Reviewing Books; There is NOTHING to be afraid of.

Happy new year everyone!

For goodness knows how long, I have been reviewing every book that I have enjoyed reading. I’ve been writing ‘I like this book because it was about… and so on’ always with a star rating.

I never used to review books, because I used to think ‘who cares what I thought?’ This was wrong, reviews are very important to readers, I can only surmise as to why; perhaps if we readers see that lots of people have reviewed a book, this means that lots of people have read it. I know us Brits are always keen to get in a queue – even if we don’t know what we’re queuing for! Therefore, in turn, reviews are also important to self-published authors (like myself; hint-hint).

In the back of my mind, I worried about the ‘quality’ of the reviews… As a reader, I NEVER look at reviews, it’s always the blurb, or the recommendation that gets me to read a book, but that’s just me obviously I’m not the only reader.  From what I have gleaned, Amazon and Goodreads are the main two sites to review books you have bought and read, or if you want to read a review before you choose your next read.

So if we consider that reviews are written for readers, I should think about that when writing my reviews. There are guidelines available on Amazon, they are not specific to books, but well worth taking note of. On Goodreads, there is a guide as to what the star ratings mean – I’m sure most people are familiar with this. Aside from the guidelines on both these sites, I recently spoke with some people in the know a real-life writing group, and an internet (Facebook) very popular writing group used by authors, bloggers, people in the industry and readers.  Thanks to their help, here is a little bullet point guide about good points to include in book reviews:

  • A few sentences is fine.
  • What did you think of the setting?
  • Write a bit about the characters, did they work for you?
  • Plot
  • Pacing of story
  • Quality of prose.
  • NO SPOILERS!
  • What did you enjoy?
  • How it made you feel (this was a very popular point).
  • Never write anything intentionally cruel.

This has really helped me to put together a review, without repeating the blurb and so on.

A note on Amazon’s website. I’m not the best on computer instructions, so I hope you can understand this. Open Amazon’s website, look at the top toolbar, which is black. Click on your Amazon (so when I open it, it says ‘Samantha’s Amazon’) Then click on ‘view orders’ there will be a list of the books you have bought from Amazon, the list on the right gives you an option ‘write a product review’ click on this, write your review (don’t just leave a star rating because that doesn’t show up) and submit.

If you borrowed the book from a library for example, you can still leave a review but you have to search for the book and then repeat ‘leave a review’ – might be worth checking Amazon’s guidelines. You do have to be an Amazon customer.

Goodreads I think you have to set up an account and then search for the book you want to review and then go for it. If you are reading from a kindle, there is an automatic link at the end nowadays.

A further note about communicating in real life. When I spoke to someone from the real-life writing group, she said she wasn’t in the habit of leaving reviews – but if she enjoyed a book, she always told a friend about it, and sometimes passed the book on. Bravo! Real life reviewing – word of mouth. Fantastic! We should all be talking about reading!

Happy reviewing! Samantha xx

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