applauseI can’t count the number of times a reader as e-mailed, texted, messaged, called, or used another means of communication to say “Hey, your book was awesome!” Sometimes I ask them to post a review if they are a fellow author, or I know they have reviewed other things. If they’re not I just wait and see what happens. Most of the time, they don’t post a review anywhere.

Why review? Reviewing is a great way to let your friends know what you are reading, and get them talking about what you are talking about. How do you think that Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code got to be all the water cooler talk? Reviews, and friends telling friends. (Besides Christians decrying its harmful effects on our culture, but that’s another story for another time). If you found something enjoyable, thought provoking, or just a read you couldn’t put down, share that with as many people as you can. An easy way to do that is to review: on Goodreads, Amazon, and elsewhere.

Reviewing sells books. “I’m a reader and you are an author,” you say. “Why do I care about selling books?” Because if the author you like sells more books, it frees up their time from working as a waitress at a truck stop to write more books. Hopefully you will like (and review) those books too. So on the cycle goes, until your favorite author is able to write for a living. Thus, more good books.

What if the book is bad? Should I review? This is a tough one. As an author, I want to say “No! Only good reviews.” However, as a reader (yes, authors are readers first) you have to ask yourself why you didn’t like the book. Did you just not like the genre or the authors writing style? Then my answer would still be “no.”

However, if the book is poorly edited, has a storyline that just doesn’t work, someone needs to tell the author or publisher, even if they are one and the same. You can do this by contacting the author (if that is possible) or by leaving an honest review. If you are going to be negative, try to include some positive, and state clearly the reasons why you left a negative review.

Don’t ‘Revenge Review.’ I have one negative review on Amazon for my book Redemption. It was written by someone who gave it a five star review, then disliked something I said on social media, and then dropped the review to a one star. If you are going to review, be professional about it. That person had a review site: their credibility as a reviewer is shot now (I wasn’t the only one they did this to). Be polite and kind the same as you would in any other social situation, as if the author was standing right in front of you.

In a sense, they are. They are waiting with breath held as you read, waiting to hear what you think. Okay, maybe not really. They are probably writing. But hearing good things encourages them. Sometimes that’s all they need to make their day, and keep writing.

Meanwhile keep reading. Know that we as authors appreciate you, even if you don’t write a review.