Cartoon woman putting five stars on a blue wall.

Sharing Your Opinion Can Make or Break a Book!

Why do you become an instant superhero by leaving a book review on Amazon? Reviews are the primary way readers find books. Yes, really. Think about the last time you looked for a book and saw there were no reviews or only a tiny handful. Did you think twice about buying the book? Exactly.

Have you read books you loved and thought other people would love too? Did you leave a review for every one of them? Yep, me neither, but I am getting much better about it.

Why are reviews so important?

When we buy a book, we are risking anywhere from a little money to a lot, depending on the format, and we are definitely risking a fair amount of precious time. We want to know it will be worth it.

Knowing other people found the worth it, and that they enjoyed the book enough to take make the effort to write a review and tell the rest of us readers about it, makes it easier to trust our hunch that we will like the book. It really is that simple and that powerful.

We aren’t really that fickle, are we?

Yes, we are. Which is a shame, because we miss out on a lot of great books that way. Already-famous authors can get 100s of reviews posted before a book is even available, but newer authors don’t have the resources to do that.

So help a reader out an leave a review so they know real people have read and liked a book, especially if the author isn’t already a household name or backed by a powerful publisher.

But I don’t know what to write!

A reasonable anxiety, but happily one that is easy to remedy. There are lots of ways to write a review and be helpful, but if a template would help, here you go (I follow this myself when I am feeling stuck writing a review of a book I enjoyed). The extra easy part is that if you want to skip a part, you can, and if you want to add other things, you can do that, too.

  1. Did you like the book? Don’t leave readers in suspense on this or they won’t finish reading the review.
  2. What is your first reaction to the question “why did you like the book?” Characters? Plot? Premise? Trope?
  3. How did the book make you feel? Was your heart pounding? Did it give you the warm fuzzies?
  4. What was one (or more) really nifty small thing about the book? Was the setting unique? Was there an awesome pet in the story? (tell me there was an awesome dog, cat, bird, hamster, donkey, horse, llama, or potbellied pig, etc., and I WILL buy that book!)
  5. Who do you think might like it?

Caution: avoid spoilers. Readers don’t like those. Think how annoyed you would be, about to watch Casablanca for the fist time, hearing how it ended? (note, I did not say hearing [fill in in your mind how it actually ended] here because that would be a spoiler for the one poor soul left on the planet who has not yet seen the movie, and I wouldn’t do that to them). So if you use examples of things that happen in the book, stick to examples from the first half of the book or even the first quarter.

How do I leave an Amazon review?

It’s super-easy. Amazon really wants you to leave reviews for the same reason readers and authors do. It helps readers find the books they will like.

Just go to the Amazon page for the book you are reviewing and scroll down to the reviews. Right underneath the “Customer reviews” bar graphs, you will see a button that says “Write a customer review”. It will ask you to give a star rating, create a headline for your review (something like “Great Book!” or whatever you feel moved to include), and then to write your review. It will even let you include a photo.

Are reviews only on Amazon?

They are not! We tend to use Amazon as a catch-all for any book retailer, but the same holds for Kobo, Nook (Barnes & Noble), and so on. And you can also leave reviews on sites like Goodreads and BookBub. Anywhere you can leave a review will help a reader find the book so they can enjoy it too.

Does it help authors?

Yes! We write books for people to enjoy. It is way too much effort to write them only for ourselves. No reviews makes it hard for readers to find and enjoy our books. And, realistically, if readers don’t buy our books, we can’t afford to write them. Editors and covers designers don’t work for free (nor should they they!) and we need to pay those bills. The vast majority of authors you read and love need to have a day job (yes, even bestselling authors) to keep a roof over their head, and a significant proportion barely break even. Please help a scribe out!

Your mission, should you be looking for one:

Write a review, on any platform, of one book you enjoyed. The readers and authors of the world will love you for it!

I accept that challenge and am off to write a review for a book I recently finished and absolutely adored. Now that I have launched Devil in Our Hearts into the world, I finally have some time to read again!

Top image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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