There comes a time in every writer’s life when a fellow writer approaches and asks:
“Will you write a review for my book for my website or back cover?”
“Will you write a review for my book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble?”
“Would you “like” my book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble?”
“Would you “like” my book on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, et al?”
What do you do? On a number of online discussions, I’ve seen many requests for “likes” and many responses in both negative and positive. Here’s what I do.
First, I decide if I want to read the book or not. Except for rare cases (see below) I won’t write a review unless I’ve read the book. If I agree to read, it’s with the caveat that I will try to get to it as soon as I can, particularly if I’m reading another book and have a top ten list of books in line. If I don’t want to read it, however, I’ll be honest and say that I’m not the right person to write a review since I usually don’t read . . . name your genre: horror, sci fi, non-fiction, etc.
For those books I do wind up reading and don’t like, I think about the positives and begin with those:
“Provocative premise for the book.”
Every book has good qualities. Really. Find them. Give that writer positive, encouraging feedback.
If the writer asks you to post a review on Amazon and you seriously don’t like it, I would be honest and say I can only give it two stars because:
“The writing is inconsistent”
“The characters are rather wooden”
“The setting is hard to visualize”
This might open the door for more conversation about how to improve the book– in your opinion, of course, which could be a good thing for both parties. And, like in critique groups, both writers come away with something valuable.
I welcome your feedback.
I’m as guilty as the next person. I read a lot of books, fiction and non-fiction. I don’t often write reviews. Yet I complain that I don’t get a lot of reviews on the books I write. So, what’s going on?
I decided to examine the reasons why I don’t write book reviews so I can forgive those who don’t write reviews for me. Maybe.
- No time. Classic excuse but I don’t buy it. It takes only a few minutes to go to Amazon or other book venues, click on “write review” and write a few lines.
- Didn’t like the book and don’t want to write a bad review. Well, I don’t have to write a “bad” review. I can constructively criticize without tearing the book apart. This does take a little bit more time, however.
- What can I say? It can be as simple as “I loved this book” or “I couldn’t put it down.” It helps to add some details such as “I loved the main character’s fortitude in dealing with her sick mother,” etc. This does help the writer plus future potential readers who are looking for stories with strong characters.
- I could compare the book with others that I’ve read, both positively and negatively. Readers like to know, “this thriller was equal to The DaVinci Code in tension,” or “this writer should leave romance to Diana Gabaldon.”
Then there are the star ratings. I definitely use them in selecting books and find them helpful when there are a lot (maybe 50 or more) of similar ratings. I rarely will select a book that has 100 2-stars, but I might consider 100 4-stars.
As a reader, I do look at reviews. I am remiss, however, in writing book reviews. Still, I wonder, why can’t I get more reviews? At the very least, from my friends, who, by the way, you cannot count on to write reviews. And perhaps, you shouldn’t.
After writing this, I am setting my own goal to write reviews on books I read in the future. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I would love to hear your experiences. Please share.