Book reviews are probably the best way that any author can promote their book for sale. In order for the public to want to buy a book, they have to know what it is about. While some of the known authors will develop a following and people will read anything that they publish, lesser known authors and especially first time authors will rely on book reviews to get the message of their book to the public.
The book reviews have two purposes. The first is to let others know what the book is about. In order for anyone to want to buy your book, they are going to have to learn what it is about. This is where book reviews come in. They give the reader a little glimpse of what the book is about. They may relate the book reviews to other similar books or they may just review it on their own. Generally, the public will read book reviews to get ideas on which books to buy an buy those that feature book reviews that reveal a subject matter or plot of interest to them.
Many book reviews will critique the book and the author, although most book reviews are generally favorable towards the author. There are a few that are panned, but this is not like a movie review where a movie is panned by critics but still rakes in money at the box office. A negative book review can be devastating for an author but more importantly, for a publisher. For this reason, book reviews do not pan a book as they might a movie. The exception is when a book is written by a well known writer that does not live up to previous works.
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