Hello my fellow readers. This rant is for you! I try to address writers often, but of course I myself am an avid reader and of course as I writer I write for readers, so I thought I mist address an issues that helps both writers and readers, but readers most of all: reviews.

Reviews are hard to get. That’s the first thing to understand. I’m not sure why, I’ve always tried to review a book I’ve read because I’ve always known how it helps other readers and writers. So why do people generally not leave reviews? Typically, people only feel compelled to write a review when they have strong feelings. If they super-loved it or super-hated it. But the hate is usually what propels people, read Yelp reviews sometime and you’ll understand. So you’re most likely to give a review when you absolutely hate a book (luckily it’s fairly rare) and rarely when you love it.

Three star reviews are best, even though they usually indicate a ‘meh’ or “I merely liked it a little,” reaction. If you go onto Amazon and look at any and all products, look at just the three star reviews. After a while you’ll notice a common turned: three star reviewers tend to list, succinctly, the good and bad points of any product, including books. A good “life hack” for shopping is to only look at three star reviews to see the good and bad of something, as they tend to be the most honest and trustworthy. And yet, the least likely to appear.

Readers need reviews. How do you select a new author or series to read? In bookstores or libraries you can look at recommendations from an employee, and generally read the first chapter or two and decide. But shopping online means you depend on reviews. Most readers tend to look at the aggregate review (the one first posted with the picture of the stars filled into the level of the average review). Some people judge only that, some judge only 3 star reviews (as I’ve suggested), and some only look at the one and five star reviews for extreme opinions. Lastly, when there are many reviews, some only look at the reviews voted most helpful. What do they have in common? All prospective readers select new books to read with reviews.

Authors need reviews. Whenever you do a project, be it baking a new type of cookie, painting a table, or creating that spreadsheet your boss is whining about, what the first thing you do when done? You ask for someone else’s opinion. We do that because we become so immersed in something, we can no longer view it objectively. Critics look at the technical aspects, but reader reviews tell us how close to the mark we hit, since readers are who authors write for. And without reader reviews, authors have no clue how their work is being received. Sure, maybe they’re selling many copies, but are those readers likely to come back? Would they recommend the books to others? How will we ever know without reviews?

Readers can help one another, and help authors with minimal effort. It doesn’t have to be long, hard work or inconvenient.  First off, when you finish reading a book, please just quickly go back to it. Check if reviews exist. If there are more than ten reviews, one of the quickest, easiest ways you can help is to vote for the most helpful, and vote for the least helpful. It takes all of one minute and makes a difference.

If there are many reviews, more than ten, just set a policy to read the three star reviews, and vote for the most helpful. If there less than two three-star reviews, or less than ten overall reviews, then you can leave a review yourself.

Leaving a review is a simple process that takes seconds. Simply adopt a structure to reviews. No matter if you feel it should have one star or five, keep this structure. 

A review should contain:
1. A quick summary of any major plot points that are not mentioned in the book’s description
2. A list of the good points of the book (or a quick mention that there were none)
3. A list of the bad points of the book (or a quick mention that there were none)
4. A quick summary of your overall thoughts including who you think the ideal audience for the book is
5. Optional: books you think the one you’re reviewing are similar to

When shopping for a new book, you should adopt a policy for reviews. Look for reviews that have summaries and quick lists. Look for those that show the reviewer actually read the book. Upvote those that that contain that information. Downvote those that don’t, or those that are a mere single sentence and offer no help.

By only posting and using solid reviews, by rating up good reviews, you help fellow readers, and you help fellow writers. Let me end this rant with a solid example. I’ve sold over a thousand copies of Wolf Tales Volume I, but I have yet to garner a single review on any platform. Is it good? Is it shit? I don’t know. I have WTVII planned out, but I don’t feel comfortable writing it until I know there’s an audience that wants it. So please remember, reviews help.