By Sherry Howard
Before my first book was published, I never really understood how it felt to get your book reviewed.
Luckily for me, a few writer friends, who understood how important reviews are, jumped in to review my newly-published book without being asked.
Seeing those reviews was great, even the four-starred ones, but it made me realize that I hadn’t been great about giving reviews. And, it made me think about why people some people refuse to write reviews. In fact, a friend told me she didn’t have enough confidence to post her writing publicly, even to support me.
I realized that people have the wrong idea about what the author needs from a reviewer.
Readers want to hear from other readers when they’re considering a purchase.
People who buy my picture book shell out a lot of money. I want them to love the book, and not be disappointed. Reviews help them know if it’s a good purchase for them.
So, if you’d like to help your favourite author, and help other readers, I’d like to share some tips that might ease the pain of writing reviews.
10 Tips for Quick Review Writing:
- You don’t have to be a great writer to write a great review. If you’re not confident in your writing, look over the reviews already posted for the book, and you’ll get ideas.
- A review doesn’t have to be long. A few well-chosen sentences can do the trick. Honestly, even one enthusiastic sentence is nice to get.
- Don’t let the request for a review headline scare you off. A lot of people cringe at the requirement for a review headline. It doesn’t matter enough to sweat it. It can be a short line or phrase from the review itself. It can be as simple as: ‘I loved this book’, or, ‘Add this book to your library.’
- You don’t have to purchase the book to review it. You can read a book from the library, or wherever it can be found, and review it. On Amazon, people who purchased the book through Amazon will be listed as verified reviews. People purchase books in lots of places, or borrow them. They can still leave reviews, and those reviews help authors get the word out about their books.
- Don’t worry about being judged for a review. All reviews reflect how someone felt about a reading experience. That’s all!
- Do be careful about committing in advance to reviews. Say you’ve committed to review a book, and it’s poorly done or not your cup of tea. It’s awkward if you committed in advance. Lots of authors offer free copies for a review, with the unspoken expectation that it will be a good review. I’ve learned to avoid those situations when possible. As I said, it can get awkward.
- If you enjoyed a book, think about why. The reason you enjoyed is what you want to convey in your review.
- Think about where a book might belong, and mention that in your review. This relates to children’s books especially. For instance, this book would help students learn compassion in a totally fun way.
- Set aside a few minutes for a review. A review can be done in less than ten minutes.
- Use a formula. I’m including a few options below to help you get started.
Sample Book Review Formulas
- Write a brief description of the book, one or two sentences. Add one sentence about why you liked it. My favorite thing about this was the . . . (mystery, illustrations, author’s note, back matter, character, setting), or that same or a different element added so much to this book.
- Skip the description and tell why you liked a book, and who else might like to read it. You’d enjoy this book if you like . . .
Talk about where it belongs. This is a great addition for your (home, library, school) collection
- Speak from your heart. I’m glad I read this book. It was (fun, fast-paced, exciting, compelling, meaningful, beautifully written/illustrated. (My personal favorite to read!)
Now, I’m going to go do a few book reviews! I hope you’ll do the same.
Sherry Howard lives with her children and silly dogs in Middletown, Kentucky, a stone’s throw from the beautiful horse farms Kentucky is always bragging about. During her career in education, she served as a middle school principal in one of the largest metro school districts in the US; she and cat-herders share many common skills. Sherry loves to read, write, cook, and sit in the sand watching the waves when she can. She credits her ability to write a complete sentence in English to her training in classical Latin. Now her picture books and chapter books are arriving through Clear Fork Publishing. She also writes for the educational market. If you read her book, she’d love a review!