I don’t normally read reviews of my books, yet when I go to purchase a book, or any product for that matter, I read the Amazon reviews before committing to purchase. There are some things I hope to get out of a review, especially the consumer reviews:
1. a summary of the book besides the blurb;
2. the readers’ feelings about the writing, content and story-line;
3. whether it’s worth my hard earned dollars.
Consequently, I expect certain things from a book review, whether it is positive or negative.
Some time back a reader emailed me after purchasing one of my books and said she was about to leave a review but there were already so many reviews she didn’t think it was needed. So many? The last time I checked I could have counted them on my hands. So of course I looked and there were over a hundred reviews. I proceeded to read. Some were detailed while some were the bare minimum. When I was finished reading many of the reviews as well as for my other books, I came away wondering if there is a proper format for consumers reviewing a book.
Since there seems to be no established format for consumers reviewing and rating books, I would share with you some tips that may be helpful to potential readers considering purchasing the book.
1. Read the darned book
Reading the first three chapters or the blurb at the back of the book doesn’t qualify one to review a book. I saw one review of one of my books where the person claimed the hero and heroine didn’t get together in the end. That person clearly did not read the book in its entirety because as other reviewers pointed out they did get together in the end. Even professional reviewers when they are pressed for time do this. A review of one of my books on a professional reviewer’s blog site was so scant in the detail it was clear that the person only read the first few chapters before writing the review. It did not capture the essence of the book and it was not very helpful.
2. Give a summary of the book before reviewing it
Readers want to know what the book is about. Most blurbs on the back of the books don’t give as much details as readers would like. That’s where reviewers, even consumer reviewers come in. It helps orient the reader.
3. Be honest
Have you ever read a review that was so superfluous that it lacked credibility? If you are asked to review a book and you don’t feel you can give an honest review, simply bow out. To be honest, I don’t like to give negative reviews. I had one author acquaintance who asked me to write a review of her book on Amazon. I read it (and after 2 years I’m still reading it), and I did not find it interesting in the least. So I did not post a review since it would have been negative. Whether you like the book, or not just be honest in your review, because that’s what readers need.
4. Don’t post a rating without reviewing
If you give book a 5 star rating, we want to know why. What is so interesting about it? Is it the story-line? The characters? The writing style? In the same vein, readers want to know why a reviewer gave the book a 1 star. Most of those ratings without reviews are deemed not helpful.
5. Don’t be nasty
There are some reviews that are written just to be mean. One reviewer said their intention was to balance out the four and five stars so they gave it a 2 star. That’s not the purpose of reviewing. I’ve read a review that suggested the book be used as toilet paper to wipe ones @&*@#$. I purchased the book anyway and discovered it was a great read. The point of rating a book is not to vent frustration, but to give an honest review about the product. And even a negative review could be written without being nasty.
6. Review the product, not other things
This applies to more than just books. Some people give great books or great products a 1 star because the shipping was slow or they had issues with the supplier. I read a review where the person took issue with the author name because it sounded fake. There was nothing about the book in the review.
This list is by no means exhaustive. It merely contains my pet peeves because I absolutely hate to read a review that doesn’t at least offer me insights that would aid in my decision to purchase the book.
How do reviews influence your decision in purchasing books? What are some of your pet peeves about Amazon or other online book reviews?