed to notice that I sweated blood and tears while writing it, but when I have compared that review to those received by other authors, I realised I got away lightly. Some people sadly enjoy the power of giving poor reviews, but honest ones would be welcomed by most authors.

You may think that most readers will leave reviews but I had a conversation with a friend recently who is an avid reader and she told me that she never comments on books if she doesn’t like them. I was horrified by this. A writer – whether the book was well-received or not – deserves to have some feedback. Out of courtesy, the book review should also be written in an honest but not unkind manner. A well-written book review is really useful for the author and as much as we all want readers to sing our praises and say we are the best writer in the world (or something like that) we know that writing is a craft and we never stop learning, so sometimes, a less than glowing review can be useful.

The main thing to remember is this:

  • If you liked the book – say so
  • If you would read more books by this author – then tell the world
  • If you didn’t like the book – say why
  • If you noticed any terrible mistakes – point them out

But do not, under any circumstances think it’s acceptable to vent a personal attack on the author.

A book review really is so important and it can make a huge difference to the book becoming popular and being found or, languishing way down at the bottom of the rankings. So you can see that your opinion really does count.


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