Oh, wait—that’s authors. Sorry. We’re talking to readers here.
Yanno, authors are pretty sure most of you like the books we publish because you tell us when we see you at events, or run into you in the checkout line at Walmart, or meet you on social media.
And make no mistake: we love that. Very little fills up an author’s heart like praise from an appreciative reader. (Or a gift of wine and/or chocolate from, well, anyone.)
We get you. You read a book that you truly love, a book that is so good you wish you could suffer a very mild short-term memory loss just so you could read it again for the first time. A book that had such an effect on you that when you meet the author you can’t string words into coherent sentences. You just stand there and scramble desperately for the right words to convince this person standing in front of you that their book Changed Your Life.
Then later, while you are folding laundry and watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory, you think of all the intelligent, thoughtful things you could’ve said, wish you’d said, but didn’t, because your brain went into fangirl mode and refused to operate on all thrusters.
Or maybe you are folding laundry and watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory, and thinking of all the carefully planned and intelligent things you would say to Your Favorite Author if you could meet him or her.
See, we get you because we are you. We’re writers, but we are also readers, and we suffer the same addictions as you do to great books, authors that make us one-click, and the sudden inability to form coherent sentences when in the presence of our favorite author.
So here’s what we, as authors, know that we want to pass on to you: You can indeed let an author know, anytime and from wherever you are, what their books have meant to you.
How they impact you every time you read the first line on page 1.
How you love and hate their books at the same time—love the story, hate that it has to end.
And you can sound cool, confident, and professional when you do it. Or you can go all fangirl if you want to—we don’t mind. We just like feedback, whether it’s perched coolly at the edge of a chair, with properly-crossed ankles and hands in lap, or bouncing all over the place and squee-ing. Bring it.
And what is this remarkable, life-altering, basically free thing you can do for us?
It’s the one thing that can make or break us. It’s what keeps our butts in the chair, and fingers on our keyboards. It’s sometimes the only compensation we get for a book.
And it’s the one thing we hate, more than anything, to ask for. We do it, because we sometimes feel like maybe a gentle nudge will get some action, but we hate nudging.
We hate asking for reviews.
Seriously, we hate asking. But reviews matter. They matter a lot. And most authors will tell you they’d appreciate that review any way they can get it, because every review helps another reader make a buying decision.
Leaving a review is easy to do! In fact, reviewing is almost as simple as purchasing the book in the first place. All it takes is logging into your Amazon account (or wherever you purchased the book), clicking “Leave a Review,” and following the instructions.
“But I never know what to say!”
Don’t feel bad. Unless you are an experienced reviewer, it is not a task that comes easily to you. So let us make it easy for you:
A review is nothing more than a statement telling the world if you liked a book / movie / album / product. That’s all. It can be three words: “I liked it” or “It was okay.” It can be two sentences. It can be a paragraph. It can be ten pages of in-depth analysis. It’s whatever you want to say.
Most review sites allow a “star” rating, and some allow only clicking on a star rating as a “review.” If that’s allowed where you wish to submit your review and you can’t think of anything else to say, then go for it.
Feedback is feedback. Authors and artists will take whatever you are comfortable providing in the way of feedback, and be grateful for it.
However, if you are required to leave a text review and you have no idea what to say, pick one thing you liked about the book, and say something short and sweet about it.
Did you like the main character?
I really loved Main Character. Her confidence and wit really brought the book to life for me, and it was fun watching how she interacted with everyone else in the book.
Did you enjoy the story overall?
What a great story! I was hooked from the first page, and I couldn’t put it down until I found out if Hero and Heroine ever found the treasure and lived happily ever after.
Did you like the setting? Better yet, have you been there? Do you know the setting well? Say so.
Author did a great job with the setting! I grew up less than 20 miles from Setting, and she made me feel like I was home.
Did the book have a surprise ending? Did you like it? Tell us. (But no spoilers, please!)
I’m still reeling. It’s not often a book knocks the breath right out of me, but Author did it this time when Heroine did *thing she did*. I did not see that coming. I want more from this author!
Did the book not work for you? That’s okay, it happens, and a professional author will not hold it against you if you say so. (Please be equally professional and be nice about it, ‘kay?)
This book did not work for me. Other fans of Author’s work may enjoy it, but I -insert what did not work for you here-.
Did the book have editing or formatting issues? The author needs to know this. If the story is a good one and would benefit from a little technical help, you can point this out in a helpful way.
This was a good story, but a little editing/formatting would turn this good story into a great one.
In your review, be sure and use names of characters, places, and events from the book. This shows other readers (and Amazon) that you are indeed a real person and you actually read the book.
You might find, as you’re writing your review, that you become enthusiastic and want to add more. Please do! Short to medium length, exciting reviews are often more fun to read than long, involved ones, and they take less time.
And there you have it. Painless reviewing:
- Takes very little time.
- Shows the author you appreciate his or her work.
- Directs other readers to new-to-them authors to enjoy.
One last thought: when you write a review, you can give the author a little extra love if you hit your “Share” buttons and share your review with your Facebook, Google+, and Twitter friends, and everyone else in your social networks.