Are you one of those? I was.
In the past I rarely if ever left product or book reviews. If I did, the item had to be amazing and the reviewing process easy. Some companies bug you several times to leave a review, and I’d comply if they happened to catch me at a convenient time. I’d hardly ever make a conscious effort to leave one…
…until I became an author.
After publishing my first book, I realized how priceless the value of just one review is. Comments about my book have been surprising, thrilling, and disappointing. Those who have not left reviews, I assume did not like it…but I’d like to know why. What should I have changed? How could I have made it better? Yes, I am writing my second novel. What can I do to improve? Reviews help with that.
I realize there may be some situations where leaving a review would be awkward. For example, I purchased a book I would not normally have purchased but did because I know the person. I didn’t like it at all. Perhaps it was my own fault for purchasing it because I didn’t think I’d like it to begin with. I know people have done that with my book and understand why they don’t want to leave a review. I get that–but this is an exception, not a rule.
I’ve started in earnest leaving reviews of every book I finish–on places such as Amazon (from where I buy many) and on Goodreads (a great place for books acquired via a used bookstore, borrowed books, older books, etc.)–and have come to depend quite a bit on book reviews when I make my own selections to read, some of which have been based solely on reviews.
So how does one write a review? “No brainer!” you say, but wait! Please consider these tips.
- Be honest–but not brutally. It’s not always what you say but how you say it.
- Be fair. If you are reading a genre you don’t normally read or don’t really enjoy (like Christian romance, for example), don’t give a scathing review. That’s your own doing, not the author’s fault.
- Don’t retell the story. Most have read the book’s blurb and want to read the book themselves. No one wants your synopsis of the story–they just want to know your opinion.
- Don’t give spoilers. I don’t want to know ahead of time who got murdered or who the main character ended up marrying. This is disappointing and spoils the story (and is frustrating to authors!).
- Be brief. Who has the time to read a wordy review?
- Mix the good with the bad. If you don’t like a part or parts of the book, mention it but always mention at least one thing (preferably more) that you did like or enjoy.
- Be careful if you’re an expert. If you are an authority on a subject (i.e. you’re a nurse or have mastered the use of commas), a book review is not the place to make yourself look amazing as you detail what the author did wrong. While pointing something out may be helpful to the author, humbleness of spirit and brevity is always best.
- Make sure you do it. Don’t return the book or put on your shelf until you’ve done a review. It only takes a few minutes and will be helpful to the author and future readers.