A few weeks ago it was my birthday and one of my friends thought it would be hilarious to gift me with the unicorn shower cap pictured to the left. It's brilliant and I love it to bits, but it also prompted me to think about gifts for authors and I'd argue that the most valuable thing a reader can give an author (besides a unicorn shower cap) is a review.
Now, I know reading is not all about the author, and some folk just want to buy a book, read it, and move on with their lives. However, reviews are the only thing that keep some authors writing. Now, some might think I'm being a drama llama (there's a real four-legged theme to this post) but reviews do multiple things for authors: they can translate into income (when your book gets noticed by and purchased by more people), they can make the difference between a publishing contract being renewed (or not), and they can give authors enough warm fuzzies to keep writing books despite also working a full-time or part-time job (because most authors earn a lot less than people think they do).
So, think of it as feeding the author fairies whenever you write a review.
That's right, reviews are author fairy food.
And a review doesn’t need to be an epic, thousand-word essay, it can be as simple as two sentences. Or even one long sentence: I enjoyed this book and I hope that the author writes many more like it. Or, I detested this book and hope the author is humped to death by horny dolphins on their next beach trip.
So what should you do with your review once you've written it? The place that will make the most difference is Amazon (in fact, those crazy Amazon algorithms go beserk when an author receives several new reviews, and is the sort of thing that can catapult mid-level and emerging authors into stardom). If you have an Amazon account, it’s easy to leave a review (in fact, Amazon will often email you asking for one).
But if you don’t have an Amazon account, there's still Goodreads, or even just tweeting your review on Twitter, or posting it on Facebook.
After they’ve finished squealing, the author will usually re-tweet or post—as will their friends (if they still have any by the time they've finished writing their last book).
Your review doesn’t even need to be 100% positive. Most authors won’t shoot you down in flamey-pants rage if you say something like ‘I didn’t like this character but the pacing was good and I loved the unicorn with five nipples’.
In fact, if you’re absolutely stuck, here’s a list of phrases you can use to construct a review:
Apologies for the unicorn theme, I think the shower cap has done something to my brain. I have no idea how the nipples got in there. Now get out there and feed the author fairies.