Blogger: Michelle Ule
Sitting in for the traveling Rachelle Gardner.
Why do writers always want readers to write a book review?
What difference does it make?
Here are four reasons why you’ll do a writer a favor if you’ll write a book review.
Basically, a review is like a report card for a writer.
Not the score you give, but the fact a book gets them.
The booksellers and publishers pay attention when a book garners reviews.
Amazon, in particular, has some ever-changing alchemy that determines whether the book should be publicized based on numbers of reviews.
(Who knows what that number of reviews is?)
It also indicates people are reading it.
It’s very exciting for a writer if people the writer is not related to, read their book.
We’re amazed, often, by what people discover in a book we wrote.
From the reaction of readers, a writer and their publishing house know what to emphasize in marketing the book.
Liberal gifts of five stars feel like pats on the back, especially if you don’t get any one-stars.
But even negative reviews are important.
As a reader examining reviews (Amazon, Goodreads, Publisher’s website, Barnes and Noble, Christianbooks and so forth), I pay more attention to three-and-under stars than three-and-over.
If readers go to the trouble to write a review, they must feel strongly about the book.
As noted above, reviews can drive sales.
A review demonstrates someone purchased a book.
Reviews that show up the week of a book’s launch can add momentum to sales.
Reviews also encourage readers who are just browsing to consider purchasing a book.
The more reviews, the more reactions people have had to a book.
I read reviews online rather than back-cover-copy before I purchase a book.
Better Books in the Public Eye
How does a publisher determine what should be published?
You don’t think they pay attention to reviews–particularly the numbers garnered? (See above)
If more people wrote reviews on the books they liked, they might influence the quality of books published.
Questions about Writing a Book Review
How do you write a book review?
Talk about what you liked or didn’t like about the book. If you have a problem with something the writer wrote, mention that.
If you think readers of a specific book might also enjoy this one, mention it.
Give a rating if you like.
It can be any length; shorter might be better. I don’t usually write much myself.
(For examples of terse book reviews, you’re welcome to look at my Goodreads page. Generally speaking, I don’t often review books written by Books & Such authors).
Is this the same thing as writing a book report?
No, you’re just giving your opinion about a book you read.
Can I only write a good review?
Of course not, but be fair.
Do I need to relate the entire plot?
Of course not, and we’d prefer you don’t.
If you want to talk about the plot give a vague outline–or see the back of the book copy.
Will I hurt my friend’s feelings if I give it a poor review?
Only you can answer that question. If it’s an honest review, they will swallow hard and move on.
If they even read them . . . writers are often advised not to read their reviews.
What if I don’t finish reading the book or if it’s a genre I don’t like?
Don’t bother with a review unless you can say something constructive.
What if I was given the book or I got it through the author?
You probably should note that in your review.
You can use words like, “I was given this book by the publisher and was not limited in what I could say in a review.”
Where to write reviews
Bookseller sites, Goodreads, your own blog.
Just write one for the sake of the writers, please.
Why should you write a book review? Click to Tweet
What’s the value to a writer of a book review? Click to Tweet
Dear reader, please review my book,
and please, please make it good,
for the writing of it really took
a lot, and I need to buy some food.
Prithee tell them of your inspiration,
how I made life’s questions crystal clear,
’cause, man, I’ve got some dehydration;
last weekend I ran out of beer.
Amazon’s been chary of real high ratings
so give it maybe just four stars
to avoid the stain of fake-gilt-plating;
more sales, for me, means more cigars.
Don’t say I’m greedy, that’s not true;
I mean, the book’s called “It’s All For YOU!”
You could be John Lennon!
Imagine I’m a Beatle…
it’s easy if you try.
I’ll get rich on retail…
from all the books they buy…
Great post, Michelle. Reviews are so important. And I try to write them for a good portion of the books I read, even if they are just quick reviews. When I influence for a book, I try to spend more time on what I write, but for that reason, I don’t influence for a lot of people. I always find it interesting to read what others write about books I’ve read. 😉
I tend not to leave a review for a book if I can’t give it at least 3 stars, in part because I know how long it takes to write a book. I don’t want to hinder sales or be a discouragement to the person, if that makes sense. Maybe I’m off in my thinking, but that’s how I usually roll with reviews. 🙂
I liked the questions and suggestions you shared to use for writing a review. They’re helpful!
Hi Michelle, –This is a tough one. I don’t mind writing reviews, but I’m so afraid of writing one for a book I didn’t particularly like, thinking what if I got one of these? Also, I think about the low number of reviews for independently published books that I’ve been involved with as a co-author, (though mostly good, they’re still few in number) and could affect the acceptance of my work by an agent who sees them…and other “what ifs”. Thank you for this–a lot to consider.
I actually look to see why I had such a negative reaction to a book— was I the only one?
Therefore, I feel it is okay to write a negative review— particularly if I can articulate why the book troubled me.
I don’t know that publishing houses look at reviews— as far as I know agents at B&S don’t.
But if I’m paying good money for a book, I’d like to know what others found objectionable so I don’t waste my money or time on the book.
I much prefer a nuanced review than once that praises the book but fails to mention problems with scenes, logic, errors in grammar or assaults on beliefs.
That enables me to make an informed decision about the book.
Just write the review— the number of reviews benefits the author more than a poor one.
Morgan Tarpley Smith
Great reminder why book reviews matter. Thanks! Now to get on the writing if them. ?
Mary Kay Moody
I usually do a review of books I read ~ on Amazon or Goodreads, if not on my blog. Why? Because I’m picky about what I read so am grateful to the author for their effort and usually eager to encourage others to read it. Writing a review is a small thing we can do to say “thanks” and to influence the powers that be to publish more like it. 🙂 Hope you’re in the process of writing another, Michelle.
Of course! LOL