Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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February 8, 2016

Help Your Readers Write Good Reviews

Penny Sansevieri

Book Reviews

Getting readers to write reviews, and encouraging them to do so, is a big part of what authors do to gain more visibility for their books. We know though that it’s not just any review, but a quality one that truly benefits your book. Quality reviews, meaning reviews that are more than “I liked this book,” can actually help to sell the book better than shorter, less specific reviews.

I’ve heard from numerous authors who have readers that post Amazon reviews, for which they are extremely grateful, but wish they were more detailed. You’ve all seen those short reviews on Amazon that say little more than “Loved this book!” While it’s fantastic that someone took the time to leave a review, short reviews like that do little to help a book along. They are often frowned upon by Amazon and could get pulled if the review seems disingenuous.

Read more about why Amazon reviews get pulled.

So how can you encourage your readers to not only review your book, but leave one that is meaningful?

First, let’s talk about what we look for in reviews as consumers. When a book has several great, detailed reviews, we tend to scan them for highlights on the things that matter to us. That’s how we often buy books. Both good and bad reviews can help us decide, and, frankly, I’ve often bought a book after I read a bad review because what the reviewer didn’t like was exactly what I was looking for. That’s why detailed reviews are not only helpful, but they’re a must for your Amazon page.

So, if you have readers who love your work but aren’t savvy on posting reviews, here are some tips you can share with those who want to post something about your book:

  • Whenever possible or appropriate, ask the reviewer to add their expertise on the topic if your book relates to nonfiction.
  • If you have identified your keywords, share them with any friends who are posting and ask them that, if appropriate, they include the keywords in the review.
  • Ask readers to post reviews that are between 100 and 450 words.
  • If a reader feels compelled to include a spoiler, ask them to post a warning first so the customer can chose to read on—or not.
  • Never, ever, ever offer to edit a review. You want honest appraisals, not watered-down reviews that all sound alike.
  • It’s important that the reviewer cite why the book mattered to them. This also personalizes the review for the reader.

If your reviewer still isn’t sure how to craft a review, here are some starter questions to help them along:

  1. What did you like most about the book?
  2. What about the book surprised you?
  3. Did the book cover the content as described?
  4. Do you think you got your money’s worth?
  5. What could the author have done better?
  6. How does it compare to other books in this category?
  7. Please cite any books you’d compare this one to.

These simple tips and questions can help your readers leave reviews that reflect their honest opinion, but can also help dress up your Amazon page with quality reviews that will encourage future readers to read your book!

Now that you know what makes up a quality review, how do you ask your readers to leave these reviews? Stay tuned! Next time, we’ll be talking about the different types of reviews, and how you can get more reviews for your book!

Do you review books? How do you currently encourage your readers to leave reviews? What questions do you have for Penny?

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About Penny

Author MarkketingPenny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free newsletter, send a blank email to: mailto:subscribe@amarketingexpert.com

Copyright @2016 Penny C. Sansevieri

Top photo credit: MariaGodfrida - Pixabay

9 comments on “Help Your Readers Write Good Reviews”

  1. Thank you so much for spelling out how to help readers give better reviews. My readers certainly need this information, and thanks to you, I know what to share with them so they can do exactly that.

  2. Great post, Penny! When I write reviews, I try to balance my reasons for enjoying the book with constructive criticism. To me, that's the kind of information that really helps readers decide whether to read that book. I tend to ignore reviews that don't do that, since they're not useful at all.

  3. I used to have more content in reviews I left, but I found authors were just as happy with short reviews. Some preferred them. Amazon's benchmarks are more about the quantity of reviews and sometimes key words left in the reviews will hurt a review or the author--never mention the author's name in review is one of the flags. Amazon itself is the one who has the power to take away reviews compared to other sales' sites. They monitor the reviews. Reviews on BN, BAM, itunes, Google Play are better for content-heavy reviews. Amazon doesn't seem to care about the reviews left on GR or shelfari which are both Amazon companies. Smashwords and Kobo only allow reviews if the books were purchased from them.


  4. I think there are about 4 things in a review. Did I like the book. Why or why not.
    What is the best part and would I recommend the book. I try to follow this but
    sometimes get carried away.

  5. I loved your advice and posted it to the Maryland Nanowrimo Facebook page. We're all in the midst of revising our November novels and we're going to have to think about this. Right? Thanks!

  6. Thank you for the list of Qs. It is hard to think about your book in the way the outsider would think. Great tips.

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