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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reviews: The Bread & Butter of Indie Authors

How often do you write a review for the books you read? If you do, where do you post them? Do you manage a personal blog for reviews, or do you share them on Amazon & GoodReads, etc?
How much do you rely on reviews on those websites for a book you want to purchase? Do negative reviews influence your purchasing decisions for books?

Before I became an author, I was an avid reader (still am). But in my hectic life, I didn’t get around to writing a review about a book I loved. Definitely a shame. In fact, I was one of those readers who only posted a review if the book irritated me. As a way to ward off other readers from purchasing the book and feeling the same way. Honestly, I didn’t write that many negative reviews at all. But it was the only time I felt compelled to write one.
Now as an author, I realized my method of writing reviews was completely wrong.
Positive reviews were far more powerful than any negative one I ever wrote. I should have written many more to thank the author for such an awesome and compelling story.
Little did I know at the time that was the best way to thank an author.
For Indie authors like myself, getting our name out there is extremely difficult, especially with so many other awesome writers out there. It’s hard to set ourselves apart. Don’t get me wrong, I love that there are so many incredible stories and characters out there. It’s never been a better time for readers. Each book you pick up is more and more likely to amaze you. You have so many ‘favorite’ authors in your book piles now.
The coveted 5 Star review

But how can we entice readers to pick up a book written by an unknown author?
The resounding answer I keep getting is:

Theoretically speaking, the more reviews a book has, the more likely a reader is willing to buy it (trusting the positive reviews.) Therefore, the more it plays into Amazon’s secret algorithm for visibility. The more reviews, the more 3rd party promotional sites are willing to display your covers. The better placement novels get on website rankings such as B&N Nook, iBooks, etc. Thereby equating to more sales. Then generating more reviews on top of it. It's a beautiful circle.
I’m not going to touch on Amazon’s new review policy or the controversy around it, because that’s a whole monster on its own.
But I want to hear from you. How much stock do you put on reviews? Are there some sites you trust more than others for reviews?

Let me know your thoughts.

Susan Sheehey writes romantic suspense, contemporary romance, and women's fiction. Her latest series features royals on the run, in Royals of Solana. Water plays a crucial element in all of her stories, and she's a strong advocate for Autism Awareness and acceptance. Forced to give up Diet Coke, she now functions on massive amounts of french vanilla coffee. Susan lives and laughs in Texas with her husband and two boys. Follow her at, as well as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


  1. What a great photo of you! I have to echo your excellent post. As a reader, I never left a review or even knew I should. Many readers use reviews as a guide to purchasing books. I go by the blurb and the cover.

  2. A timely post, given what is going on with Amazon. I've rarely posted reviews myself, although I certainly appreciate it when others post for *my* books. :-) In fact, I had been writing books for years before posting reviews became "a thing." For some reason, I always figured it was bad business for authors to be posting reviews, good or bad, for other authors. .... Even though almost all authors are readers.

  3. Great post! I can't believe the number of reviews some authors have. I wish I had a fourth of them on my books. No matter how much I talk about how important reviews are in my newsletter and on my FB page I can't seem to get people to leave reviews though they will email and say they loved the book. Then I ask them to leave a review but never see it.

  4. I wish readers would post more reviews. I think there are several reasons why they don't. Personally, I never post a review if I can't wholeheartedly give a positive review. Reading taste is very subjective. Also, sometimes the individual elements are good, but putting it all together falls flat.

  5. Amazon's policy makes it hard for writers as for awhile it was no writer should do one for someone else's book. I just read now that they say they can't do a negative one for a competing book. Confusing. And worse if you violate their policy, even unknowingly, they can threaten you with being kicked off Amazon totally, which is why a lot of authors stay off reviewing.

    I do reviews now and then but only when they will be 4 stars or more. I figure when I didn't like a book, it might've just been me.

    The other thing that frustrates me with their policy is you are not supposed to reward a reviewer in anyway. When I have a beta reader, I like to give them a small gift certificate. It's not for them doing a review but for the work they did. Now I feel it's unsafe to do it because they might also review the book.

    I agree totally though how much reviews are appreciated. They mean a lot that a reader took the time to write a sentence on what they felt. I don't get a lot of reviews; so each one is treasured.

  6. I enjoyed your post. As a writer I definitely appreciate reviews and wish I had more. As a reader, I occasionally post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads but only for books I enjoyed. I don't post negative reviews. However, when considering whether or not to buy a book, I read both the 5-star and 1-star write-ups. Why? Because there are some things that will turn me off when reading a story (lots of grammatical errors, unbelievable plot twists, etc.) I may decide to buy the book anyhow, but the reviews let me know what to expect.
    By the way, LOVE the tiara in your terrific photo.

  7. So true! Well said! We both had the wrong idea. Today it's so much easier to post a review and it's not about retelling the whole story. Heck, no! Just tell what you liked. The unique plot? The very real characters? The edge of your seat conflict? Share so others can read it, too.


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