I’ve had a number of people mention to me that they would like to write a review for my book, but have never written one. One person mentioned the amount of anxiety and pressure that they feel. To help people like them, I thought I’d break down a few simple things that make a great review.
Don’t write a review trying to make friends or ingratiate yourself with the author, write what you honestly think and feel. If the book deserved a 1 or 2 star, then so be it. If you’re giving it a 5 star rating, make sure you really feel that way.
Writing a review that simply says “I loved it!” is nice, but it’s not as valuable to others who will read your review as saying what you loved about it, or if you liked the whole thing and what your favorite part was. “I loved the book, but the ending, that really got me. I raced through the pages and at the end, I wanted more, but I was still satisfied.”
There are some negative reviews that reveal a lot about the reviewer, and that their anger has very little to do with the actual book or author. Make sure that you aren’t channeling frustration or anger from somewhere else into the review, because it won’t be honest, and it won’t be fair to you, the book, or the author.
Comparisons are helpful to other readers, but only if they make sense. Saying, “This was like Empire Strikes back meets the Care Bears movie!” might be an accurate description, but most likely not. Telling people that it had the “strong female protagonist like book XYZ” and the “pacing of ABC” will help people.
A point was raised by fellow author Luther Siler, to be conscious of how you do this, as apparently Amazon has pulled at least one review related to this.
Having elements that are quotable is great. Some of my favorite ones from reviews for my books are “Truly Masterful Storytelling” and “Powerhouse of young adult fiction.” They were honestly written and were short enough that I could use them from a promotion point of view. Sometimes we write 2 or 3 sentences expressing our loving support of the book, but if that was one short sentence, it would help the book more and people would read it, understand it, and move on more quickly.
After you’ve written the review, re-read it to make sure it’s saying what you meant, and then re-read it out loud, listening to yourself as someone who just stumbled upon your review.
Reviews are very important for authors. On sites like Amazon.com, after a certain number, the book will start to appear in “People who bought this also bought”, among other things. Some book newsletters won’t accept a book until it has more than 25, 50 or 100 reviews. Reviews matter.
There you go, boot strapping done. That’s been your “1 Minute to knowing how to write a book review.” Got something to add? Add a comment, I’m happy to update the post.