“Together we can change the world, one good deed at a time.” ~~Anonymous
Share Your Opinions:
Why Book Reviews Matter and How You Can Help
Whether you’re an author or not, one of the kindest gifts you can give to any writer is a constructive honest review. It doesn’t have to be long or literary or quote specific passages unless you’re writing for a site that expects that.
Not only will your comments please the author, but your words might help her see her work in a whole new way. You’ll be helping readers who depend on reviews make a choice. In addition your review could be a springboard for new writing for either of you. That’s good for everyone and a lot to get out of a few minutes of reacting to a story that grabbed you and/or made you think.
Quick, short reviews can be very effective—especially on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Simply tell why you recommend the book in one or two sentences. If you want to add plot summary, analysis of writing style, or who the ideal audience is, feel free. It’s nice but not necessary.
““Never Too Late is an honest, insightful look at one of life’s greatest mysteries: the ever changing and ever challenging relationship between a man and a woman. This book is one you won’t want to miss!” —Mary Eileen Williams, Host of Feisty Side of Fifty, author of Land the Job You Love!: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50
If you decide to write a more detailed review, start with the themes an author explores and then talk about how and why the story sheds new light on a familiar subject or opens your insights. Often I start by articulating the questions that the author is exploring:
What if you have a gift that no one can accept?
Ever been puzzled by a partner’s behavior?
Ever wonder how others handle the costs of their bad decisions?
What happens when family and ambition compete?
What does it take to survive?
Another approach is to tell people what the book intends to convey and how well it does its job. This works for a two-sentence review or a longer one.
I usually include a brief summary and identify the author’s strengths. If something bothers me I’ll mention it briefly as long as it’s not a story spoiler. If I can’t write something good and make the review at least 80% positive, I move on to the next book.
If you look at the reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads, you’ll see that lengths vary. I’ve written one-sentence reviews and I’ve posted reviews of 350 words or more. Generally, less is more. Many people have short attention spans.
Once you’re satisfied with your review, it’s easy to cut and paste into Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.
Go to the site where you want to place your review.
Find the search box.
Type the book title and/or author and hit return.
When the correct page comes up, scroll down to the box that says, “Write a Customer Review” or “Add a Review.”
Click on the box. Amazon asks some questions to guide you. Barnes & Noble doesn’t. You can simply rate the book and paste in your review, because you are prepared.
Often the sites will notify the author when a review is posted. Not always. It’s all controlled by algorithms beyond our control. Here’s what’s within your control:
You can write a review.
You can read other reviews as samples.
You can post a review.
You can practice on the last book you read. Or the one you’re just finishing. The authors will love you for it.
Another way to help authors is to recommend their books to your friends, writing peers, and book groups. Word of mouth is excellent publicity. Paying it forward matters. Right or wrong, the number of reviews you have on Amazon also matters, so the important thing is to write honestly and share your thoughts. They’re just as valuable as anyone else’s. You never know where a review might lead. Doing book reviews is a great way for writers to build community.
Not sure where to start? Not even reading a book right now? I’d be delighted to have you review my memoir about love, acceptance, and much more. It’s called Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62.
It’s a quick, easy read, and I’m perfectly happy with either a short or long review, as long as it’s honest. You can post it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, or all three.