Encourage an Author - A Practical Guide for Newbie Reader Reviewers
Whether you bought, borrowed or downloaded your latest literary treat, the best way to say thank you is to leave a reader review online. It’s more vital now than ever before, because it’s so much faster to do and it's even more important if you borrowed the book! Here's a 'how to' guide to make it easy.
Image: Guess where in the world is my favourite vintage bookshop? – Nadja Leffler
My first instinct when I finish a great book is to lend it to someone who will love it too so we can discuss it together and enjoy it all over again. I thought this was great recycling until I spoke with debut author Oliver Greeves about the challenges of promoting a new book. Basically, authors and definitely publishers tend to measure the love by the number of sales. Reflecting on my new found ‘lender guilt’, we thought of a simple solution – encourage people to say thank you with an honest, yet kind review.
Maximise Your Reader's Review
To get the maximum impact from your reading and reviewing efforts, you can leave your review in more than one place. Start with the biggest social site, GoodReads, and then rework it to suit other sites such as the online retailers. You don’t need to be a clever wordsmith, just share what impressed you about the book and who else is likely to enjoy it.
If it reminded you of another book or TV series, name them. For example: 'I had always been a fan of the Horatio Hornblower TV series and Napoleonic era fiction, so I particularly enjoyed reading about the good and the bad of the real Horatio in Nelson's Folly"... etc.You can make it more thorough by adding how it made you feel or commenting on its mood, pace or theme. Form your thoughts into a few catchy sentences.
Your opinion matters. Be honest, but in a constructive and kind way and please avoid spoilers. Now it's time to post your review.
You can’t buy books here, it’s a community, and with over 90 million members globally, Goodreads is the best place to leave a review. You do need to be a member, but it’s free and although famous for being a bit clunky and owned by Amazon, it is still the main place book lovers leave recommendations, comment on each other’s reviews and create lists of what they’ve read and want to read next. You can sign up here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/sign_up
Length: maximum 15,000 characters which is between 2500 to 5000 words.
Use the search to find the book you wish to review – half way down home page on left. Eg Nelson’s Folly is at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56377296-nelson-s-folly
Underneath the book's cover image, hover over the stars until the desired number of stars is highlighted, then click on them to rate the book.
A pop-up menu will appear above the stars. Click on the Write a review text.
Enter your review on the next page then click <Save> to submit.
There's more details at their website.
Another great place to review and track the books you love is the LibraryThing which became free in March 2020. Also may also enjoy The StoryGraph which is competing with GoodReads by offering much better targeted recommendations.
Booktopia is Australia's leading online bookstore and suggests you make reviews fun, sad, dramatic or even make it rhyme. That is not essential of course, but give it a go and you could win one of the $100 gift vouchers they give away to the top three reviews each month (NB: all reviews are entered for the prize automatically, but you do need to have purchased the book from their site to claim the prize.) https://www.booktopia.com.au/review-to-win/promo2898.html
Length: maximum 350 words.
You can leave a review for any book that’s sold by Booktopia. Search on for the title on their website. For example, Nelson’s Folly is here: https://www.booktopia.com.au/nelson-s-folly-oliver-greeves/book/9780645023701.html
On the book’s page, just under its title, will be either an option to "Be the first to write a review" or "Write a review". When you click on that, a form will appear. Fill it in and click to submit your review. You will need to provide an email to confirm you who you are, but they do allow ‘nickname’ reviews if you prefer to stay incognito online.
The more positive reviews a book has, the higher it will rank in Amazon's search results, making it easier for potential readers to find. To review here, you need to have an active Amazon account.
If you buy books here, consider giving an indie author you like a boost by buying their book at the same time as an established author. This will give them bonus points when the mysterious Amazon algorithm is selecting books for its "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought This" feature.
Amazon also gives ‘bonus points’ in their advertising algorithm to books with lots of reviews – which means any ads for that book get the best placement for a cheaper price. Amazon are not trying to make life extra tough for debut authors: they are being tactical as people are more likely to click through on books that already look popular and Amazon gets their advertising $ per click.
If you know the book’s ISBN, here’s a shortcut: www.Amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin=insert your books ASIN or ISBN-10 number. Eg you can leave a review for Nelson’s Folly at: www.Amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin=0645023701
Otherwise, for any book, go to http://www.Amazon.com and select your country at the top right – see the flag?
Scroll down for what can seem like a long time - yes even under the ‘Products related to this item’ section.
On the left, see Customer Reviews.
Under that, click on <Write a customer review>. If you are not already logged in, it will ask you to do so.
Then select a Star Rating. While you can leave it at that, it makes for a much better review if you explain what impressed you about the book. You can add photos, or videos, but not sure who does that! Remember to click <Submit>.
Barnes and Noble
For Barnes and Noble, search for the book on the home page, scroll down on its page and under Customer Review, select <click here>. A pop up form gives you suggestions. It’s easy to fill in. You can use a pseudonym if you wish. You need to give your email for confirmation.
Google My Business
Not many authors can be on this platform unless they are selling copies from their home or office or they are doing a local delivery service. But if they are, it’s a terrific place to do a review especially if the author has their own website. Your review will give them algorithm bonus points. You need your own Google Account to post a review and no nicknames here; your comments will be public.
Open Google and search for your author. If they have listed on GMB, a profile of their business will appear on the right of your search. It can be hard to generate so it's best if you know where they live. For example try Oliver Greeves Author near North Sydney.
About half way down is a heading ‘Reviews’. Select <Write a Review>.
A sign-in box will appear if you're not signed in to your Google account so you can do so. Focus on what sort of people would enjoy the book.
If you have any photos of your author speaking in public or with you at an event, please add them. Uploading these gives even more Google search engine maximisation points so your favourite author will find it helpful, unless it's a photo of them too merry at a private party at your place. Then you should get their permission first. That's always good practice before publishing photos on public sites.
To add a photo click on <Add a Photo> which is next to <Add a Review>.
Image: Clue - this bookshop is famous for character not cataloguing.
A Note Re: Privacy
Your review is online so if people search your name any review under your name will come up. This helps to encourage politeness and accountability.
With so many online sellers, the pressure is for authors to write simple books fast and sell them cheap, rather than spending the time to write a quality, well-researched book. So when you find such a book, you are doing a service for all readers when you take the time to review it online.
Often an excellent book may have less than 20 reviews because its readers are just not into posting – they are reading, not playing video games after all. Unfortunately, in our digital age, having only a few reviews makes it look like the book is unpopular and that becomes a self-fulling prophesy as low reviews don’t feed online algorithms making it even more unlikely that potential readers will ever even find the book.
And what if you didn’t like the book? Then yes of course you can leave a one or two star review, but please be constructive. Writing well is tough and if you hated the ending, that's a spoiler. It's better to tell the author your criticisms directly – many review sites also have ‘ask the author pages’ and many authors have their own websites with email links. That way the author can use your feedback towards writing their next book.
If you have any reviewing tips to share from your experiences or other sites worth visiting, please share in the comments below. If you have any questions, you are welcome to direct message me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/nadja-leffler-sydney/ Keep reading and share the love!
by Nadja Leffler, Principal. Artemis Marketing Comms.
Image: The books tell all. Now you know.