The Value of Book Reviews


Book reviews are currency for the indie author, especially when reader feedback appears on Amazon and Goodreads. That makes sense, considering the weight of word of mouth marketing. I read an article on Impact recently that stated consumers are 4x more likely to buy goods and services when referred by a friend, and 63% of visitors are more likely to make purchases from websites with reviews/ratings.

Why then, does word of mouth seem to fail so many fantastic indie writers? Because the number of Amazon book purchasers who go back to leave a review, or even a star rating, are few and far between. Derek Haines at Just Publishing Advice says listing your Kindle book as free for a promotional period can help stimulate readers to leave a review; however, reviews of free books are even lower than for actual sales. This rings true for me. I ran a week long promotion last year after releasing Magpie in August in paperback. I moved a few hundred free copies of my novel for Kindle, and I have earned fourteen greatly appreciated reviews.

An article published on Written Word Media in 2017 states that book reviews play an integral role within the Amazon algorithm. Research showed that the number of reviews is more valuable to the ranking system than the overall average rating, as long as the average rating is over 3.5 stars. I’ve read many articles pertaining to this magical algorithm that goes by the name A9. If I see the word ‘algorithm’ one more time, fuuhhh…

At the heart of it all, I write because there is a visceral need and roiling passion in the pit of me that commands me to create. That said, writing is how I make a living, and book reviews are pertinent to my success, as they are a part of my marketing plan. I am not alone in this—I have the pleasure of knowing and working with some of the most talented indie writers on the scene. Writers who deserve to make it.

In 2016, Amazon reported that only forty self-published authors sold a million or more Kindle copies within a five year space. Forty out of hundreds of thousands.

I have immeasurable respect for my readers, fellow indie authors, and for small presses; it’s an honor to support the writing community and publishing industry. I want to see small publishing houses and self-publishers thrive. I want to be a part of the revolution that’s birthing dynamic, divergent, emotionally eviscerating, punk rock works.

Please join me. Give your favorite authors gold stars, and hearts in the form of honest reviews.

Peace and good vibes,

Kindra M. Austin

Published by Kindra M. Austin

Author of fiction, poetry, and very sweary social commentary. Editor, and co-founder of Indie Blu(e) Publishing. Co-founder of Blood Into Ink, and Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen.

20 thoughts on “The Value of Book Reviews

  1. I share your frustration. I had an academic book published, and was also a bit frustrated by the numbers of people saying they had read it and loved it, and that they would write a review on Amazon, but then forgot. So I think it is the same for published books, but obviously more frustrating because that is a larger part of the marketing. In case you think I’m a smug published author, don’t! It turns out that getting an academic title is a bit easier than anything else. Writing that book unleashed a need to write that is unstoppable, but the book I wrote afterwards on gardening, which means more to me, continues to languish on an agent’s desk!


  2. One challenge is reviewing a book by a fellow blogger that falls short of my expectations for a good book. I often think it could have benefited by solid editing. I don’t want to leave a negative review, but I don’t want to leave a false one either. My husband self published a book, but he had a solid editing job done by our daughter. This has resulted in good reviews and constant, though slow, sales.


    1. No, I would never suggest writing an untrue review. In fact, I advocate for honest reviews only. I certainly would never say anything about a book that isn’t true. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He wrote it as a adjunct to his professional work with families because they had requested it. He both sells it and gives it away when he sees someone who would benefit from it. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

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