How to Write an Excellent, Well Written Book Review and Why
By Pastor George McVey (words in red are me injecting my own thoughts or comments)
Can I talk to you the reader for a minute? I and every other author you know [Me too!] needs your help. I’m serious. If you know an author who has books listed on Amazon, then they need your help. No, I’m not asking you to buy more books, though that would help us, as well. I’m talking about leaving excellent reviews.
I bet as a reader you don’t know how important it is to leave a review for that book you just finished. Let me give you some interesting information you might not know. Lot’s of readers choose the book they read next by the reviews they see at places like Amazon.com or Goodreads.com. If they don’t see any reviews or if the reviews they see aren’t well written, they may pass on the book.
Not only does leaving a review help readers pick a good book but here are a few other benefits that Author’s get from having a lot of well written reviews. I bet you didn’t know that after an author gets 25 reviews [and this number changes all the time] on Amazon, the company begins to include them in their “Also bought” and “you might like this” lists. This increases that books visibility on Amazon and helps put the book in front of more potential readers. That helps to boost sales.
When a book gets 50 or more reviews, Amazon highlights that book for spotlight positions in its monthly newsletter. This put’s the author’s book in front of literally hundreds of thousands of potential readers. This can mean a huge boost in sales for your favorite author.
Are you one of those readers who get emails from sites that promote books that are free or on sale? I bet you didn’t know that almost all of those sites require a certain number of high star reviews before you can submit your book. For example, before submitting a book to E-Read New Today an author must have a minimum of 10 reviews that are 4 star of above. Some places require even more. One place that I list my nonfiction books when they are free requires 60 four star or above reviews. Without readers leaving those reviews, your favorite author can’t use these advertising tools.
The final reason your need to not just leave a review but leave a well written review is because of a new app that came out recently called “Fakespot.” This app claims to be able to tell you how many reviews on a certain book or product are fake. By that they mean not posted by customers but by friends, relatives of authors or are bought reviews. How they determine if a review is fake is based on the quality of the review. So Let me give you some Do’s and Don’ts that will help you write an Excellent and Honest Review
Guidelines for Excellent Reviews.
1.Do be honest. If the book was good, then say that. If it was bad then say that. People are more articulate when they believe what they are saying. Every author I know, would rather have your honest review than for you to just say “It was great.” We don’t need you to pump us up if we don’t deserve it. We want to write the best stories or information books we can. If you tell us it was perfect, then tell everyone you know how it blew chunks, that doesn’t help us.
2. Don’t leave a 5 word or less review. This is one of the things that Fakespot considers a bogus review. For instance, a review that says “It was great.” Without saying why it was great, is not really a review at all; and will be considered by this App as less than honest. Let me tell you what I think has started happening. Now Amazon has a link at the end of every Kindle book to leave a review right from your E-Reader. However, most people don’t like typing on those tiny keyboards, or hard to use touchscreen keyboards. Because of that, people leave a single word or just a few words review.
The purpose of leaving a review is to help other readers decide if they want to read the book. We have all been taught an informed customer is a smart customer, so we do our research before we make a purchase. We only have so much time to read in this hectic world of ours, so we use reviews to help us decide if the book is worth our time. “It was good.” Or “Awesome” or “Loved it” don’t help anyone else decide if the book is for them. Tell why you loved it. What made it a good book? Describe the awesomeness. The same is true if you feel you must leave a terrible review. Tell us what made it terrible, how did it suck? You get the picture, use your words.
3 Do share your review once you’ve written it. Post a link to it on your Facebook. Pin it, tweet it. Heck, even blog about it if you want. Those reviews don’t help us sell more books unless people see them.
4.Don’t review things that weren’t about the book. I can’t tell you the number of authors who have poor reviews that talk about a problem they had with the place they got the book. We as authors have no control over which device the book was downloaded from. We don’t control the font size of the book the reader does. (There’s a place on you E-reader where you adjust that.) We didn’t charge you twice, the bookseller did. Don’t post a one or two-star review because of something the bookseller did. Reviews are about the story and cover themselves. Not about the process of getting the book. If you have one of the above listed problems then contact Amazon or the book provider.
5.Do check your spelling and grammar. Nothing makes a review look more like a fake, than someone who used bad grammar and spelling. Books are made up of words and grammar; if yours seems poor, then people who read your review will think- “They can’t even spell or follow basic grammar, they must not have read this book. I’m not saying you have to be perfect, but if you can’t tell the difference between think and thank; people will wonder if you can even read. Seriously it happens.
6.Don’t tell the plot of the book. No one and I mean NO ONE likes spoilers. A good review talks about why you liked the book; it doesn’t give away the plot and/or details of the book. Nothing is worse for an author, than a review that tells everything that happens in the book. If you do that in a review, what reason does the potential reader have to read the book? You already described the whole thing to them. Imagine you are looking for a good mystery book, and you think the cover and book blurb make the mystery sound interesting. So you want to see what those who have read it have to say about it. You go to the reviews, and the first one you read gives the book five stars; then tells you who did it, why they did it, and how they did it. No mystery left for you. This is not a quality review, its a spoiler without a warning.
7.Do make sure you are reviewing the right book. I’ve had this problem myself. I received a 1-star review, and the guy was saying why he didn’t like my book. Yet nothing he talked about was in my book. I’ve talked with other authors who’ve had similar experiences. If you are going to review a book, make sure it’s the right book. Read the book blurb. Look at the cover. If your using your computer to write it, get out your E-reader and look up the name and author of a book. Some people don’t know this, but more than one book can have the same title. I have a book out called Redeeming Love, so does another dozen authors including, Francine Rivers. Imagine the confusion, if a review of her book which is a historical romance, but not a western, was posted to my book which is a western with some romance in it. Or if a review of my Redeeming Love was posted to her book reviews. The reader would not get the book they thought they were getting.
8 Do contact the Author if you find a ton of spelling, grammar, and formatting mistakes. We know they shouldn’t happen, but they do. Personal example, I paid over $300.00 for editing on my book Redeeming Grace. It was money well spent and I made all the changes the editor suggested. However, when I went to upload the content to Amazon I used the wrong file, the unedited file. I messed up. But a reader contacted me and said this is so much a lower quality than your books are normally. What happened? I went to Amazon and very quickly noticed, yep, I uploaded the wrong file. I re-uploaded the right file and informed Amazon, who in turn, informed everyone who bought the book so they could re-download and get the correct version. However, I’ve had friends who’ve gotten poor reviews on bad grammar, spelling and formatting. This keeps readers from reading the book, even after it’s been corrected. So give the author the benefit of the doubt, and contact them first to see if they will fix it. Give them some specific examples if you can of what you’re referring to. Again, most indie authors want to put out the best product they can. Most will correct the problems and respond to the reader with a thank you. If you don’t get that after say a month then check to see if a new version is up. Your kindle or e-reader should let you know when that happens. If it still hasn’t been corrected don’t leave a review, contact amazon. They will put a hold on the book, till the author fixes it.
As you can see, it isn’t hard to leave a great, well written review if you just follow these eight simple guidelines. In the end, the author will love you for it. [Yes, we will!] Other readers will love you for it, and maybe, just maybe Fakespot won’t think your review is a fake review.
Thank you George McVey! This is excellent information!
And Thank you, readers for helping me with this important task.
What do you think? Do you post reviews? Why? Why not. Does this make the task less daunting? I sure hope so and I thank you for taking the time to post a review. To help make your task even easier, here’s the link to my author page on Amazon.
One more time, here’s this helpful little banner: