I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always rush to review books that I’ve finished (or haven’t been able to finish). I do however recognize how very important reviews are, not only to the author of the book but also for potential readers.
Reviews are the lifeblood of many authors hoping to sell their books.
Whether it be on Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, your personal blog, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you do it.
I realize the hard thing is that readers are not necessarily writers and could feel intimidated in writing a review. I’m going to take all that angst away though today and give you an opportunity to simply copy the simple reviews I’ve done at the end of this post and fill in the blanks. No more excuses.
A review doesn’t need to be anymore than 50-100 words.
Let’s face it, we’re all busy and flipping through a review of 2,000 words is not going to impress me. The idea is to keep it simple and truthful while imparting the information that you want to about the book you just read.
The reviewer wields a lot power and needs to keep this in mind.
At no time should you write a review just to tear down an author or his/her work. That is counter productive and just plain nasty.
It’s okay to disagree, dislike, or even despise a piece of work but ask yourself if there is anything redeemable about the work itself. If there is, then mention it otherwise let people know that the review is your opinion.
So with that being said, why should you bother doing a book review?
A.) For the Reader:
When I go to purchase a book I check the reviews. They’re powerful and can sway me both ways–to buy or not to buy.
If a review is too positive and too gushy then I question it. Is it real? Was it a friend who did the review?
But if the review is written in a factual tone to relay the fact that the reader enjoyed the experience then I’ll look at it further. A review allows the reader to some insight into the readability, style, and tone of the author.
B.) For the Author:
Authors really need reviews because it brings them more readers, which of course means sales, which means visibility.
Having several reviews for readers to consider could mean the difference between building an audience and not.
Authors, and writers in general, are insecure folk. I know many who don’t talk about their writing because it flusters them to a point of speechlessness. For many the power is in the pen and having someone (anyone) actually read their work and make a positive comment is very validating.
So, have I convinced you yet?
Here’s the thing, you the reader are in charge. Leaving a review can be intimidating and overwhelming for some–I get that. Totally, I do. So here are five tips to help you along in doing a review.
Read the book. I know that sounds obvious but some think they should review before reading.
Go to where you’re going to post the review. Amazon or Goodreads or your blog…You decide.
List the Title of the Book, the author, and the publisher and year published (this should be just inside the front cover).
On big forums like Amazon you can search up the book and all the information will be there and it won’t be necessary to type it all out.
So now, take a deep breath and start.
You’re going to start with a short summary of the book. Don’t worry about getting fancy or having to write too much. Just pick out the things ion the book that stick out in your brain.
For example: This book is about an unhappy boy living with relatives until he goes to a boarding school for wizards and finds his true calling.
Any guesses? Of course. Harry Potter– short, sweet and to the point.
If you get completely fuddled then look at the back cover of the book to remind yourself.
You can throw in a quote or two so long as you put quotation marks and list who said it.
Did you like the book?
You don’t need to get all fancy and wordy just write your truth. I did put some words below though just in case you want to pick and choose a couple to use in your reviews.
You can say I really liked this book because…
or I didn’t enjoy this book as I found the story boring and cliche.
Whatever you think is valid in a review because its a personal opinion.
Do remember though what I said about giving a nasty/negative review just for the sake of it though.
Assign a star rating.
This is probably the toughest thing to do and something I don’t really like to do but for most places it’s the system.
I know in Goodreads. If you don’t want to review the book you can still indicate that you read it without assigning a star rating.
I think I’ve ever only given one star once and it was for a book that was professionally/traditionally published and so riddled with flaws, spelling errors, and grammatical slips that it made me angry I’d actually paid money for it.
Be aware that there are some self-published books out there that have been rushed to publication by the authors enthusiasm to get it done. If the editing process is lacking then it’s okay to say so. If there are holes in the plot, by all means mention it.
A three star rating is the middle of the road review and that’s okay. Below three then you should indicate why you’re giving a low review. If you didn’t like the story but the writing was great then you should consider both.
If you have something negative to say, try to counter balance it with something positive. Perhaps the characters sucked but the plot line was brilliant, or the writing and description made you feel like you were actually there.
I say this because I know how much work goes into writing a book. Author/writers are very sensitive beings and just because you didn’t like it doesn’t mean that there isn’t *something* good about it. This is a personal choice. You’re the one who has to write the review. Choices.
So, now that it’s all as clear as mud, I’ll offer up a couple of quick examples. Feel free to use these if it helps in the process of actually completing a review. **Remember it’s not only for other readers but for the author too.
I recently read (name of book) by (name of author). The story is about _______________________. This book was recommended to me by a friend and I really enjoyed reading it. The story held my interest and kept me reading all the way through to the end. One thing I really liked about the (story/characters/writing) was (it made me feel like part of the story/I related to the main character/I couldn’t put it down). I would recommend this book to a friend.
I recently read the nonfiction book (title) by (author name). This book is a story of the author’s adventures (through life/through Nepal/with her twelve children–whatever). I found the story to be fascinating and inspiring. I enjoyed the pictures and now have a new understanding for what it takes to (do whatever). I give this book five stars all the way.
I recently read (name of book) by (name of author). The story is about _______________________. While the writing is fine I found that there was too much (what? sex, swearing, violence…) for my taste but that is a personal opinion. I’ll give a neutral review of three star.
WOW–I recently read (name of book) by (name of author). The story is about _______________________. I couldn’t put it down. I was drawn in by the first paragraph and I finished it two days later. The pace is fast, it’s well written, and I’m still thinking about the main character. I would recommend this book to a friend.
I recently read (name of book) by (name of author). The story is about _______________________. I was so disappointed in the end that I can’t even speak. I wanted to give this book a five-star review but because at the end of the story there were things left unsettled I’ll only give it a four-star.
I recently read (name of book) by (name of author). The story is about _______________________. I really wanted to like this book. The author does a great job in building up the characters but unfortunately I feel like the plot fell flat (or whatever you think). So I’m giving this book a three star review though it should be closer to four…. I just couldn’t get past the (what–lack of depth? unbelievable ending? what?)
I’m giving a one star review to (name of book) by (name of author) because I was unable to read it due to all the errors and format problems. This book really needs another edit or two before I’d read it. Also the chapters start on the middle of odd pages which is weird. The book cover is really cool though and it looks interesting. Good luck.
Keep in mind that reviewing fiction (novels etc.) is a lot different than reviewing non-fiction (memoir, personal story etc.) so be mindful of that.
Here is a list of words/phrases you can use in your reviews.
- well written
- I couldn’t put it down
- easy to follow and fast paced
- I would recommend because…
- I wouldn’t recommend because…
- exciting and engaging
- great photographs
- the book is not a children’s book
- my favorite part was when…
- I loved the twists and turns
- I didn’t want the book to end
- I laughed out loud
- I felt like I was there
- I didn’t like the preachy feel of the author
- the story was very confusing
- this book is not for me
- I admire the courage of the writer
- I’d like to thank the author for sharing such a personal story
- totally boring
- have your tissues ready
- in need of a good editor
- too literary for me
There you go. You have no excuses whatsoever! Go write that review.