This will be a mixture of thoughts on the matter of book reviews – how they help authors and readers.
Anyone who had read any self-published book has probably seen the ‘mandatory’ ending along the lines “please rate and leave a review, it helps the author.” One of my random thoughts was that reviews helping the author is just a side-effect and the main purpose of a review is to help other readers find out whether the book is something they want to read, or not. The mentioned side effect is that they help filter the wrong readers.
Now, I understand (even though not first-hand yet) that there are direct benefits of ratings and reviews for authors. There’s some entry barrier into Amazon’s also bought system and eventually the recommendation newsletter – for which it needs to know what type of readers are interested in a given book and then recommend the book to readers with similar tastes. I believe some ad providers need a minimum amount of reviews and/or ratings as well.
Hence, reviews are the work of mouth self-published authors mention so often. It’s clear that it helps them to find the right readers. Yet, I still think that a review helps fellow readers more than the author. Why? The author will maybe read my review once (if even) while there might be several fellow readers who have a look at the reviews and use to decide whether a book is a good fit for them.
Of course, the more detailed a review, the better base for making a decision. Yes, it’s possible to filter readers with keywords (for people hating love triangles, all they need to see in a review is a mention that the book contains them) but some other aspects might not be as simple to reveal.
What I want to say is this: even though a blurb might make the book look like something I’d like to read, there might be something that’ll make it poor fit for me: narrative style, some cliché or archetype I’m not fond of, far too slow beginning, anything that comes to your mind. Those things are something reviews can show – and give you more to base your decision on.
Which gets me right back to the beginning: a good review can help with filtering out the readers who wouldn’t enjoy a book – which benefits the readers and the author alike.
Closing thought: I wonder if readers would be more likely to leave a review if authors said it helps other readers instead/in addition to saying it helps them. There are many authors who are readers but few readers who are also authors and some aspects of this might be hidden to them. Why not say it in a way that’s closer to the readers instead of saying it helps the authors when the reader probably doesn’t know (and maybe doesn’t care) how exactly it helps the author?
That’s it from me for today. Feel free to share your thoughts, whether you’re an author, a reader, or both.