Finding an Audience Part 3: The Importance of Reviews

Good writers are also voracious readers and loyal fans. We all have our own favorite authors, those people whose work inspires us to be better. So we all know the importance of finding an audience, not just from the writer’s side of the equation, but from the reader’s side, too. How often have you stumbled upon an amazing new writer and thought to yourself: Why did I not know about her before now?

Think about how you tend to find new books and new authors. It’s possible that you go to the library or bookstore and just pull books off the shelves until you find something that looks promising, but more likely you find your way to new books through word of mouth, in one form or another. We’ve all heard the old adage about not judging books by their covers, but at the end of the day, when people are looking for new books, they’re more likely to judge them by the recommendations of other people. That’s why one of the very best things that any reader can do to help their favorite writers find an audience is to talk about their work. Reviews are hugely important to writers, whether they’re on Amazon, Goodreads, or just on your own blog.

Book reviews get writers more visibility, and also help build credibility, and leaving a review doesn’t cost you a dime. (After all, you bought the book already, right?) Reviews are more than just promotion, though. They help people find the right books for them by giving them insights into what they can expect from the book, what they might like or dislike, etc.

Of course, we all want all of the reviews that we get to be good ones, five stars, thumbs up, and so on. But something to keep in mind is that, when it comes to reviews, there really is no such thing as bad publicity, and even bad reviews can help readers find your books who might otherwise have missed them. While a one star review that just says “This book is dumb and so are you” may not be very helpful, negative reviews can still have positive benefits for authors. As Kameron Hurley recently mentioned on Twitter, certain kinds of negative reviews can sell a lot of books. If a person or group you strongly disagree with absolutely hates a book, then you may see their review and think, “Wow, odds are if they hated it that much, I’ll probably love it!”

Another thing that helps authors to find audiences is having books included on Goodreads lists. Goodreads lists can be great places to find your next favorite book, since they’re curated groupings of books along some particular line, whether that’s “best horror novels of the year” or “books with unicorns on the cover.” So whatever kind of book you’re into at the moment, you can find a Goodreads list that will help you discover a new book from a new author that you may not ever have encountered otherwise.

So for writers and readers alike, reviews and lists can have a huge impact on finding the right audience. And of course, once you’ve found them, you can help make sure they keep coming back with a dynamite author website from Clockpunk Studios!

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