We all know the power of Oprah’s book recommendations, but consider a few other names that have become accidental “book bloggers.”

  • Reese Witherspoon is building a business around her reading habits. Google her name with the word books and you’ll see her recommendations included in article after article. What’s even more interesting is that she has been able to turn her reading passion into a funnel for movie rights investments.
  • Ryan Holiday’s 80,000 email subscription list makes him one of the top sources of book reviews and many of those are not current releases. You can read how he did it here.
  • Another voracious reader is Bill Gates. He’s turned his eclectic taste into a destination that attracts critical thinkers interested in what one of the World’s richest men is reading.

In each of these cases the reviewer didn’t start out with the goal of being a book blogger. They chose books they were interested in and by talking about them, discovered others shared their interests. The key takeaway is that they have built a reputation that attracts publishers and readers alike.

Here are 5 reasons why authors, especially new authors, should consider writing book reviews and blogging about it.

1. You will expand your network of contacts.

Every book review is going to involve at least 2 parties, either directly or indirectly: a reader, the author, and the publisher—and if not the publisher, the source of the book. You noticed that I listed 3 but said at least 2. That’s because early on you may be getting your review copy from your library, Amazon, or some other retailer. But eventually this copy will come from a publisher (or author if self-publishing), or a representative.

Once you write the review, why not send a link to the author? Perhaps there will be an opportunity for a follow-up interview? Build your relationships one-by-one; it’s networking 101.

Two other things:

  • Review books in the subject area where you write.
  • Don’t start with major writers because you’ll probably not be able to reach them anyway. Ideally you want to start with the more approachable top-selling indie author.

2. You will have a never-ending supply of blog post ideas.

It’s a fact of online life that regular blogging attracts readers and visitors from search engines like Google. “What should I blog about?” is a common refrain and book blogging solves that problem. If you can’t identify books to blog about, then you have a problem:

  • Maybe you are one of those who says, “no one writes books like mine.” In that case you probably won’t be selling many books.
  • If there are no or very few indie authors in your category, you might want to reassess what it will take to make your book successful.

3. Reading and reviewing books will help you become a better writer.

Stephen King devotes 10 pages in his book, On Writing, to the importance of reading. He defines the Great Commandment for writers as, “read a lot, write a lot.”

And as suggested in number 1 above, I suggest adding this to his commandment so it reads, “read a lot, write a lot; in your chosen subject area.”

4. You will attract readers (and build a mailing list of readers) who may also want to read books like yours.

This seems so logical, yet writers frequently fall into the trap of blogging about their publishing experiences. True, many successful writers have gone on to create a well-deserved reputation as a publishing expert (Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Bob Mayer), but it began with creating a writing platform in their subject area.

There is no better way to do that than to blog about books that are comparable to your books.

It attracts readers who may be interested in your books. Just as importantly, it conveys a certain success-by-association status to your own books.

5. You will sell more of your own books.

Not immediately, but over time your reputation and influence will grow. With the right commitment, and a dash of style, you’ll be building relationships with readers and fellow authors alike. If you’ve been generous with your praise and support of their work, they will nearly always return the favor.

When it comes time for your turn, ask those loyal readers to buy. Ask your fellow writers for their help. That’s how it works.

Each of these are possible and incredibly powerful outcomes from writing book reviews for books in your chosen area of writing. The shift in thinking required is that you are a member of the media, not just another writer pitching a book to a reviewer. Authors and readers will come to you.

And as a bonus, you’ll get books to read for free!

Get started today…

As some of you know, I am also the publisher of The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages and we consider all submissions for a free listing in the directory. Join our mailing list to be notified about becoming part of the next edition.

And in the meantime, check out the current directory.
Feature photo credit: Alexis Brown