Recently I’ve started to tackle my much neglected reviewing list – reading takes a lot of time and it’s not something I’ve had much of lately. I’ve posted a couple of reviews and people have told me how much they’ve liked them, so I thought I might as well do a post on how to make reviews count. Keep in mind they’re what some people base their book purchases on – something you say about a book can have a negative or positive effect on sales.
Here are a few tips on how to make sure your reviews effective and help the author even if you didn’t orgasm over the book:
1) Be honest. If you lie and just gush and gush about how awesome the book was and then someone buys it and it sucks, they’re going to think you’re stupid. That’s how it is.
2) While one to two line reviews of: “Oh, I just loved this book!” or “This author is amazing!” are nice…they don’t tell potential readers anything. Hell, they don’t even say for sure you’ve read the book. These could just be ‘fluff’ reviews by friends and family, and often are.
3) Start your review with a short recap of the story WITHOUT SPOILERS! This can be difficult for people who don’t write blurbs…yes, I know! But, even if you just say a couple sentences about the gist of the book, it proves that you do know what its about and that you have read the story. Those are major pluses.
4) Tell what you did and didn’t like, and base your rating on the experience overall. Say what you liked about the book (after the brief telling of what the story was about) and why. (Example: The main character was my favorite because I could relate to them. Or… The details were amazing and I felt like I was there, in the story with the characters. <— Stuff like that!) Then, after you’ve said what you liked about the book, say what you didn’t like. It can be anywhere from getting lost because of a slight plot error, grammar mistakes, it was too short, it was too long, blah, blah, blah. People want to know the drawbacks as well as the pluses for a book.
5) Don’t be scared to give a 3 star or lower rating. I know authors hate these, but they are good marketing tools nonetheless. Remember earlier when I said about ‘fluff’ reviews? A prospective buyer will still buy (and is probably more than likely to buy) if they see a few not so favorable reviews. Why? Because it speaks of honesty andproves the reviews aren’t all ‘fluff’ from family and gushers. Plus, whether the author likes it or not, the not so favorable reviews will challenge them to grow and work harder.
6) Post your review as many places as possible. I generally prefer to post on Good Reads and Amazon, since those seem to be the more frequent places I’ve seen for reviews to be read. I also used to post them on my site, but I’m revamping it and will be making a blog just for book reviews. Facebook and other social networks are also good places to post your reviews. SHARE WITH FRIENDS! You don’t know, maybe they would love to read the book too. Besides, you went through all the trouble of reading the book and writing the review…don’t you want people to see it?!
7) Tell the author (if possible) that you’ve posted the review, or share the link with them. They will share it around if it’s a good one. (Yes, I know not everyone can do this because you don’t always know the author of the book you’re reading. LOL)
8) Oh, yes, and this should be a DUH! Read the entire book before reviewing it. If it’s so bad that you struggle the whole way through, you’ll want to leave a one star review expressing your disappointment in a mature way. Don’t go ranting. Keep in mind that your review is important, as it might help someone else not buy the book later. That sounds mean, doesn’t it? But, hey, if you’re that upset about the book, or hate it that much, you have as much right to tell people as the ‘gushers’. <—- This is when blind gushing makes people look stupid. Don’t gush about a crappy book.
9) Proof read your review. Again with the looking stupid thing… If you can’t even spell or use punctuation at least on a grade school level, have a friend do this for you. I can’t tell you how much I cringe when I see reviews where people can’t even spell. I instantly doubt they’re telling the truth about the book, because I assume they wouldn’t notice poorly edited crap if it was right in front of them. I’m sorry if this offends anyone, but it’s how I see things. If I see something like: “Oooo the book r gr8t” I’m going to think you’re 8 years old and shouldn’t be reading it to begin with.
10) Don’t ever, ever, ever attack an author because you didn’t like a book. You have no right to do so. You don’t know the author, so don’t go personal. One book doesn’t define a person completely. Besides, it makes you look like a crazy whack job and people just feel sorry for you and often take the author’s side.
11) At the end of the day, keep one MAJOR thing in mind when writing or reading a review… Each review is the opinion of one person, and everyone’s opinion is going to be different. You might love something someone else hated. (As an author, you can’t take bad reviews personally.)
The most important thing to remember is that reviews are important. If you love a book, tell the world. If it totally sucked, tell the world! Do both in a mature, respectful manner. Be as detailed as possible about your likes and dislikes, and keep reading because there are wonderful books hiding everywhere, waiting to be discovered.
I hope these tips have given you an idea of what it takes to write a real, effective review that will encourage/discourage people’s purchasing choices and support your favorite authors.
©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.