March 21, 2019

Be a Reviewer

By Chris Pepple, Writer-At-Large, Southern Writers Magazine

What is it that we all need? Well, honestly, there’s not just one thing. The list is long for some of us. We need more time, more money, more rest, etc. But most newly published authors will agree that along with everything else on the list, we need more reviews of our work. Reviews drive new readers to our books.

I know what you are already asking: how do I get more reviews for a new book? There’s no easy answer to that. Some authors give away free copies and ask the readers to write an honest review. Other authors ask friends and family members to write reviews. Those are great ideas, but we can only give away so many books free. Begging on social media isn’t very effective, so what’s left?

I’ve decided that being a reviewer myself helps our writing community be stronger even if it doesn’t always mean that I will quickly get reviews of my own. It’s a gift we can give other authors trying to reach new audiences. No, this isn’t a guarantee that anyone will review your book in return. However, if each of us gets into the habit of reviewing new books, we are setting the example for others as we encourage new authors. Look at authors’ Amazon pages and Goodreads book pages and see who could use a review. If the book isn’t in your budget, see if you can find a cheaper version—an e-book maybe or a library copy. If you can’t find a copy in your budget, don’t be shy about asking the author if you can borrow a copy in exchange for an honest review. Never hurts to ask.

After you write the review, let the author know. Tag them on social media if you don’t know them personally. Send them a link to your review via e-mail if you have their address. Also, tag other readers and remind them how easy it can be to review a book. Don’t be shy about ending with a request for someone to review yours.

If we start the trend, hopefully other readers will follow. Reviewing a book (or a podcast or an art showing or a restaurant) can be quick and painless. We don’t have to write paragraphs about anything. Filling in the rating (usually choosing a star rating) and writing two sentences about why we liked or disliked it can really make a difference. Try to write one review a month to stay in the habit and to hopefully spark an interest in other readers.

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