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How to ROCK Reader (and Writer!) Reviews

When my kids were little (and not so little!) it was sometimes hard to find movies that were age appropriate. And, as high readers, “good fit” books were often a challenge, too. I wasn’t looking to censor darker themes but rather wanted to be prepared to address awkward or uncomfortable scenes, answer questions, and have those important conversations.

Common Sense Media was a staple in our lives–giving me the critical parts of the movies to pay attention to and, to be completely honest, often acting as a screen. Sometimes, I just wanted a family movie with a talking dog. Sometimes, I just wasn’t up to tackling those deeper conversations that I knew would (and should!) be coming.
But reviews aren’t just for kids. 
I’m a sensitive reader.
Often, before I start a new book, I want to know what to expect–am I in the mood to laugh, cry, sleep with the lights on?
My go-to?
Reader reviews!

So what makes a good review?
Who should write a review?
What should it say?
Are reviews really that important? (YES!) 

If writing (or receiving) reviews makes you break out in a cold sweat, I’ve got you! Here’s a list for readers (and writers!) to painlessly create reviews that will help elevate the books you love and the authors who wrote them. Note: You’ll see some overlap between the lists and that’s ok. Believe it or not, writers share some of the same concerns when writing reviews for fellow authors!

A game plan to ROCK reviews:

READERS: Why reviews are important, and how to write them
1. Writing a review is the single most important thing you can do to help an author’s book move up the Amazon ranks and be SEEN! As a book gets more positive reviews, the book moves higher in the list of search results, helping it be more visible to potential readers. For example: books listed on page one of the search results have a much better chance of selling than a book buried on page 18. 

2. You don’t need to write a long review. Just a line or two telling what you enjoyed about the book is perfect!

3. Don’t stress that your review isn’t “good enough.” It is. Be honest and tell the truth about what drew you to the book, what kept you reading, and what made you hope the author will write a sequel. 🙂

4. You don’t know what to say and are afraid it will sound stupid, or you will look silly. Please don’t worry. There are so many truly terrible reviews out there, ones that just don’t make sense, that honest reviews are easy to spot–they ring true and sincere. 

5. You don’t know where to post your review. Good news! You can literally post anywhere you talk about books or buy books. And you can use the SAME review across multiple places. For example, you can cut and paste the same review to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, Goodreads, your favorite independent bookstore, your own website…you get the idea. No need to reinvent the wheel here. 🙂 

6. You aren’t quite sure how to post. No worries! It really is pretty simple. You just go to the site and search for the book. (Any of the sites listed in the above bullet would be great!) You’ll likely see some stars with the number of current reviews. Click on the number of reviews (it should be a live link), and you’ll not only see those reviews but also there will be a place that says something like “leave a customer review.” You click that, fill out the very short form, and submit! That’s it! Often you’ll get an email asking you to verify your review–once you do, your review will be live, helping other readers and the author. 

WRITERS: Where and how to get reviews
1. Ask. It’s painful. It’s scary. Do it anyway–ask your fellow authors to write reviews for you. And know that as uncomfortable and humbling as that may be, every author has been in your place at some point.

 2. Swap books and write reviews for each other. Time, and especially writing time, is a hot commodity these days, but make reading your fellow authors’ books a priority–and make sure to write and post your reviews. It matters. A lot.

3. Seek out book clubs. Doing an in-person or virtual book club talk is a great way to solicit a large number of reviews in one place. And make sure to sweeten the deal–offer some swag for any posted reviews. Everyone loves author swag!

4. Don’t stress that your review isn’t “good enough.” It is. And, as you write more and read more, you will get better (and faster!) at writing reviews. Trust me. 

5. Try not to be intimidated by writing a review for a favorite or admired author. They have all been in your shoes at one point. They understand. Put yourself out there and be authentic & honest about their book. And then ask them to review your book as well. 

6. Make it super easy for people to review your book. Oftentimes, readers might be a bit hesitant because they haven’t posted reviews before, don’t want to do it “wrong,” or aren’t sure what to say. Try this: share the actual links to post reviews, thank people for posting, and encourage honest reviews. (Yes, your reviews may be a mixed bag of 1-5 stars, but they will be authentic and, ultimately, more believable than 100% 5-star ratings.)

7. Create a small insert to tuck in your book that asks readers to post a review and provides links to do so. Add these at book fairs, drop some at your favorite Independent bookstores, and ask your local library to include them. Make this a staple everywhere you sell books, and include this with the bookmarks, author cards, or other swag you give away.

8. Jump on social media and ask people to post a review and include some type of incentive. For example, maybe have a drawing for a signed copy of your book, and anyone who posts a review within a 2-week period is automatically entered in the drawing. Anything that feels manageable (and fun!) for you is fair game. Be creative. Readers love to connect with authors!  🙂

Book rankings and visibility are all about the numbers. As the number of reviews increases, an author’s book will move up in the search results and be “seen” more easily. Posting reviews is the single easiest way to support writers and to help readers discover great books. 

So what do you think? Were any of these ideas new to you? Did I miss a great way you have found to increase reader reviews or to ease the anxiety of writing reviews? Let me know at 

Now, go rock some reviews, and I’ll see you next month! 🙂  

EC Quinn
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