Reader Reviews: Why They Matter

Jacqueline SeewaldMultiple award-winning author, Jacqueline Seewald, has taught creative, expository and technical writing at Rutgers University as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Fifteen of her books of fiction have been published to critical praise including books for adults, teens and children.

Her 4th Kim Reynolds mystery The Bad Wife was published by Perfect Crime Press both in print and as an e-book. Death Legacy, originally published by Five Star/Cengage in hardcover and praised by Booklist as well as Publishers Weekly, now has an e-book version.

Luminosity recently published Dark Moon Rising, a Gothic romantic suspense mystery thriller. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies such as: The Writer, L.A. Times, Reader’s Digest, Pedestal, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Over My Dead Body!, Gumshoe Review, The Mystery Megapack, Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly.

Her writer’s blog can be found at:

As a reader you might think that your opinion of a book or short story you’ve read doesn’t matter, but you’d be wrong! Not only does your opinion matter to the author but it matters to other potential readers as well. Writers who can’t build a readership because they remain unknown are likely to become discouraged and stop writing. So if you do respect and/or enjoy a book or short story, voice your opinion. Give that writer some encouragement and publicity. Amazon is one place to do it and so are Goodreads and Library Thing. But there are many other sites as well.

The Bad WifeFor those authors who are published in print, major editorial reviews only matter as much as they do because the reviews offered in such publications as: The New York Times Book Review, Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus etc. are what acquisitions librarians consider when they place their orders. Librarians are often referred to as gatekeepers, but this is not quite true. For the most part, just a few publications control what books will be purchased worldwide. But these review pubs merely voice the opinion of single reviewers, and these reviewers don’t know more than the average person in regard to what should be available to readers. If a book gets a rave or starred review from these all important publications, then in essence that is what readers will find available in libraries and bookstores.

Unfortunately, a great many fine, quality books will be ignored and get no reviews or publicity because they aren’t offered by the big publishers who heavily advertise. It appears that the major review publications give special preference to the publishers who advertise with them—not at all surprising. Readers should check out some of the internet review sites for buying recommendations. Also, why not request that your library order books from smaller, independent publishers that you think might be a good read?

The internet is now offering readers real alternatives. This is wonderfully democratic. A great many small independent publishers are making a variety of books available to readers. If you read a book you like, speak up and be a reader reviewer. Tell other readers why you would recommend a particular book. Write and be counted! Your opinion matters! But one caution: take this as a serious responsibility. Of late, it has been noted that some individuals bash books, sometimes books they haven’t even bothered to read. This is highly destructive, much in the way that hackers attack the internet. So be a responsible reader reviewer and help others make good choices.

The Devil and Danna WebsterI greatly appreciate the reader reviews my Clean Reads YA novel The Devil and Danna Webster has so far received. I hope for many more now that the book is available in print as well as all e-book formats.

Just republished in all e-book formats is Stacy’s Song. A somewhat different version of this novel was originally published by L&L Dreamspell in 2010. It was well-written and well-edited and received excellent editorial reviews at the time. Unfortunately, L&L folded due to the untimely death of its co-publisher. Stacy’s Song received short exposure. I’m happy to say Clean Reads Press has now published this orphaned novel.

Stacy's Song

I’ve rewritten and updated Stacy’s Song and Clean Reads provided exacting editing plus original cover art. So what was a fine novel is now an exceptional one. All that’s needed now is you the reader to play the most essential part. I hope you decide to read this coming-of-age YA novel which is also a romance. Give it to your teenage daughter, nieces, granddaughters etc. And if you like what you read, please review it!

Your thoughts and comments most welcome.


35 thoughts on “Reader Reviews: Why They Matter

  1. Reviews do count: I review print books all the time; it is a difficult task at times ( remaining honest and not being biased). You taught at Rutgers? We are practically colleagues, somewhat.


    • I got both of my graduate degrees at Rutgers and also enjoyed teaching there. As to reviews, in the past I reviewed for both Library Journal and Publishers Weekly. I always tried to be fair to fellow writers. If I had to comment on something negative then I would also state a positive.


  2. Great post Jacqueline and so true! A good review can boost our spirits.. on the other hand a poor one can crush us. Regardless reviewers are appreciated!

    Good luck and God’s blessings


  3. Good discussion, Jacquie. I so think thoughtful reviews by readers can be very important in the life of a book, and I hope more people will come to understand this. I appreciate the reviews of readers who appreciate a good story and also know that not every book is meant for them.


    • This is a great discussion for both sides; I review, but I also write and I also taught writing arts at a university as well as literature and English; the difficulty as a reviewer is that when an author sends a book for review purposes, perhaps they are unaware that some reviewers really take the task at hand seriously. I read slowly, carefully, and then I attempt to denote plot, setting, characterization, point of view, narration techniques, syntax , diction, mechanics, etc. My reviews are never based on whether I like the book or not, they are based on quality of certain targets. I try to write an honest review, and sometimes my three or four stars are not met with great reception, and if I Beta read and contact the author with my sincere and heartfelt ideas, sometimes I am met with a defensive spirit.


    • Susan,

      This is, of course, the case–not every book is right for every reader. We all have our own tastes. In fact, this is one of the reasons cover art and blurbs are so important. They give readers a heads-up as to what they can expect inside a particular book.


  4. Book reviews are our life-blood in several ways: they increase book sales, they give us writers publicity, and most importantly, they boost our morale. There’s nothing better than knowing a reader has enjoyed reading what we’ve written.


  5. You’ve touched on an important point, Jacqueline–how a small number of published reviews control what books appear in libraries and bookstores. The great thing about reader reviews is that they allow a wider range of opinions to be heard, and give new writers a chance to find an audience.


    • Cindy,

      Thank you for the kind words! A good review helps writers by encouraging them–I’m not any different. But I don’t mind criticism if it’s constructive and helps me write better. By the way, I love your use of humor in your mystery novels!


  6. Another excellent post, Jacquie. Reviews are a writer’s life line, and not always easy to come by.. Constructive criticism, yes, is a big help. If we don’t like a review, we can learn from it.


  7. I enjoyed this post. I do a lot of reviews after I’ve read a book, but only if I like the book. Sometimes I’ll find the parts of the book I like and discuss that, but lay-low on criticism as what didn’t interest me may interest someone else. I don’t like to be critical on reviews because of the damage that can be done. Not only are there “meanies” out there who like to write nasty reviews when they haven’t read a book, there are now those selling a good review. I’m glad Amazon is putting its foot down on that. I had one author friend who said “no” to one of these salesmen and suddenly started getting nasty reviews. I hope the party is caught.


    • Linda; there are reviewers who actually contact one another and ask for ‘likes’ and comments on their reviews. I have reviewed and like you, I have been very kind and sometimes overly generous with my commentaries, and if I find something out of whack, I reach out personally and contact the author by private e-mail. There are meanies everywhere, sad to say and there are those overly conscientious who truly find positive things and still offer constructive criticism privately.
      But the danger lies in trying to persuade others to give praise instead of reading, reviewing and moving on. I am very careful about which books I read for review. People always seem to seek self-gain for whatever reason.


    • I’m also glad that Amazon is going after those who create dishonest reviews. I don’t believe in buying good reviews and I also resent those who bash writers unfairly. So it’s great that Amazon is doing some policing.


  8. Thoughtful post, as usual, Jacqueline. When people take the trouble to tell me, by email or in person, that they like my books, it’s hard for me to ask that they go that extra mile and post a review on Goodreads or Amazon. Not everyone can put together a review that will help other readers decide if a book is one they’d enjoy. But even a few (kind) words help authors.


  9. I agree that readers’ reviews count. The hard part is getting them to write and post a review. Sigh. Good luck with your reprint.


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