Every now and then, I decide that my real purpose in life is to review books. I love books. Adore them. I can get so lost in their pages that it takes a supreme effort to drag myself back to reality. But a funny thing happens when I finally turn the last page--I don't know what to say about it. Other than "I loved it, loved it, loved it!" or "Bleh. It was OK."
is enough to make a girl crawl back to her computer to churn out another novel, which suddenly seems easier by comparison. And yet, my dear friends, a
review does not need to be a twenty page treatise on the class structure in
in order to be valuable. It doesn’t need .gifs of Inigo Montoya from the
Princess Bride in order to be accessible. Wuthering Heights
I'm telling you this for a very important reason. Less than one month from now, my first novel is being published. I hope you read it. I hope you love it. And I hope you review it. I need you to review it. Word of mouth and reviews are an indie author's most important marketing tools. There is no way for a novel to do well without it.
I suspect that most people just peruse book reviews anyway. They are looking for keywords that will tell them if this book will be a good fit for them. So--in case you get as freaked out by writing book reviews as I do, may I introduce Book Reviews 101. This is the simple version. If you figure out you love it and want to go the extra mile, there are definitely resources out there for you. But this is the way to show your support for your new favorite authors without it taking too much time.
How To Write A Book Review
The two main sites where I check for book reviews are amazon and goodreads. Both sites make reviewing a book fairly simple. Since amazon has one extra step (the title) I will use it as the example.
It will ask you to give the book 1-5 stars. There is no option for zero stars, so 1 is as low as it gets. This is the easiest part, but it is the most important. Many people look at the cover, read the blurb and look at these star ratings when deciding whether to buy a book.
1 star=I hated it, didn't finish it or wish I hadn't read it.
2 stars=I didn't like it.
3 stars=It is OK
4 stars=I liked it.
5 stars=I loved it!
Write a title for your review. Blerg. I have a hard enough time writing titles for my books, let alone for every single review. But don't let this get to you. Skip to the review, write it, and then pick out the best sentence to be your title. Or use some generic ones, like these:
I couldn't finish it.
was like watching a train wreck. Except boring.
*Except never say this, because it is rude. Always be polite.
Not my cup of tea.
A good read.
I'm glad I read this.
A great book!
Can't wait for the sequel.
I couldn't put it down!
A new favorite.
Not just for teenagers!
Write the review
For amazon, the review needs to be at least 20 words. So don't get scared. Just think about what you would want to say to the author, or to another friend who recently read the book. Like:
"Did you finish it? You did! Oh my gosh..." The very next sentence that would come out of your mouth is what you want to write about in your review--minus the spoilers. Instead of "Could you believe it when Jace..." you could write:
"Jace is absolutely the sexiest character ever written. Pain-filled and funny. Isolated but loveable. A hero and yet vulnerable. Swoon."
"I wish I could go to Hogwarts."
"It was pretty lucky that they were the only people on the WHOLE PLANET who thought of going to the grocery store to stock up on food and medical supplies. This finally got so unbelievable I had to give up. I couldn't finish this book."
If you still don't know what to say, write about one of these things:
The characters. Who was your favorite character? Why?
The imagery. The descriptions.
The pacing of the plot. Was it so action packed that you couldn't put it down? Was it slow but enjoyable?
The believability. When did you forget these characters weren't real? Or when did you roll your eyes and think "Oh, for crying out loud"?
How it reminded you of real life. Did it trigger memories for you? Did it take you back to your first kiss or the day you were bullied by that fifth grader?
Your emotions. Did you laugh? Did you cry? Did you throw the book? Did you forget to pick up your kids? Did you set the book down and forget about it for weeks?
The next book. Will you rush out and get it? Don't really care? Join the throngs of people waiting for its release? Wish there was going to be a next book?
If all else fails, read some other reviews and see if they trigger an idea. Give writing your review a shot before you do this though. Your opinion matters, and so do your words.
When you are finished, click "preview your review". It will show you what it looks like. Reread it to check for mistakes and then click "Publish." That's all there is to it.
You have done a valuable service for mankind. You have helped readers decide whether or not they will enjoy a book. You may have helped them to steer clear of something that would be a waste of their time and money. But hopefully, you have helped pump up your favorite author's sales so they can continue writing.
Thank you for that.