“If you like the book, would you consider writing a review?
That’s a standard question I ask when I do book signings. While most people are at least open to the idea, a surprising number make a face like I asked them to fly to the moon.
“I don’t know how to do that,” they say.
I get it. Everything looks like too much trouble if you don’t know how to do it. But writing and publishing a book review is easier than you think.
Writing a Helpful Book Review
The reason authors like it when readers write reviews is that they are helpful. First, whether the review is good, bad or somewhere in between, it’s valuable feedback.
And the reviews can help other people to decide if they want to buy the book.
Sound hard? It’s not really. Just follow these five easy steps.
1. Read the book
You might think this is obvious, but unfortunately, many people post reviews for books they haven’t read.
2. Think About What Stands Out
After you finish reading the book, what’s the main thought in your head about it? What are you still thinking about?
Did you love the main character (or love her in spite of being annoyed by her)? Did the main theme resonate with you in some way? How is this book similar to or different from other books in its genre?
3. Write your review
It’s easiest to write your review in a Word or other document first, before you go to the review site. This takes the feeling of being under pressure off, and you can take your time.
The simplest way to get started is to say, “I enjoyed this book because….” Then use your thoughts about the book to give a few specific reasons.
If you are writing your review to post on Amazon or GoodReads or another review site, you don’t need to summarize the plot or story. Others will have done that, and the book description is easily accessible.
And you don’t need to write hundreds of words. Amazon’s minimum is twenty words. That’s just about three sentences.
It’s more helpful to give your opinion of the book, and perhaps suggestions. Examples could be:
If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, you’ll enjoy this.
If you love westerns, this is a book you’ll want to read.
Only include comments about the book. If you bought your copy as an ebook and had trouble downloading it, do not give the book itself a bad review. The bookseller is at fault and not the author. Take your complaint to customer service.
If you hated the actual book, that’s another story. I personally don’t bother reviewing books I didn’t like. But if you feel the need to give a bad review, direct your criticism to the book, the writing and the ideas in the book. Don’t make personal attacks on the author.
Feeling stuck? Just remember, your goal is to share your opinion and help someone decide if they want to buy. That’s all.
4. Write a Catchy Headline
Come up with something that summarizes what you gained from reading the book.
Some examples are:
Thought Provoking and Entertaining
Was So Sad When I Got to the Last Page
Hooked Me From the First Page
Highly Enjoyable Read
If you keep in mind your idea is to help others decide if they want to buy this book, it will be easier to come up with a headline.
5. Edit Your Review
Take a minute to read your review out loud to make sure it’s clear and says what you want it to say.
Publish Your Review
Now that you’ve done the hard part, now you can publish it.
I’ll walk you through how to publish reviews on Amazon. While every review site is a little different, none of them make it difficult.
Here’s the process, in 8 easy steps
Step 1: Log into your Amazon account
Step 2: Search for the book you want to review.
Step 3: Under the title, you’ll see the stars and the number of customer reviews. Click on the “customer reviews.”
Step 4: Click on the button “Write a customer review.”
Step 5: Next, you’ll get a list of books you’ve recently purchased, with the one you were looking at on top.
Step 6: Click on the stars to give the book a rating. Many people get confused here. Five stars is best, one is worst.
Step 7: Paste in the review you already wrote and add your headline.
Step 8: Click submit.
That’s all you have to do.
So go ahead. If you’ve read a book, share your opinion. Your fellow readers (and not to mention the author) will thank you.