Essays, general essay

How to Write a Book Review

Bookshelf of Anne's books to illustrate How to Write a Book Review
If you liked any of these, will you please write a review or two?

This is a slightly updated re-post from a couple summers ago. I was reading an article recently that the best way to show how to write a book review was to give readers a form, which I could buy. Actually, there are only three, easy questions to answer. Hope you enjoy it!

I saw a meme on Facebook some time ago, pointing out that when someone reads a book they like, the nice thing to do is to go to Amazon (or Goodreads or Nook) and write a review. And, let’s be real, most of us won’t. Mostly, it’s because there aren’t enough hours in a day as it is. But I suspect it’s also because many of us simply do not know how to write a book review.

I can’t do anything about the time problem. But I can show you how to write a simple review that will be reasonably helpful to others thinking about buying a book and keep the bots happy at Amazon.com.

As to why you should, well, the simple truth is that we authors live and die by reviews. For some reason, buyers think that if a book doesn’t have a lot of reviews, it must not be that good. Either that or the bots on Amazon figure not enough people are interested for the book to show up in their recommendations, which makes it harder to find. Nor is Amazon making it any easier to get those reviews. I’ve heard from several sources that Amazon is taking down reviews made by people it has determined are friends of the author. Which is really annoying, since the first bit of advice you get when marketing your book is to ask all your friends to write a review. That being said, what Amazon is trying to prevent is authors getting their friends to post a stack of five-star reviews for an otherwise only okay book. It has happened.

Three easy questions for writing a review

So, if you want to do good and build up your Karma, in general, here’s an easy way to write a review for that last potboiler you liked. And remember, this isn’t about being graded or writing great literature. All you’re trying to do is help someone else decide whether they want to buy the book or not, and the best way to do that is to just put down your basic impressions. In fact, it helps if you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what you’re writing. Just write.

Pick your star rating. I’ll usually post three or four stars, seldom five, unless the book was genuinely life-changing.

Then, in the box, what you want to write are three to five sentences about what you did and didn’t like about the book. Basically, answer these three questions:

1.) What did I like about the book? Was it funny? Did it make me cry? Did I like a character? Was it really interesting? Did I learn something new? Even if all the book did was make you feel good, then that’s what you write. It was a fun, relaxing read. It really brought an issue to life. Things like that. You can write about two sentences. If you’re having a hard time thinking of something specific, close your eyes and think of the book. The scenes that leap to mind are probably what you liked best about it. And unless they’re the end, you can describe those scenes. If you really liked how the book ended, just say that because we all know spoilers are no fun.

2.) What didn’t I like about the book? Was it hard to read? Did a character really get on your nerves? We’re none of us perfect, so if there’s a small flaw, you may want to note it.

3.) How did the book make me feel overall? Was I satisfied? Did I want more? Did something feel left out? Was the book relaxing? Intellectually stimulating? Just plain silly? So wonderfully sad, I can’t stop crying?

Answer those three questions and the next thing you know, you’ve written a review. And if you want some examples, here’s the link to Death of the Zanjero on Amazon.com. Scroll down for the reviews.

Anne Louise Bannon

Please talk to me. I'd love to hear from you.

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