How important are reviews for self-published books?

reviews for self-published books

I have a question for the entire BookBaby community:

How important are reviews for self published books?

In my mind, the answer to this question is VERY! Writers need to know what the readers think, good or bad. As a reader and book consumer, reviews – or lack thereof – are often a big part of my buying process. A high number of good reviews may encourage me to take out the credit card. No reviews? It’s probably not going to happen.

That’s just me – I want to hear what you think! I’m inviting all authors to send me their thoughts about book reviews and how they helped – or hindered – their publishing experiences. My plan is to take the best-of-the-best ideas and report them in future BookBaby blog posts.

I’d like to hear from you!

  • Has a great – or terrible – book review affected your book sales?
  • Have you considered spending the money for a paid review? Why or why not?
  • Did you have a strategy or plan to solicit reviews? Please share.
  • Do you have any funny, interesting, or odd stories around reviews of your books?
  • Do positive or negative book reviews affect your decision to purchase a book?

I’m looking for any useful information you have about your experience with book reviews so that I can share with our blog readers. Send an email to me at, and please be sure to include your contact information if I have any follow up questions.

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Self-Publishing Package


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Famous Writers’ Insults
Resolve And Resolutions For Self-Published Authors
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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to


  1. The problem seems to me to be that the vast majority of eBook readers never bother to write a review. Which leaves authors in the position of having to fake it by persuading friends to write a review. But then maybe it’s just that my books are crap and nobody cares. ;-)

  2. I’m a traditionally published writer with plans to start indie publishing my back list. The funniest thing that’s happened to me is that a dear friend reviewed my book, said glowing things and then gave me a 1 star rating. When I laughingly asked her about it, she said she thought it meant she was the first to review it.Oh, well!

  3. I have had one.. only one review of one of my novels, it is truly the hardest thing to find a person that reviews books aside from the friend that reads them, they all like my work, yet it seems leaving a short note is too much to ask, while the review was a really good one, getting it out to the world somehow is like climbing a mountain on the wrong side! Amazon is adverse to reviews from a book reviewer they want buyers to spend time to return and leave one… this rarely happens. I welcome reviews good or bad, just really want to know that my work is appreciated.I write under the pen name of Rory Tilitson

  4. I think a new author’s career is like a developing embryo, and reviews are its nutrients. At an early stage a few bad reviews can kill it straight off, but as it grows and becomes more robust then they become to matter a bit less.

  5. To Steven and all brothers & sisters of the writing world,

    A looonnnggg time ago, I realized that there are several levels of writers: those who crave someone to review their work and comment, those who fear someone will review their work and comment, and those who could care less if someone ever reviews their work and comments.
    As a writer-editor, I’m doing a lot in book editing right now for an international client base. And I’ve come to see that this phenomenon is, well — universal. No matter what country you hail from, we’re all the same.
    What’s a book review? It is — in our hopes — an endorsement, thus positive recommendation to BUY the book. It all comes down to $$$$. That question: How important are reviews for self-published books? We’re really asking ourselves how we can gather the greatest number of endorsements; God knows, we’re not looking for the stingers in the bunch.

  6. Giving a review on a self-published book can be a dicey situation. Unfortunately, some self-publishers take the quick way to publishing and forgo the editing process. Either it’s too expensive or they think they can edit, but the result is a poorly produced book. Editing matters, and the lack of it results in a bad rep for the author, no readers, after the initial disappointment, and scathing reviews.

    Readers are more likely to leave a bad review than a good one. Not always, but often enough. Human nature seems to delight in tearing others down.

    I’ve always sought reviews from bloggers who review the genre I write. They post their work at various outlets online, host writers on their blogs, etc. I learned long ago not to depend upon reader reviews. People are busy, they consume books like a meal, and move on. My royalties show that many more people have purchased my books than have reviewed them. We can’t chase them down, so we learn to not live or die by the review.

    I would never pay for reviews.You get what you pay for, unless you are dealing with Kirkus maybe, where you might get a balance. There’s something about paying that leaves me with an unsettling feeling. I was recently solicited by someone who wanted $200 to review a book of mine, with a guarantee of a shining review posted everywhere. Bound to boost sales, yada, yada, yada. No thank you. The result would be a generic few paragraphs that could apply to most books, but nothing that indicates they actually read my book.

    I don’t believe good reviews measurably boost sales, while bad reviews might contribute to the tanking of a book. Good reviews are great for the author’s ego, and bad reviews might set us back on our heels. As time goes on, the bad reviews, unless thoughtfully crafted and balanced, are often a source of laughter.

    I once got a review that said, I paraphrase – two stars – if I’d known this book was a historical, I wouldn’t have bought it. I don’t like historicals, and the blurb should have said it was a historical. I laughed, because the first line of the blurb said, “In 1815 London…”

    Another review for another book said: one star – “I don’t like historicals because I don’t like how the characters talk all old-fashioned and stuff.”

    Sometimes, reviews say more about the reader than the book.


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