The importance of reviews

As an indie author and a music jour­nal­ist (that sup­ports indie artists), I find myself strad­dling an inter­est­ing fence. As a music writer (for Con­se­quence of Sound and Mxdwn — see Other Writ­ing if curi­ous) I am approached daily by PR com­pa­nies and record labels ask­ing me to review their artist’s lat­est offer­ings. Some­times these are big name, big label bands, and some­times these are smaller, totally unknown (or at least cultish) bands but in the end, they approach me just the same.

I try and review every­thing I get. As I write for pub­li­ca­tions, it is some­times not up to me if a review gets done or not. I may push my edi­tor to get a review out there, but it’s often not my choice. But I do what I can and often, espe­cially for cer­tain types of music I am draw to (see: every­thing on Ipecac). Labels and musi­cians alike know that in this day and age, one of the most effi­cient ways to cre­ate buzz for an artist or to get a band heard and noticed, is through reviews. Sure, press releases are handed out here and there and occa­sion­ally there might be a music video going viral, but really, it’s reviews that make things go BOOM. Whether you make the argu­ment that the lis­tener should buy the album or not, you’re at least paint­ing a pic­ture, and telling the world what to expect. You put that name out there.

Now that I’ve pub­lished my books, I find myself on the oppo­site side of the fence. Not with music, of course, but I am approach­ing spe­cific book blog­gers to see if they would be so kind as to review my book. Just as fash­ion blog­gers started replac­ing Vogue and Harpers as the “go-to” voices of the fash­ion world, book blog­gers are pick­ing up the reins from the floun­der­ing print indus­try and becom­ing the new venue of sat­u­ra­tion. Book reviews — par­tic­u­larly in-depth and thought­ful ones — are as good as any high-powered PR team in get­ting peo­ple to want to read your book. Yes, you can adver­tise all you want (and I do) but ads don’t con­vince peo­ple to hand over money and buy your book. Reviews do. Peo­ple telling them to read it, does.

(and by the way, all book blog­gers who have agreed to read Dark­house or Red Fox, tak­ing a chance on an indie novel — you’re all beyond awe­some. Check out the Links sec­tion to visit these adven­tur­ous souls)

And it doesn’t stop at book blog­gers — any­one who has read a book, espe­cially an indie book — should leave a review. I’m not just speak­ing per­son­ally. With­out a large mar­ket­ing or PR bud­get, it’s hard for a book these days to get noticed but if you leave a review and detail what you liked (and didn’t like!) about a book, you’re doing the writ­ing world a great, big favor.

Good or bad, it doesn’t mat­ter. Let me repeat that: whether you are leav­ing a good review or a bad (and hope­fully tact­ful and con­struc­tive) review, you’re helping.


Pub­lish­ers at the recent BEA in NYC noted that bad reviews sell almost as many books as good reviews do. Why is that? Because you’re get­ting the word out there. And word of mouth is a won­der­ful thing.

So, if you read a book (any book), tell the world what you thought of it. Writ­ers every­where will thank you for it.