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Review That Book! Part 1: For the Average Joe Reader

I’ve been a book blogger with Bethany House for about 3 years and I’ve learned a few things along the way. One of them is, goodness, why wasn’t I supporting my favorite authors with reviews on amazon, indigo (or for you Americans, Barns and Noble) and goodreads? It’s such a simple way to help the authors we love, and it doesn’t have to take long. A sentence, even. Personally, mine are longer, but that’s ’cause I often already have a longer version ready to go for my reviews here on my website.

This post is the first of two parts. I’ll start with the average-joe-reader and how to review on retail sites (amazon, for example) and goodreads. The second part will come in a week or so and will be for those who have a blog where they review and they want to tighten things up. Be sure to subscribe to my email list if you want to make sure you’re not missing out.

Reviewing on Goodreads and Retail Sites

Whether you love reading non-fiction or fiction, one of the big ways you can help your favorite author out is by leaving a review for them and a star rating.

I know what you’re thinking. What if you didn’t love a book? Reviews are also for readers too, right? Yes. But always be kind. Authors are people too and have worked super hard to get their words on the page and out to readers. So rule of thumb—be kind. Where you give criticism, give it constructively.

There are times when I read a book and I think to myself, “This book is detailed, well written, is within my moral compass, but I just don’t love it.” I’m gonna be honest with you. I have thought this about some books and given them a five star rating . . . not every time, mind you, but a book like that would get a 4 star from me, and like I said, an occasional 5. Why? Because I realize that its a good, solid book and I’m just not the audience for it. Why would I give a low star to a book that’s really really good just because I wasn’t gripped by a story line or topic that is not geared to me because I’m not the target audience?

Food for thought. Usually one of my necessities for a five star is that I couldn’t put it down. But that’s not always the case. And sometimes this is why:

Reader Experience

Have you ever read a book from an author you love but you couldn’t get into it? Maybe you kept getting interrupted or the house was chaotic or you started it and then didn’t have time to pick it up for a week or two and lost momentum?

I once read a book where the main character was named Gerd. Friends, Gerd is a Scandinavian name, and it means ‘garden’ according to babynames.com. I get it. But in English it’s also a digestive issue that I had been diagnosed with around the time that I was reading this novel. It’s basically in the family of reflux, where your food is being pushed back up your esophagus . . . web md can describe it better. I had a really hard time reading this very well written novel by an amazing author. I’m sure you can imagine why . . . I mean, being reminded over and over about your reflux problem kind of makes the issue worse, you know? My reader experience didn’t mean the novel wasn’t good. (By the way, limiting stress and cutting gluten help gerd, in case you were wondering . . . ha.)

For Every Put Down Give A Few Put UPS

Sure, you might not love everything about the novel. But surely you can find a few things you did like. Think of it like you were talking to the author in person. And find the nicest way to say the thing, then find a way to be encouraging as well. For every putdown, aim for 2-3 pros about the book too.

So Here’s the Breakdown:

  1. Review for the authors you love. It helps them continue to write for you!
  2. It down’t have to be long. A sentence or two is great, or a paragraph.
  3. If you couldn’t get into the book, ask yourself, was it the book or the reader experience to blame? Or were you just not the target audience? And if it really was the book . . .
  4. Always be kind, even if you didn’t love the book. Authors are people too.
  5. For every negative point, add 2-3 things you did like. It’s okay to say the things you’re not a fan of, of course. Like I said, reviews are for the readers and authors alike. But leave it on a positive note and write it in a positive tone.

Six Stars

Reviews are indeed for authors and readers alike. Just remember, we all have a virtual footprint—I don’t know about you, but I want mine to be one of kindness, even if it’s not a raving, glowing one every single time. But when I love a book you’ll know it. It will have 5 stars and I will probably say something like, “All the stars for this one! I couldn’t put it down! You have to add this one to your TBR pile!” So ya, passion in a review is basically the 6th star. I mean, sometimes 5 stars just isn’t enough.

One Comment

  • Lilly Hubert

    This is a really good guide to give book reviews … I’ve enjoyed so many great reads over the years. Thanks Amy.

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