We’ve all seen them. Internet memes urging you to leave book reviews.
Memes say things like, “Feed an author. Leave a review” or “Help an author. Leave a review.” The point is simple. Authors need reviews. There’s no getting around it. Oh, and here’s one for you just because it felt weird to write about review memes without having one. Peer pressure. It’s a killer.
But let’s face it. Book reviews can be daunting, and not everyone wants to read a book with a notepad beside them jotting down ideas for a review. You want to read the book, not do a book report.
So, that brings me to my first point.
What Reviews Are Not:
In our world where information bombards us at every turn, we forget that things like product and book reviews don’t have to be complicated. So here you go. What a book review is not!
- It’s not a book report. You don’t have to tell us everything that happened and all the symbolism involved.
- It’s not a “Pinterest Moment.” You don’t have to make it pretty, you don’t have to make it sound intelligent or cute.
- It’s not a place to post your opinions on the genre, the author’s other works (aside from quick mentions that you loved or hated and this is different), or even the publishing industry.
- It’s not a complaint forum for delivery issues. If the book came late, if the Kindle version didn’t download properly, if the packaging was all crumpled–whatever. This doesn’t help a reader know what is inside those pages, and THAT is what a book review (or product review) is for. You injure authors and manufacturers for lowering the star rating because of a glitch or a shipper issue that they cannot control.
So what ARE reviews?
- A short-cut for those considering the book. They read the synopsis and aren’t sure. Maybe they’ve never heard of the author or the last book they read wasn’t up to snuff. They want to see what others thought.
- A peek at what is great about a book, and that says why you’d want to read it.
- A peek at what wasn’t so great about a book, and that says why you might not!
- In short, reviews are a few extra words to help someone decide if what’s between the covers is worth their time and money.
But they take so much time!!!
They don’t have to. I promise. I have four things you should put in a review. Just four. You don’t have to limit yourself like this, but if you want to leave reviews (and I want to hug you for wanting to), and find them daunting or you don’t have time, just throw these four things into a quick blurb on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
- What you loved: it could be a character, a setting, a funny line, how well it was edited, the time period, the cover, the last page when the horrible thing was FINALLY OVER. Just pick one. Don’t try to do it all. You’ll want to sometimes, but unless you just LOVE to write reviews, don’t do it! Keep it short and snappy. “I loved the repartee between the ‘dragon’ and the prince.” (Everard)
- What you hated: It could be the editing (but try not to pitch a fit if there are a dozen errors in a 50k word book. 99.9% accuracy gives that 50 errors! 12 isn’t optimal, but it’s not worth killing a star or three over). Maybe you hated the way the main character whined and cried over everything (I felt that way about Elsie Dinsmore), or you hated that the bad guy was never all that bad (I felt that way in Daisies Are Forever). Maybe in a Christian Fiction book, you found smut or language. Maybe you just hated that it ended and you wanted more. (Like the emails I get about Past Forward and HearthLand).
- What made you laugh: Something almost always does–even if it’s the ludicrousness of one tragedy after the next. Go for it! Put down the line that kept you chuckling every time you thought of it (like I do with Earlene Fowler’s, Fool’s Puzzle. That opening scene cracks me up. Warning: a couple of colorful words and mental images shown in the book.). Tell us if the character did something you did once and how you cracked up. Just a sentence. Just one or a part of one.
- What made you cry: Again, you can say you cried that it was over. You can say you cried when you realized you’d only read three pages and you had 683 to go. You can say you cried when you had to go to work, or you can say you cried when your favorite character died. Just no spoilers! Don’t tell us the heroine dies at the end. PLEASE Say you cried at the end because it was sad, but don’t say why! Don’t ruin it for the next reader.
That’s it. That’s all you need to do!
Of course, if you want a fifth thing you can add:
5. Warnings or caveats. If you WANT to (and it’s not necessary) then you can add a, “Just a note, in the one bookstore, the guy there has a foul mouth for about 2 pages. Might want to skip that part.” (Like I would say about Aunt Dimity’s Death).
How does that look when you’re done?
I’m going to write a quick and dirty review for Ready or Not and show you just how easy it is. Are ya ready?
In Ready or Not, I loved seeing the family dynamic of all those kids and a gal who had no real experience with children, but boy did I hate that grandmother! WHEW! The children’s antics made me laugh until my sides hurt, and the wisdom shared with her from people who came along to help, you know like the church really should, made me cry for people who don’t have a helpful body of Christians in their lives. Recommended.
See! That’s it! That’s all it needs. So please, bless your favorite author today. Write a quick review of the last book you read that you didn’t review. Or buy his latest book and go read it and then review it!