Writing reviews is probably one of the very best ways you can help your favourite authors (besides buying their books). On sites like Amazon, once a book has a certain number of reviews the platform "rewards" it by showing it in the "Also bought" lists. Some readers and book newsletters won't even consider reading a book until it has 25, 50, or even 100 reviews. So your review really can make a difference!
However, what makes a good review? Here are the "3 Rs" of writing a good book review.
The most helpful reviews are rated honestly, but with enough explanation for other readers to know why you rated it that way. Do you think it deserved 5 stars? Why? Give details. Only 1 or 2 stars? Great. Why did you rate it so low? Be as specific as possible.
Giving specifics like "the plot moved too slowly" or "I thought the characters were boring/well drawn" gives not only other potential readers enough information to see if they might feel the same way, but also helps the author to see weaknesses (and strengths!) in their own writing, or why their book just didn't appeal to you.
Maybe you like faster-paced books and were expecting a suspense thriller but ended up with a dramatic women's fiction so gave it only two stars. Someone else who enjoys a slowly unfolding plot may look at your review and think, "Perfect!" And the author will learn that something in their presentation misrepresented the book.
If you feel like you must rate it poorly but explain why, you will also help the author avoid more low ratings from those with similar tastes as you.
Saying "I loved it!" is nice, but it would be more helpful to tell us why you felt that way. I've seen 3-star reviews that still made me want to read the book because the reviewer was specific. More along the lines of "The pacing kept the book moving, and I loved the fun and interesting historical details. The main character is deliciously flawed, and someone I could totally relate to. She reminded me of So-and-so from Another Book. However, I was disappointed that there was ___ in the book, which is something I don't enjoy."
On a similar note, try to use interesting words--these are much more "quotable" than simply saying "It was great!" Choose words like "riveting, page-turning, fast-paced, heart-stopping, masterful storytelling" etc., for better description and quote potential. These "quotable reviews" are what authors love to put on their book landing pages, liner notes, and blurbs, and are one more way to help your favourite author sell their book.
Make sure you read your review several times before you post it. Check for:
- An interesting title (at least somewhat). I like to use a phrase like, "I couldn't put it down" or a description like "Enchanting and heartwarming."
- Spelling and punctuation errors
- Makes sense/flows well. Reading it aloud is the easiest way to check this one.
And that's it! Post it knowing that you helped other readers and the author, too.
Do you have something to add? Please leave me a comment below. I love hearing from my readers, and updating this article will take, well, less than two minutes. :-)