Last week we talked about supporting your Indie Authors by reading more of their books. This week I want to talk about further supporting authors (Indie or otherwise) by writing a review for their book. Not sure what to write? Here are some suggestions!
Why should I write a review?
This may come as a surprise, but I believe there are people that think this way. They might say, “I bought their book, gave them my money, what more do they want?” The quick answer is your appreciation for all of the hard work that they put into the book that is now in your hands. Just like you would tip a waitress at a restaurant for good service, so should you show your gratitude towards and author and their work. It’s also a way for authors to gauge what their readers like or dislike about a story or characters.
Grant it not every author will change their style of writing to suit you or everyone for that matter, but feedback may help an author decide if another book with the same characters is worthwhile to write or not. If an author already has a series in mind, your review might help decide who comes back and who gets the boot. You won’t know of course unless you voice your opinion.
What should I write in a review?
The most important thing you shouldn’t do is to submit a review that simply says, “I liked this book.” This is a good thing, but it doesn’t tell the author WHY you like the book. All too often I have people “Like” my blog articles, but never say why. Feedback on any blog is just as important. It doesn’t have to be a review, but a few words of encouragement are always good.
When writing a review, make sure you talk about the characters and the scenes in the story. This will prove to the author that you actually sat down and read the book and didn’t just write a review because you were prompted to do so.
Definitely talk about the main character (MC) as this might the deciding factor as to whether a second book is written featuring this character. Perhaps you can do a comparison with the antagonist and share what you thought worked or didn’t work.
Also discuss secondary characters because they might return as well in another story. Or, perhaps, one of those characters might become the MC in a story of their own. In television, it not unusual for supporting characters to get a series of their own. For example, Dr. Fraiser Crane from Cheers got his own television series and it was very successful!
What shouldn’t I write in a review?
Please don’t be a praise junkie where every word is full of sugar that you inflate the author’s ego more than it already is. No book out there is so perfect that there isn’t room for improvement. Even if it’s only, “the story was great but too short for me.”
Do not promote your own work in a review. Remember, the review is about the book you read and the author who wrote it! The last thing an author wants to read: “This book on Jack the Ripper was really great but if you want the REAL truth, check out mine which can be found…” This also goes for non-writers. “This was a great story! In fact, my new album goes perfectly as background music. You can buy that here…”
I said it once and I’ll say it again…Remember, the review is about the book you read and the author who wrote it!
What if I didn’t like the book?
Yes, write a review! Remember the old adage: No news is good news. If there isn’t a negative review, the author may assume that everyone liked it. Just because you didn’t like the story doesn’t mean you should avoid writing a review. An author will accept criticism both good and bad. Besides, just because you didn’t like the story doesn’t mean everyone won’t like it. I don’t know how many movies I went to see even though the critics didn’t like it but I loved it.
A negative review is just as important to an author because it helps him understand what works and what doesn’t. Perhaps you would have liked the story more if the MC was a female instead. Not to be sexist, but maybe the situations would have been more real had the lead been a woman. Or, instead of the setting being downtown Los Angeles, the story would have been better in a small town or village in the middle of nowhere.
A Word of Warning
This warning is for both authors and readers alike. There are a lot of people out there who intentionally give out 1 star reviews and write scathing negative reviews. I’m guessing that they haven’t even bothered to write the book, but are going around with intention of bullying authors and their stories. If you give a 1 star rating to a book, you better have a really good reason to do and facts to back that up. The last thing we need on the Internet is more bullies than we already have. One is too many!
Writers, if you receive a 1 star review do not give up your desire to be an author. The review may sting, especially if it’s a genuine one, but it should help to know what direction you need to go in. If it’s one bad review out of hundreds of great review don’t simply dismiss it either. I know you can’t please everyone but at least take it to heart and read what he or she didn’t like…provided it’s an honest review.
Writing a review doesn’t take up a lot of time and should be written shortly after you read the book. Keep it handy as well, so you can reference the characters and the plot. Indie authors crave reviews because it’s what keeps us going and is an encouragement to write more stories.
Do you have any other suggestions about writing reviews? Share them in the comments. Also feel free to reference reviews that you may have received and if you made any changes in regards to the comments.
Next week, January 20, 2014, I will be doing an official cover reveal for book 1 of The Askinar Towers trilogy. The book itself will be released on January 31, 2014. Details will follow on where you can purchase the book.