by Molly Jo Realy (@MollyJoRealy)
How to Write a Book Review
(Or, A Non-Monetary Way to Really Support Your Favorite Authors, Even if They’re Dead)
Not sure if you heard, but NOLA is launching next week. Pretty cool, right? I also have a few friends in the game who have recently launched as well. Tina Yeager is about to launch Beautiful Warrior, Beckie Lindsey’s Daybreak comes out in July, and Aaron Gansky’s The Seven Seals (a Hand of Adonai Novel, Book 3) came out just a few months ago.
I’ve had several Swarm members buzz around and ask how they can help beyond buying the book.
Lemme tell ya: There are two things an author covets more than anything once the book is published. (Well, three if you count coffee.) The first is sales. Buy the book. Buy it for yourself. Your friend. Your significant other. Your neighbor, mailman, kid’s cousin’s dog walker’s parents. Buy. The. Book. And buy it in all forms. Print. Digital. Audio. However it’s available, however you’ll read it.
I mean, yah, we totally write because we don’t know how to not write, and you hear us say, “Oh, even if no one bought my books ever I’d still be a writer.” What a load of youknowwhat. I mean, it’s true. But in a demented, look at my sadlittlelife kind of way. So, really. We like the book sales. I ain’t gonna lie.
The best nonmonetary way you can support your favorite authors is to write a review and share it. But readers. Well, y’all are readers, yah? Not writers. You want to get into the characters, the setting, the whole joie de vivre of it. “Oh, great,” you say. “Now she’s speaking French. I’m never gonna understand!”
Calm you’re kettles. It’s gonna be okay.
Reviews show popularity. And you know who gets noticed in the industry? The ones who are getting noticed. Think on that for a minute.
Amazon and Goodreads drive book popularity based partly on sales and reviews. That’s why both are important.
The most important thing to realize is a book review is not a book report.
There are three things imperative to a good book review:
- You have a social media site to share the review on (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
- You have an account at Amazon and/or Goodreads
- You’ve read the book.
Seriously. That’s it. Once that’s all been established, you click on the book link, then click on “Reviews,” then click where it says, “Leave Your Own Review.” Type away, and share.
The second most important thing to realize is this is your review.
You’re not graded on sentence structure, grammar, or word count. You won’t be put in reviewer jail if you misquote something. Just tell the author and their audience if you enjoyed the book, and why/why not. Use your own words and speaking style. Don’t fancy it up or dumb it down. Most review site require a minimum of 250 characters. Easy peasy.
PERSONAL PREFERENCE: There is no wrong way to leave a review, but don’t give away spoilers like, “It was really crazy how that spaceship zapped up Rain and Josie at the very end. I mean, I thought it wasn’t a sci-fi.” [Real spoiler alert: that is not how NOLA actually ends.]
Now, I’m not all in for author-bashing or trolling (those little internet mongrels that like to badmouth strangers just because they can!), but I am a fan of authenticity. So be honest, but be nice. Remember, you’re reviewing the book, not the author, not their lifestyle. If you want to review that, go to other websites. Get me?
A detailed review can be as short as three or four sentences. Did you find it compelling? A page turner or a nodder (one that put you to sleep)? Do you want more from this author, these characters? If the story is set in a real place, did the reading feel accurate? Did you emote through the story?
Based on the above, a positive review of the Wizard of Oz might read:
(Five Stars) “I was enthralled with the duality of worlds and Dorothy’s struggle to realize everything she needed she already had. The Flying Monkeys were very scary, but the Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man were wonderful companions and showed a true depth of character as they grew along their journey. I highly recommend this book, and can’t wait for the sequel. “
A negative review might read:
(Two Stars) “The fantasy worlds were too much for me to grasp. Frank L. Baum’s writing style is definitely for children. Although the writing is clean and the plot flows as it should, this book isn’t for me.”
You may be asked to title your review. This isn’t mandatory, so you can start with the first line of your review.
But the stars. If you feel the book is really good, but not as great as others you’ve read, it’s okay to leave four stars instead of five. Note that a Five Star Review means you really loved the book and want more. One Star means you’ll never read that book again. Three Stars mean you’re either apathetic, or the book didn’t reach it’s full potential.
PERSONAL PREFERENCE: Review the book and the author, but leave out any personal details. “I really loved helping Amy Pen brainstorm as she outlined this story,” or “I’ve known John Writer since we were kids and I’m so proud of him.” Those personal kudos can go on your social media sites, but don’t belong in a review.
Reviews are an author’s equivalent to crypto-coin. Well, maybe not. But sort of. And you have the power to make them rich.
Here are a few other ways you can support your favorite authors:
Leave a comment: Do you leave reviews for books you’ve read? What are some of your favorite summer reads?
With a cup full of sweet tea and a house that needs cleaning,
Frankly, My Dear . . . Savor the Journey!
Molly Jo is better known as the Bohemian Hurricane. She is the author/curator of The Unemployment Cookbook and several eBooks available on Amazon. Her work-in-progress, NOLA, is a romantic mystery novel set in New Orleans, and the first in her City Series. [Note to Self: Seriously. Change this.]