You too can be a book reviewer

It’s said that love makes the world go ’round. I have, however, observed that it’s reviews that make the book world go around.

When you shop online for a book, do you check out how many stars the book has received from reviewers? Do you browse the reviews? If you have to choose between two books, do the stars and the review text influence your decision?

You’re not alone; most people look at reviews on amazon, GoodReads, Facebook, blogs, and anywhere else they’re posted — and these reviews influence buying decisions. So it really means the world to authors when their work receives reader reviews.

If you enjoyed a particular book, the nicest thing you can do to let the author know that his/her work pleased you is to write an online review. You don’t need a blog, and you needn’t write a voluminous review; a few words will suffice. Some suggestions: “I liked the author’s integration of characters from another favourite book into this story.” Or “Detailed descriptions of places made you feel as if you are actually there.” Or maybe “Could not find even one error of spelling or word usage” or “I liked the flow of the story.”

You do not need to be an author yourself to write a review! Just think about what you would tell a friend if you were recommending the book to them, and write it down. Review done!

How about if you did not like the book? If there is a reason other than “I didn’t like the story,” then explain it simply and courteously. “It was too long and the story meandered.” “It was too short to really get into the characters and events.” “Spelling was poor” or “Too many incorrect homophones.” “One of the story lines was never resolved.”

Some reviewers who don’t like a book seem to be almost vindictive in their reviews, as if they want to punish the author for not writing a book they liked. Revealing and describing salient plot points — i.e., spoilers — is very unkind. If you did not like the book, you can always return it; you don’t need to damage the author’s credibility or ruin the story for future readers just because it wasn’t your own cup of tea.

Remember what all of our moms told us: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!

Here are some additional tips for writing good, useful reviews.

And here are some books recently featured at Every Savage Can Dance to start you off. If you’ve read them, and especially if you’ve enjoyed them, please take a few minutes to leave a review. If you have not yet read them, follow the link to buy a copy, and then leave a review after you’ve read it.

Believe me, an author will thank you when you do! (Speaking of which, Many Thanks to Claudine Pepe at Just Jane 1813 for her lovely review of Desperate Hearts. If you have not yet read this book, do stop by to read her review and enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the e-book)


Please take a moment to let me know what you think: Click the Leave a Comment link at the top left-hand corner of this post. Thank you!


Buy it/Review it here
Buy it/Review it here
Buy it/Review it here
Buy it/Review it here
Buy it/Review it here
Buy it/Review it here
Buy it/Review it here
Buy it/Review it here

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14 thoughts on “You too can be a book reviewer

  1. I absolutely agree, reviews mean a lot to the authors. But out of respect for the effort, I don’t write negative reviews. If I can’t give 4 or 5 starts, I won’t write a review. It’s just me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comments about reviews and I agree, they are so important to the authors. Also, since I’m a mod on a JAFF forum, I’d like to add that comments on the forums are also greatly appreciated. Those who don’t write, have no idea how much goes into putting out a story. The authors are very appreciative in that venue as well, since they get immediate feedback which is not only encouraging, but helpful before they publish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would be boring and unbelievable, if there were only positive reviews, Janis. 😉 I’ve just taken an easy way, leaving the task od criticizing to other reviewers. 🙂 I just wish that all negative reviews were fair, without personal or hatful attacks against a book / author. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s always good to see helpful reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I agree, they need not be long. Just a couple of lines –as if you were sharing with a friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. When I particularly enjoy a variation, I always leave a very good review on Amazon because I wish to share my discovery and help the author gain a wider audience. However, I confess that I have left a few negative reviews – and I agree with you that we should explain why we disliked the book, otherwise it is useless. For me to do that, there must be several factors, poor style, a week plot, unbelievable events, and a non-respect of Austen’s original characters. If I am disappointed by the book for some reason, but I think it is a good book, well written, I will simply leave a 3-star review.

    The reason why I write negative reviews is because I find them useful, and always read them when available. It helps me narrow down my choice when the reviewer explains why they gave a poor note, because I know that I will not appreciate certain choices made by the author. Jane Austen has been an important part of my life during difficult times, and I fail to comprehend how some authors seem not to respect her beloved characters. If it were any other book than a variation, I would simply not care and forget about it. But I am a strange creature full of emotions and litterary standards 🙂

    Tastes in litterature are so personal that I try to be as honest as I can, whether I adored, liked, disliked a variation, or if it was just so-so. Even 5-star reviews can be misleading as I have been disappointed several times by generous reviews published on various blogs.

    So, to summarise, I always leave 5-star reviews when I think an author is outstanding, I sometimes leave 3- or 4-star reviews (I do not review every book I read – I read too many…), and have left a few 1- or 2-star reviews – not that I particularly enjoy writing them but since I find them useful, I assume that others do as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nathalie, I love your explanation. And I read negative reviews (the ones you described, that give reasons for bad rating). I just can’t make myself do it, that’s all. But I don’t want fair reviewers to stop writing them, it’s just not going to be me. 🙂

      About 3 star reviews: unfortunately when you check reviews on Amazon, and it shows you two columns, 1- positive reviews, 2- negative reviews. # star reviews show in the ‘negative reviews’ column. So if a reviewer stated, that it’s a good book and they enjoyed it, it shouldn’t be showing as a negative review, but it does. That’s why I won’t write anything below 4 stars. But again, it’s just me, and it makes me feel good. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with Nathalie. I tend to read low-star reviews when I buy because a well-written one star review can actually encourage a reader who likes that sort of book to buy it. It’s all a matter of opinion sometimes, and what I like may be why the low review. In addition, a one-star review that hones in on the reader’s objections to the book can help a conscientious author improve his/her craft They may even pull the book briefly to correct editing errors or anachronisms in respect of future readers–I know 4*+ authors who do this.

    That said, I avoid writing Amazon reviews for JAFF in case there’s a perception of a conflict of interest, since I’m friends with many, many JAFF authors. A positive review may be seen as biased due to friendship and a negative review might be seen as sour grapes due to jealousy that the author is better than me. I’d have to not know the author or his/her friends at all to dare review JAFF on Amazon.

    Some complain that the review should be just about the book, and not about the Amazon buying experience. I disagree. Though I would not dock stars for a bad situation outside of my reading experience, if someone makes a purchase, the review content is their choice. It’s an opportunity to send a signal back to everyone who needs to pull up their socks. If it’s carefully justified, balanced, and not mean-spirited, any review is worthwhile feedback.

    The only reviews I have issue with are those who complain about items clearly on the purchase page. Did they buy the book with their eyes closed? In particular, those that complain they didn’t like some aspect of the premise bug me. That’s the book’s highlights, and those aspects won’t be minimized! Even for freebies, I read the premise and check star count and length of book before I hit “buy.” Then I know what I’m getting into and can write a fair, unbiased review.

    Thanks for the excellent examples to jump-start readers who are shy about reviews, Janis. Perhaps a few of the readers will go back to their Amazon buys and give much-appreciated feedback.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Confession time! I love to read but I’m pretty useless about getting around to writing reviews – I’d much rather be reading my next book.

    Having read your post, Janis, and the comments above, you’ve all possibly given me enough of a kick up the backside so that I’ll be more conscientious in future. I have written reviews from time to time, but it always takes me ages, which is why I tend to be lax about it. Maybe I should take Elizabeth Bennet’s advice and practice more!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your comments on blogs Anji are excellent, I always look for them. I was looking for your reviews on Amazon as well, now I know why I couldn’t find any. 😦


    1. That’s very kind of you to say so Kate. I started off with good intentions last year, and posted some reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, and Audible if it was an audiobook, but then I developed a back problem which meant I couldn’t sit for any length of time. So I ended up spending my sitting time reading rather than writing reviews. I haven’t yet got back into the habit this year but I have some free time coming up next month and will try to catch up reviewing this year’s reads.


      1. P.S. You’ll find me on Amazon as Anji Dale and Goodreads as just Anji. My avatar in both places is the same as here and the other blogs.


  8. Great post, Janis! And as an author, reviews are REALLY important. One of the factors that determines how much visibility a book receives on Amazon is related to the number of reviews–particularly reviews by verified purchasers. More reviews = more visibility to potential customers = more sales for the author.

    An author’s grand slam is to be accepted for an ad on Bookbub–who also carefully considers the number and quality of reviews. So by leaving a review of a book you like, you really are helping the author. And as Janis mentioned, it doesn’t have to be long. Casual browsers are actually more likely to read a review if it’s short. Just a few sentences telling specifically why you did (or didn’t) like the book, and who would (or wouldn’t) enjoy it.


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