By Nora Phoenix
One reason why readers may not leave a review is because they don’t know how to write one. As much as we writers like to talk about reviews, we rarely talk about what a perfect review looks like. We are so focused on getting reviews, preferably good ones, and how to get more reviews, or how to make sure Amazon doesn’t delete our reviews, that we forget to coach readers just a little in how to quickly craft the perfect review.
Hint: it’s not necessarily a five-star review.
Another hint: it doesn’t have to be a long review, either.
I’ve had multiple readers express concern to me that they wouldn’t do the book justice, or that they’d make grammar mistakes. Others said they didn’t know what to write other than that they really liked the book. So how can we help readers in knowing what to write?
It may help if we show readers the anatomy of a perfect review: what you liked in the book + what you didn’t like + whether you recommend it. That’s it.
First, manage expectations. Tell your readers a short review is just as good as a long one, because it is. Secondly, make sure they know that they should feel free to note anything they didn’t like. Stress repeatedly that tastes differ and that they’ll do other readers a service in informing them of aspects they themselves didn’t like.
What can also help, is a little guidance on what they could include, in case they struggle with knowing what to write. Here are some suggestions for questions that could help readers write a few sentences:
- Name two things you really liked about this book
- What was one thing you felt could have been handled better?
- What’s the main trope in the book? (you may have to explain this term)
- What other books do you feel this book is comparable to?
- How did the book make you feel?
- How would you describe the writing style?
- What did you like about the main character(s)? Was there something you didn’t like about him/her/them?
- Would you recommend this book to other readers? Why or why not?
Of course, there are dozens of other questions readers could answer, but the goal is not to give them thirty options. The idea is to encourage them and help them in writing down a few sentences for a review.
By the way, it also helps to explain how to actually leave a review. You may have done it a million times (because hopefully, you are as diligent about leaving reviews for books you read as you expect others to be for your books), but for less tech-savvy readers leaving a review may be a challenge. A simple step-by-step tutorial could be the nudge they need to leave a review for you.
Nora Phoenix wears many different hats, and even a couple of different (pen) names. She’s a fiction and non-fiction author, a blogger, and a book reviewer. She will be speaking on “Making Book Reviews a Win-Win at the 2018 Winter Writers’ Weekend.