It’s no secret that authors use reviews to help draw attention to their books. And while many readers have good intentions when they write a review, there are times when the review, well . . . just falls flat. Don’t let that happen when you write a review.

Here’s one example. “I liked this book. It was very good.” Here are three flaws in this review:

  1. While the reader says it “was very good,” that is really subjective. What constitutes a “good book” to one person might not be the same for others
  2. It’s short. Many review sites have minimum word or character requirements, and a short review such as this one might get rejected or deleted by admins after being noticed
  3. The reviewer doesn’t say WHAT was liked about the book

The reader/reviewer might have given the book a top rating (say 5 stars out of a possible 5), which helps the book’s rating. But the lack of substance doesn’t help other potential readers. Compare that first review with this one, still short and simple, but much better. “I liked this book because the main character was developed well, making it a most enjoyable read. I think you’ll like it, too.”

  • Still short, but a review over 100 characters makes it a suitable length for most sites
  • Look how it’s different from the first review. In this case, the reader says WHY he or she liked the book. So, if you think character development is an important ingredient to a good book, then this book already has some appeal for you
  • Then the reviewer says that the good character development was instrumental in making the book “an enjoyable read.” That’s good!
  • And, finally, the reviewer gives an opinion saying that you’d probably also like it. In other words, a soft recommendation or suggestion was offered

What are some other tips for writing a good book review?

WHY You Like the Book
The example above is just one way you can tell other readers why you liked the book. Maybe it was the way that the characters were developed. They were described so well, not just by words, but also by their actions. You can see the characters as you read what they were doing and how they were interacting with others. Maybe it was the location, a place you know well or have always dreamed about visiting. Perhaps it was how the feel of the local area and people was incorporated into the story. When you say WHY you liked the book, the review now stands out as a really good review.

HOW the Story Progresses
Some stories move faster than others. If you like a slowly developing story, write about how the soft and casual pace gently pulled you along and kept you involved in the story. If you want a book that jumps right into the action, describe that first moment where you were grabbed and knew you had to keep reading to keep up with the action of the story.

DESCRIBE a Certain Scene
When you describe a particular scene from the story, you are giving others a small sense of the overall book. You don’t want to quote paragraph after paragraph as if you’ve just done a copy and paste from the text. It’s best if you can take that scene and describe it in your own words. What was it about that scene that made it so memorable? Was it a pivotal point in the story? [Note: “Spoiler Alerts” are discussed below.]

CHECK Your Spelling and Grammar
Writing an online review is not the same as writing a formal essay for school or a business proposal to the bank. However, proper spelling and good grammar do matter. Lots of spelling errors and poor grammar tell most readers of your review that you wrote the review in such a hurry, and that you weren’t that interested in how it looked. That in turn lessens the value of that review to others who might be considering the book. Since you’re already taking some time to pen the review, why not take just a couple extra minutes and go back through it to check for any errors, and then fix them? The authors will appreciate that extra effort, and so will the readers of your review.

It might be tempting to include even just a little bit of information on how the story ends, or a “Who did it” line or two. But don’t do that. Readers of books, especially mysteries, like the challenge of trying to figure some of that out on their own. When you say that the butler did it in the kitchen with the rope, you are spoiling the fun of many potential readers, and you are costing the authors revenue from readers who might have otherwise bought the book.

Above all else, be honest in your review. If you feel compelled to write a review on why you didn’t like the book, be clear about what you idn’t like. Don’t just say, “This is a bad book. I didn’t like it.” If you’re going to take the time to write that, at least explain WHY you didn’t like it, or WHY you think it’s a bad book. Authors naturally prefer good reviews (5 stars out of 5, for example), but they really appreciate good, honest reviews.

Please take these items into account the next time you are reviewing one of our books, or books by any of your other favorite authors!

p.s. If you’ve already read any of our books (such as Overdoses in Olympia), please consider going to Amazon and writing a review (You don’t actually have to purchase the book, or buy it on Amazon, to leave a review there. So long as you’ve read the book, you can leave a review. Thanks in advance!!