The importance of book reviews

I’m a firm believer that book reviews are important to authors and readers alike. Since writing and publishing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, I’m forever asking my readers to please post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Here’s the link to the post I wrote about reviews last January.

Sydney Avey, my guest today, writes why she thinks book reviews are important, and generously gives a few pointers to those of you who have never written a review before. Sydney is the author of the just released literary fiction book, The Lyre and the Lambs. I thank her so much for stopping by Choices on her WOW! Women on Writing book tour.


The Importance of Book Reviews

By Sydney Avey

The Third Tuesday at Three Book Club in Angels Camp, California invited me to attend their September discussion of my debut novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter. We traded thoughts on the reader and the author experience, and I shared my feeling that a book is a collaborative effort between writer and reader. Book reviews are a big help to authors and a boon to the book culture in general, I said, and asked had any of them ever posted a review on Goodreads or Amazon? It had never occurred to any of them to post a review.

The more we discussed the importance of book reviews, the more they warmed to the idea. There are three good reasons to post reviews. Readers opinions may influence:

  • The direction and success of an author’s writing
  • The decisions other readers make about what to read
  • What shows up on bookshelves in the future

When readers post reviews they are not talking to the author, they are talking to each other. However, many authors read their reviews and take the feedback to heart. A wise author will use both positive and negative comments to form a clearer picture of their audience.

You, dear reader, have the power to influence the decisions authors make about what direction to take with their writing!

Your honest assessment of your experience with a book will influence another reader to order a book or take a pass. Raising an issue you have with a story may warn a sensitive reader away. At the same time, your remark may prompt another reader to press the order button.

You vote with your dollars, but your opinions count too. More reviews boost the visibility of the authors and make it more likely you will hear from them again. This is sort of good news/bad news because it’s the number of reviews that count, not the ratings. An actor came out with a book a few years ago and although his ratings were low, the number of people who posted their outrage indicated a wide readership. Will that help him should he decide to publish again? Probably. That said, he takes a slot on a short roster that could have gone to a lesser known but better writer. But that’s another issue.

Some review writing tips

If you have never written and posted a book review, here are a few do’s and don’ts:

  • Do say why you chose this book (I love books about¦). What did you like about the narrative? Did the story live up to your expectations?
  • Do give examples.  Describe a character or a scene you found particularly touching or humorous. Quote a snippet of dialogue or a lovely line that impressed you.
  • Don’t recap the story. That takes the adventure away from other readers.
  • Don’t give away the ending.

Crafting a review sharpens your thinking and brings into focus what you learn from what you read. It is good writing practice. Challenge yourself to begin posting reviews.

About The Lyre and the Lambs:

It’s the Sixties. Modernity and tradition clash as two newlywed couples set up house together. Dee and her daughter Valerie move with their husbands into a modern glass house Valerie built in a proudly rural Los Altos, California neighborhood. When their young relatives start showing up and moving in, the neighbors get suspicious. Then a body is found in the backyard and the life they are trying to build comes undone.

Father Mike is back to guide Dee through a difficult time with humor and grace, even as his own life is unraveling. Now he’s going to have to take some of his own advice about love.

The Lyre and the Lambs explores the passions that draw people together and the faith it takes to overcome trauma.

sydauthorphoto_smallAbout the author:

Sydney Avey is an author of historical and women’s fiction set in California. The Lyre and the Lambs is the sequel to her first novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, which won an honorable mention from the Center for Basque Studies (University of Nevada, Reno) in their Basque Literary Contest. Both novels were published by HopeSprings Books, a small publishing house that promotes realistic Christian fiction.

Sydney has a lifetime of experience writing news for non profits and corporations. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Foliate Oak, Forge, American Athenaeum, and Unstrung (published by Blue Guitar Magazine). She has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley and has studied writing at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. She lives with her husband Joel in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Yosemite, California and the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

Visit Sydney at and sign up to receive her monthly News for Readers and Writers.

Thanks again, Sydney, for being here today. Your words of wisdom about book reviews matter.





  1. I agree that book reviews are so important. They are a sign of social proof which is important. Interesting that the number is more important than the ratings themselves. That makes sense since it can show that it is controversial or it can be a book like 50 Shades of Grey that people either despise or love.

    • The emphasis on numbers surprised me also, Sebastian. I suppose it indicates a wider readership than just an author’s friends and relatives who are showing their support. So 150 “4-star” ratings might be more indicative of an author’s success that five “5-star” ratings. The ratings game gets a little crazy. An author hits a high rating in an Amazon category for a few minutes and they can bill themselves as “best-selling!” It remains, though, that an honest, thoughtful, well written review is a gift to readers.

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      I definitely agree, Sebastian. Everyone seems so surprised at the number of reviews my memoir has received, not so much what the ratings are. I feel reviews are so important to whether a book sells or not, plus a good review boosts and author’s ego a lot. Makes it all seem worthwhile.

      • Sebastian Aiden Daniels says:

        It is a crazy game. It is pretty cool that you got so many reviews. It does make you feel and boosts the ego a bit when you get a good review : D.

  2. These are some great tips for writing book reviews. I love to “pay it forward” with reviews after I’m done with a book but always struggle with exactly how much to share! This breaks it down nicely.

    Thank you for hosting Sydney, Madeline!

    • Madeline Sharples says:

      My pleasure Renee. Thanks for asking me to host Sydney. Her insights on book reviews are so valuable.

  3. Thanks for the outstanding post, Sydney. I’m in the middle of launching my four-book series on Kindle, and you expressed so well the importance of reviews! Wishing you continued success with your writing!

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