Book Reviews 101

reviewmeme3I made myself a New Years’ resolution this year that has been much easier to keep than dieting. It’s fun, it’s easy and it feels good. For every book I read, I leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s that simple. There have been one or two that I chose not to review, not because the author didn’t deserve a review, but because the author didn’t deserve a poor review. Some books just aren’t for us, and that’s okay. Some books probably could have used a lot more professional help getting them ready for publication. But as a fellow author, I don’t think it’s my place to chastise them in a public forum.

quoteIn talking to readers, I have found that the biggest reason they site for not leaving a review is fear of getting it wrong. They think there is a format. They must first summarize the book. Yes, several professional reviewers do this. No, it is not necessary. After all, that is what the book blurb is for, right? The gist of the review is to tell other readers what YOU thought of the book. Why did you like it? What didn’t work for you? Don’t give the ending away. That just spoils it for everyone. And don’t trash the author. They wrote that book out of love and passion for writing. So it wasn’t your thing. It still came from their heart. If you must express your misgivings, do it in as kind a way as possible. We’re all adults here.

A lot of readers don’t realize this, but the more reviews a book has, the more chances it has for marketing opportunities. Which is really unfair, but an established way of life. So the bestsellers, which don’t need any help, get all the promo spots, while the struggling mid-listers and those of us still in obscurity beg for reviews on the street corner. Authors can list their books with Ebook Soda and the Fussy Librarian if they have at least 10 reviews for their book. Know what? Out of five books I have on the market, ONE has enough reviews to actually list it with these email subscription sites. And those were mostly begged off friends and acquaintances. Heck, I’m not even qualified enough to tell you what an author with enough reviews can do for their books. The more reviews, the more possibilities to get your books before more readers.

wordofmouthI just finished a book last night. PARIS TIME CAPSULE, by Ella Carey. It was fabulous. And I want the world to know about it. So I wrote a review. I posted it on Goodreads and Amazon. I pinned her book cover to my Pinterest page “Books I Recommend”. I tweeted the review link. Am I doing this for myself? No. But I felt passionately enough about how awesome that book was that I wanted others to discover it. I learned about it on Facebook when another author mentioned how she couldn’t put it down. Word of mouth, people. It’s the biggest marketing tool out there, and it starts with reviews.

reviewmeme1It’s simple, really. When you finish a book (preferably if you know you can give the author at least 4 stars), click “write your own review” on Amazon. Imagine you’re talking to a friend, telling them about this great book you just read. Why did you like it? What was a really unforgettable scene? Was it a character you absolutely fell in love with? Was it the author’s writing style? Did you want to keep turning the pages? Did you want to forgo sleep, hide from your family, ignore the household chores? Say that! It doesn’t have to be long and thought out. It just has to be honest. And no one cares if there are typos in your review. You are the reader, not the author. Something made you buy that book (or borrow it) and you’d be helping countless others if you shared your experience with them. There are SO many choices out there now. We need all the help we can get, as authors – to be discovered, as readers – to find the next great book escape.

Authors: Share your thoughts on what it means to receive a review for one of your books and help others to understand the importance of even the briefest review on Amazon.

Readers: If this doesn’t convince you to write at least one “test” review for a book you’ve read, tell us why. If I can’t help you craft a review you feel comfortable posting, I am sure there are countless others out there who can.

And to those of you who have ever taken the time to leave an author a review, thank you from the bottom of my heart.readingmeme


About Jennifer DeCuir

I write small town contemporary romance for Crimson Romance. Busy mom of two, I live for (or is it on?) coffee and chocolate.
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9 Responses to Book Reviews 101

  1. Great post, Jennifer. I agree with everything you said. Before I started writing, I read a lot of books but didn’t review any of them. I had no idea how important those reviews were. Now, like you, if I can give the book a good review, I do. You’re right when you say not every book is for everyone. There are a few bestsellers out there I wouldn’t read if you paid me to, but…
    In the hopes of making it easier for people who read my boos to leave a review, I’ve added an interactive component to my website. Will it help my books on Amazon? Probably not, but if people see how easy it is to leave a review, maybe more of them will copy past their reviews to Amazon and Goodreads.
    All I can do is hope!

  2. Yes! Reviews are a writer’s life blood. They help others decide to give a book a try. Not only that, but writing is such a solitary thing. We create characters and storylines we love, and we have no idea how they’ll be received. And we never will know unless people review! 🙂 Reader comments are so important, not just to let us know that they enjoy what we’re doing (but that really, really matters to us!) but also to take constructive criticism and apply it to future writing. No one is perfect, and we all strive to be better. If I see the same comment from multiple readers, I take it to heart and either know I’m doing something right or could change things up.

    • Exactly, Katie! I see sales and then…crickets. Did you like it? Did you not? Would you tell your friends? Would you tell a stranger? The not knowing is frustrating. And a helpful critique is always a good thing to apply to future books. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  3. Sometimes it can feel as if you’re writing into a vacuum, so it’s lovely to read opinions from readers, especially if they’re not people you already know, so you wouldn’t otherwise get to find out their reactions. Plus, as you say, reviews help to get the word out and open doors for less well known writers.

    • I know what you mean, Stephanie. To get a review can make a writer’s day. To get a review from a stranger? I feel like I’ve won the lottery! LOL I think if more readers realized that it really is that easy to make a writer’s day/week/month, maybe they’d leave more reviews. Here’s to hoping. 🙂

  4. Rachel Donnelly says:

    Great post, Jennifer. Writing is a wonderful, but sometimes lonely, occupation. It’s fabulous to receive feedback and know my readers are cheering me on.

  5. Marvelous post, Jennifer! Readers, she’s so right. A brief review does so much good for a writer still not ‘there’, and we appreciate you buying and reading our work, but when you take the time to let us know how you felt–it’s a thrill many of us can’t even describe.

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