A few months ago, I was featured on E.A. West’s blog. I’m repeating the blog message here because it’s so important for writers.

There are two things I do when choosing a book to read—I read the book blurb and check the reviews. My preferred venues for reviews are (in this order) Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble. If a book has fewer than ten, the sampling is too small to be significant. Statisticians would consider that to be an inadequate sample size resulting in unreliable feedback.

One of the most powerful tools a writer can gather is positive reviews. Those are like nuggets of gold. 

Consider this data.  Note—this is not hard research, just my ambling through the internet to obtain information.

  • Length of time an author spends writing a novel – approximately one year.
  • Length of time a reader takes to complete a novel – approximately 14 hours.
  • Length of time it takes to write and post a review – approximately 5 minutes.

When I was an elementary teacher, I received many gifts from students and parents. While this was fun and appreciated, the absolute best thing a parent could send was a note of appreciation. That always left me with a smile.

Your positive review is a note of appreciation. I urge you to say thank you to your favored authors by posting one.

Here are a few tips about writing reviews.

  • Select your stars. Five stars means you highly recommend this book. Four stars says it’s a good book. Three stars tells me it’s just OK. If we are going to rely on reviews, they need to be accurate. I personally choose to never leave a negative review. If I can’t give a book at least three stars, I won’t review it. That’s my preference, but you may choose differently. Even a negative review can be written with kindness.
  • Amazon will denote a review as a ‘verified purchase’ if you’ve obtained a copy from them. That’s always a good thing to see. Regardless of where you obtain your copy, speak in a professional tone. Avoid use of the author’s first name only. That sounds like a friend or relative reviewed it. Use the full name or the last name only.
  • Provide a sentence or two about the plot or theme, but don’t disclose the ending or any surprise elements.
  • Mention the main character by name. Discuss the author’s use of character development. 
  • Include anything notable—humor, suspense, inspiration.
  • End with  your reaction to the novel.
  • Double check your grammar and spelling. If it’s poorly written, readers may disregard it.

Once again, let me remind you of the time frames noted above. An author will work for approximately one year to provide you with about 14 hours of reading pleasure. Don’t allow a wonderful book to go unread when five minutes of your time could make a difference.  Your review is like that note of appreciation. It will leave them with a smile.  

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