Book reviews are an important aspect of publishing. Good reviews help with visibility, pique curiosity, and encourage hesitant readers to pick up a copy of a book.
Reading reviews is also a great way to feel encouraged, see the excitement your work generates, hear from your readers, get some feedback, take in some constructive criticism, and get inspired to write your next book. A lot of work often goes into a well-written review, so they can be enjoyable to read, too, even if it can be nerve-wracking to see a response to your work.
With that, we advise the following: don’t get caught up in bad reviews. Everyone will receive a one- or two-star review from time to time. Some bad reviews are in good faith, offering constructive criticism and sometimes even helpful advice, however, and though they may be hard to stomach, can offer good insight into an individual reader’s experience. As with any public sphere, review sites, book blogs, and social media are going to show you a wide range of responses from your readers! But bad reviews aren’t the end of the world, or the decline of your career.
An oft-overlooked piece of advice regarding book reviews is this: as an author, you are more than welcome to write your own! Don’t neglect the good you can do for another author you admire by reviewing their book online, on social media, or in a magazine or newspaper. If you have the opportunity to review another author’s book, don’t pass it up. You may be a writer, but you are a reader, too. Plus, writing a review can help you to better understand and appreciate the time and effort that goes into it, and it can be a great exercise in thinking critically and stretching your editorial muscles.
We’ve compiled some advice here from previous blog posts and podcast guests who offer their takes on getting reviews, reacting to reviews, and more!
Book Review Advice
How to survive a bad book review – “The one thing you’ll have to remember as an author with published material out in the world is that all sorts of different people are going to read it, and they’re going to have all sorts of different opinions on it. Art is subjective, and you’re not going to be able please everyone.”– the KWL team
On what a review can do for you – “Reviews provide excellent fodder for an author’s marketing materials and book jacket copy. Laudatory excerpts are eye-catching on press releases, ads, author websites and other marketing opportunities.”– Patti Thorn
How to get book reviews – “Make sure to completely understand the specifications for each review platform before you submit your work. Not every site guarantees you a review, even if there is an application fee. Beware of shady or suspicious review sites that promise positive reviews. No reputable review source makes this claim, as reviewers with integrity evaluate books honestly, based on merit. Most importantly, do not let negative reviews send you into a downward spiral.”– the KWL team
Plus, here are two KWL podcast episodes that discuss the importance of reviews to your author brand and potential book sales:
Book Review Resources
The Indie Author's Guide to Free Reviews from Publisher's Weekly
Indie Reviews, a professional book review service from Kirkus
BlueInk Review, a professional book review service
BookLife and Publisher's Weekly Select, a Kobo-affiliated professional book review service
Whether you are the type of author to read your reviews or ignore them entirely, it makes sense to prepare for reviews either way! Do some research and prepare yourself for the good, the very good, and the bad. And, as always, happy writing!