You have just finished the last page of a great book and that familiar feeling of emptiness runs over you.
You stop for a moment and think to yourself, “What now?” because the book that has really hit home with you is now over.
How can you reflect on your experience and share it with others?
Go to Amazon (or your favorite bookseller) and write a fair and honest book review!
If you are wondering how to write a book review, you have come to the right place.
As a self-published author, you know how valuable book reviews are.
They can validate your hard work and ensure you that people are benefiting from your dedication to the book.
It is also a chance for you to read some constructive feedback to keep in mind for your future books.
It is important for you to spread the love to other authors by writing helpful book reviews so their books can move up the ranks in Amazon’s algorithm.
While you are probably thrilled to get some feedback and positive comments on your work, other self-published authors also appreciate the opinions of other readers.
Writing reviews will also make you more credible as an author because it will show that you are able to look at a book objectively to see if it portrayed its intended message and then give your subjective opinions on the content.
While it is great to give other authors reviews, you are writing the review for potential future readers, not for the author.
You give a review of a book so other readers can decide if it is worth their time and money to read.
One thing to keep in mind is that it is important to avoid writing reviews for authors that you have a personal relationship with, not only because it’s against Amazon’s rules, but also because you are likely to bring in your own bias.
Further, it is not acceptable to write or receive a review for any kind of compensation.
This also introduces a sense of bias to the book review that will not help other readers get an honest feeling as to whether this book is right for them or not.
Amazon has Customer Review Guidelines that set specific rules for giving and receiving book reviews on their website.
These guidelines are set forth to ensure that their customers are able to get truthful information about books when reading the reviews posted on their site.
There are some things you will want to keep in mind when writing any book review.
First, you want to be honest and allow readers to find you to be a trustworthy source of information. Doing so may even encourage them to look into books that you have authored.
If your opinions about the subject of the book are strong, be sure to still write an objective review of the book itself.
Don’t make the claim that a book is either extremely well-written or extremely poorly-written based on your opinion of the subject.
If the book is written by a fellow self-published writer, remember that you are working in a small community. You don’t want to write something that will come back and haunt you later.
Be respectful of your fellow authors.
Here are some more specific tips on how to write a book review for fiction and non-fiction books.
Writing a Review for Fiction Books
There are several things you will want to include in your book review format for a fiction book to help potential future readers get information that is valuable to them.
First, you want to mention the title, author, and genre of the book. This will immediately narrow down the readership to only those who are interested in the idea of the book.
Then you will want to provide a brief synopsis including the main characters and a brief look into the plot.
In this section, you will want to be cautious to not give away anything that might ruin the book for the potential reader.
You can then move on to explain your personal impression of the book.
Some things you may address would be the credibility (or lack thereof) of the characters, the issues that the main characters have to face, the names of the characters you connected to (and why), your favorite (and least favorite) parts of the book, and if you would recommend it to other people.
When you are giving your personal impression, make sure you are writing about the story, not about yourself.
For example, you can mention how the ending was predictable, but don’t say something like, “I hate love stories.”
Doing this will have people wondering why you read the book in the first place.
Finally, mention what type of reader may especially enjoy the book.
You want to be able to gain the trust of other readers, so being honest about who may particularly like this book and who may find it to be a bit lacking is important.
There are a few things to keep in mind when you are doing this. You want to write a review on how the book was written, not how you think it should have been written.
Your opinion in this matter is not going to help other readers decide if they want to read this book.
However, it is important to add some of your personal thoughts into the review instead of providing people with a summary similar to a book report.
It is good to give your opinion about the book’s quality beyond its content, just don’t go off on a tangent suggesting various endings or other directions in which the book could have gone.
Writing a Review for Non-Fiction Books
Writing a review for non-fiction books looks a bit different than reviews for fiction books.
You will want to start your review with background information about the author and the information in the book. State why the author is (or is not) a trusted source of information on the subject at hand.
You then want to let the reader know what the author’s goal was when writing the book. Is the goal to inform readers?
To persuade them to do something? To teach them?
The important second step of this is to let the reader know if the author succeeded in meeting their goal.
Provide a summary of the book and an evaluation of its contents.
What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Describe the tone and writing style of the book and its potential value for its intended audience. Did the author present an effective argument?
Were the conclusions that were made by the author reasonable?
Did the author give any recommendations and were they practical?
Be objective in answering this question and provide book readers with the facts.
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Amazon’s Bestseller Ranking
You are able to give between one and five stars to a book, depending on how much you enjoyed it.
It is important, however, to think very carefully before giving either a one or a five.
Your five-star reviews should be left for books that have great writing, great editing, and an impactful storyline that makes you want to read it multiple times.
While it may seem like the nice thing to do is to give five stars to every book that you think is pretty good, it does not help potential readers really know if this book is worth their time.
If a book is written and edited well, you should not give it fewer than three stars.
You can give an explanation in your review telling readers why you did not like a book, but if it is well-written and you give it one or two stars, you are making your review too subjective.
You must allow other readers the chance to make their own decision on the content of the book because others may find the content to be great.
Unless a book has absolutely no redeeming qualities at all and the writing has errors and typos, do not give a one-star review.
As a self-published author, you likely know that poor reviews are very distressing to authors, especially if they stand no ground.
Also, getting a negative review from a fellow author can be even more painful than if it is from just a reader in passing.
Authors often focus on the negative points in reviews, even if they are mainly positive, so be careful to tread lightly.
Knowing the potential lasting effect that a negative review can have on an author’s reputation and personal feelings should show you the importance of leaving thoughtful reviews.
While this does not mean you have to be gentle in your criticism, it is important to be careful in the delivery of your opinions.
It is important to note that every book may have something about it that you don’t like.
In this case, it is best to lighten up your book critique and find some ways to put a positive spin on your comments.
For example, if you read a book on a subject and it is geared more towards beginners but doesn’t suggest that in the book’s title, say something like, “This book is a great tool for people who want to brush up on the basics” or something to that effect.
You can be critical without being harsh.
In conclusion, the trick to writing an effective book review is to approach the task in a systematic way.
Keep your focus on the main points you want to communicate to future readers and think about what readers want to get out of your review.
Book reviews should communicate the quality and style of the book without giving away so much detail that readers no longer feel the need to read the book to get more information.