Monday, July 8, 2013

You finished reading, now what?

What is the hardest thing to do after reading a book? Choosing your next book? Squeezing into your already overstuffed bookshelf? Remembering to return it to the library? Writing a review?

For most people, it is writing a review. But that could be the easiest. And why go through all that trouble?

Reading is largely a solitary activity. So readers depend on other readers to help them choose what to read next. Especially when selecting ebooks, when you aren’t standing in a bookstore and able to read a few pages. The number of reviews and the average number of stars can greatly affect whether or not someone buys a book. If there are 9 reviews and they are all five stars, you have to think they were written by the author’s mother, sister and best friends. But 428 reviews with an average of 4 ½ stars and you know the book is probably pretty good.

There are just five very simple steps in writing a good review. And remember, a book review is not a book report like you had to do in fourth grade. It is your opinion of the book and how it is written.

     STEP ONE       What is the book about?

DO  say what it is about in very simple, basic terms, especially if it is a mixed genre book. “It is a vampire coming of age story” or “It is a mystery with a little romance.” “It is a sci-fi novel that takes place on an orbiting space colony.”

DON`T   tell the story. There is nothing worse that reading a review that spoils the book. “Romeo and Juliet is a love story but they both die in the end.” “The mystery is so well written I hardly guessed the butler is the murderer.”

      Did you like the book?

DO   be honest and specific. “The story was pretty good but the characters seemed flat and unlikable.” “The story was so engrossing I stayed up all night to finish it.”

DON’T  attack the book or the author. But don’t idolize unrealistically, either. “I can’t believe someone could actually write this @&#)!” “This author is so wonderful she could write the phone book and make it a best seller!”

     STEP THREE        Would (or wouldn’t) you recommend this book?

DO  stop and think about whether or not the author wrote for the target audience. “This is a slasher spoof that hard-core horror readers might find too silly.” “There are several steamy scenes in this book that I wouldn’t want my teenage daughter reading.”

DON’T compare it to a classic unless it really holds up. “This adventure story makes the Lord Of The Rings seem like Dr. Seuss.” “This book is even more intense than Dean Koontz or Stephen King could write.”

     STEP FOUR       How would you rate it?

DO honestly think about how it compares to other books. Is it the best book you have ever read, or at least in the top ten? Then give it 5 stars. Is it really good, but not one you would bring with you on a desert isle if you could only bring a handful of books? Then give it four stars. A good book that is worth reading if you like that type of thing and it was on sale? Then three stars is fine.

DON’T automatically give every book you like five stars. Give it four and reserve that fifth star for something really outstanding. And don’t give a book only one (or none) stars unless you can justify it objectively. So full of typos and misspellings it looks like a first draft? Incoherent dialog? Then say so.

     STEP FIVE        Publish your review.

Go back to the website where your bought the book and add the review. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc all have places for readers to post reviews. There is also Goodreads. You can’t purchase a book from Goodreads, but it is often the go to resource for readers to find out what people are reading and how much they like it. You can publish the same review on multiple sites. Just type it into your word processing program and copy/paste it to each site.

That’s all there is to it. Three or four sentences, a rating and publish. It usually only takes a minute or two and authors and other readers will love you for it.

by  Kelly Erickson


  1. Very sound advice! Love it! Definitely sharing! I think if more people were sure how to go about writing a helpful review, more people would write them!

    I know when I was asked to write a review for a book I read I was terrified. I had no idea what I was doing. Fantastic post! <3

    ~Konstanz Silverbow

    1. Feel free to share this with anyone else who might be a little nervous about reviewing a book.
      -- Kelly

  2. Excellent how to! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Thank you. Feel free to share it.
      -- Kelly

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I've been looking for information to improve my reviews so that I provide a better blog and a better service to my fellow readers.