Customer reviews are extremely important for authors and even sellers of other products on Amazon. The number of reviews makes a big difference in how products appear in search results; the number of reviews seems to be more important than the ratings of those reviews. I have written reviews for many years and have posted more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon. I am behind posting reviews of books I’ve read during the past crazy months of COVID isolation, but I intend to catch up.
Why should you write a review of a book you read?
Your review can help other readers decide whether to purchase the book. Readers sometimes hesitate to write reviews because they don’t consider themselves good writers, and they are concerned that other readers will be critical of what they write. That is not likely to happen. Potential buyers read reviews to find out enough about the book to determine whether they would enjoy it, not to judge the reviewer.
How should you rate a book?
Rate the book you’re reviewing based on your own personal reaction; don’t even consider what other readers think. Personally, I do not like to give ratings of 1 or 2. If I start a book and find I’m not enjoying it, I abandon it and don’t review it. I don’t think it’s fair for me to make a judgment after reading only a few pages or chapters. So the only time I rate a book 1 or 2 is if I’ve been enjoying the book and something changes dramatically when I reach the end.
A book with a cliffhanger ending will probably get two stars from me if I’ve liked it to the end. I seldom rate a book 1, but I did so recently on an audiobook that has a twist at the end that I absolutely hated—the bad guys won when I was rooting for the good guys.
Three stars for me means the book was okay, pleasant enough but not something I couldn’t put down. A book that is excellent but has a few flaws, whether it be grammatical errors or minor areas of confusion, earns four stars. Five stars means I couldn’t put the book down, and I was completely satisfied with the resolution.
Obviously, these ratings are subjective. Sometimes a low rating from a reviewer will make me more inclined to read a book. For example, if the reviewer doesn’t like the book because of Christian content or because of the lack of explicit sex, I know that Christian content and wholesome stories appeal to me, so what that reviewer hated, I will probably enjoy.
What should you say in a review?
Just express what you liked and/or didn’t like about the book. What might be important for other readers to know? Writing what you didn’t like will help both readers who like what you do and readers with opposite opinions. If you didn’t like the cliffhanger ending, other readers who don’t like cliffhangers will avoid the book while readers who enjoy cliffhangers will be likely to choose it. Mention whatever is important to you, anything from the writing style/author voice to the subject matter to the characters and the plot.
Say as little or as much as needed to give your honest opinion of the book and the reasons for how you felt. I have occasionally written very long reviews if I had a lot to share about the book, but most of my reviews on Amazon or Goodreads are a few sentences.
Authors will be very grateful for your reviews as they help other readers discover their books. Other readers will also appreciate your comments as your reviews will help the readers choose books they like to read and avoid the ones that don’t interest them.