Note: This post first appeared on American Christian Fiction Writers site.

Five stars, four stars, or one star? What’s the best rating to give a book? Or should we even be doing book reviews?

This is a question I ask myself quite often. Why? Because writing book reviews take time. As we all know, time is something we writers cherish. In order to get our word count in, we need to carve time out in our daily schedule. Adding reading books and writing reviews into that regime can be both challenging and frustrating.

However, I believe it has its rewards. Here are a few.

Connects us with other writers – I’ve been able to connect with some amazing authors and become friends. We’ve developed a connection on Facebook and other social media platforms. This promotes relationships, helping us grow as writers in our network community. Writers love to help other writers. We have a unique bond. Let’s foster it!

Connects us with readers – When I’m offered a hard copy of a book, I give it away in a free draw. Who doesn’t want a free book? This is a great incentive for people to hop on over to your website. They will hopefully stay for a bit and look at what else you have to offer. A win-win for everyone.

Gets us reading in different genres – I write romantic suspense and most of the time I read the same, but every now and then I step out of the box and pick a book to review outside of my genre. This not only gives us an escape into a different world than we’re used to, but also shows us totally different writing styles. Guess what? We may find another love.

Allows us to study other author’s writing styles – We’ve all heard the saying “every good writer should read.” Well, what better way to study other author’s writing than to critique their book? It allows us to dig deep. Look at the author’s dialogue, setting, descriptions, plot twists, characters, etc. Take notes at what you like in their style. What do they do differently that could be applied to our own writing? We just might find some precious jewels.

Escape into other worlds – This one is obvious! Sometimes we all just need to escape from this crazy, hectic world of ours, and what better way to do it than to read? I don’t know about you, but when I’m sitting in my favorite corner with a book in my hand (or my iPad) and a cup of coffee, I’m in heaven. Tensions have melted away and I’ve drifted off into the story with the characters. Love that.

These are only a few reasons why I feel writing book reviews are good. It’s also important to note there’s a balance. Writing too many can be a hindrance. We need to know our limits and deadlines. Do what we can and when time allows.

Be flexible. But be smart.

And remember . . . the rewards will be worth it.

What about you? Do you write book reviews? As a reader, do you read book reviews before you purchase a book?

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