How to Write a Review

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Someone suggested to me recently that I should write a blog post about book reviews. It’s a great idea and I’m glad the person suggested it, because I’m always gently nudging (read: badgering, pestering) people to leave online reviews of my books and any other books they read.

Here’s why: especially on Amazon, the algorithm used to determine which books to promote is heavily based on the number of reviews a book has. In other words, the more reviews a book has, the more likely readers are to see it promoted by Amazon say, under “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…” or “Products Related To This Item…”

The reviews don’t have to be good, they just have to be there. Quantity over quality, if you will.

Quantity over quality is not generally a good thing, but it is a good thing for people who are hesitant to leave reviews online. So here are a few points to consider when you hear an author ask for a review:

First, reviews that you post online don’t have to read like the New York Times Book Review. There are very few rules about posting reviews. One of the only hard-and-fast rules is that you have to say something (you can give a book a rating–for example, four stars– but that’s not the same as a review if you don’t leave any commentary).

Second, the point of a review is to let other readers know what you thought about the book and possibly a quick explanation of why you felt that way. Did you read a book and love it? Tell people. If you’re shy, just write what you loved most about it. For example, it’s perfectly fine to write “I loved this book because the characters were funny.” Heck, you can even say “I loved this book” and leave it at that!

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay/condesign

Third, if you want to share a little more or go into a little more depth, tell people what appealed to you about the book and what didn’t. For example, you can say, “The story moved at a quick pace and the characters were put into funny situations. The romance scenes may have been a bit stilted, but I’m happy the way the romance turned out.”

Fourth, it’s even okay to say “This book wasn’t what I hoped it would be,” or “This book wasn’t my cup of tea,” or something along those lines. But here I’ll make one request: if you’re going to say you hated a book with a passion, please please do so diplomatically. Reviews have the power to ruin an author’s day (or week), so think about being kind while you lower the boom. Perhaps you can write why you didn’t like the book, because negative reviews can be just as enlightening for other readers as positive reviews.

Here’s an example: “I really didn’t care for this book because I didn’t realize it would have paranormal elements and I don’t read paranormal.” This review could be helpful to other readers who don’t like paranormal books, but it can also be helpful for those who do.

Fifth, and here’s where I’ll make another request. You know how you hate it when someone spoils the end of a movie you’re dying to see? The same thing happens when someone posts a book review with spoilers. Don’t ruin the ending for others. If you feel compelled to put something in a review that reveals some big secret in the book (like who the killer was, or who the girl ends up with, or whether the dog survives), please make sure you mark it in the beginning as containing spoilers. That way people who don’t want to know the ending aren’t disappointed before they pick up the book. Or worse yet, decline to buy the book because they already know the ending.

So now that you’ve decided to write a review, where do you go to share it with the world?

After you’ve told all your friends how great the book is, there are lots of places where you can share your opinion. The most common are Amazon and Goodreads. You can also go to Barnes & Noble (bn.com), Kobo, iTunes, or pretty much anywhere you can buy books online. But that’s not all! You can put your review on Facebook, on Twitter (you may have to get creative with language, since you can only use 140 characters), Tumblr, or any of a host of other social media sites. And then there are blogs! If you have a blog, share your review!

Thanks for reading. Reviews are like gold to authors, as I’ve said many times before, so please consider writing a review the next time you get to “The End.”

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay/Michitogo

Until next week,

Amy

P.S. If you have any questions about anything in this post, please leave it in the comments section and I’ll be happy to help.