It surprised me, when I first started reading and writing and connecting with other authors, how few reviews are left for some truly fabulous books. The general consensus is that only about 1-2% or reviewers actually will leave a review for a book they’ve read, even if they loved it. And among erotic romance writers? The numbers are even lower. That means that if a book sells 1000 copies, the writer will be lucky to get even 10 reviews.
And we writers love reviews. We love hearing reader feedback. What did you like about the book? How did it make you feel? Do you want to read more in the series? Even a simple “I loved this book!” can truly make an author’s day. Writing is, by and large, solitary work, and the feedback from readers truly inspires us to write more.
So I decided to ask around and find out why reviews are hard to come by. Why are readers so reluctant to leave a review?
First, Many are afraid they can’t write a review anonymously. No one really wants their pastor or boss to know they’ve spent the weekend snarfing down Fifty Shades. I get it, truly. But it’s actually very easy to write an anonymous review and I’ll show you how.
Second, some don’t know how to actually leave a review. No problem, let’s walk right through the technicalities.
Third, some are afraid it will be time-consuming, and it’s hard to find the time. I have a few tips on how to make it a quick process.
Fourth, many think you need to have bought the book to leave a review. Not true, and I’ll explain below.
But finally, I would say the biggest obstacle people face when writing a review is that they truly don’t know what to write, even if they loved the book.
So recently, I posed the question, asking other writers and readers if they could share their advice on writing reviews. Here, I’ve put together the advice they gave, some helpful tips, and a super easy run-down on how to write reviews.
We’re all busy, and you want the nitty gritty, right? I’ll do my very best to keep this concise.
CAN I LEAVE AN ANONYMOUS REVIEW?
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
- Click on the book you want to review, and that will take you to the book page (the screen where you have buy links, reviews, a blurb, etc.).
- Below the book description, scroll down until you see “Write a customer review.” Click that.
- You will be taken to the review page. In the upper right-hand corner, it says “Your public name.” You can choose Anonymous, “Amazon Customer,” or a screen name.
If you do this, no personal information will show on a review. Please note: though no name appears on a review, it’s been brought to my attention that if someone clicks on an anonymous review, if there is a *public* wish list, the account name may show up. To prevent this,hide all wish lists to make them private, or use a separate email account.
WHERE DO I LEAVE A REVIEW?
- After you choose the name that will be visible, you are asked how you would describe the book. You simply click a word or two.
- Choose a star-rating
- Under the stars, there is a box where you can leave your review. This is where you write your text (more on that below). You can choose to write a headline or let Amazon do that for you.
- After writing, click submit. Amazon will email you when your review is live.
HOW DO I LEAVE A QUICK REVIEW?
You don’t have to write a lengthy analysis of the book. If you liked it, a simple “I really liked this book,” would be fantastic. It’s the number of reviews that help an author, not necessarily the lengthy ones. It’s great to have detailed reviews (more on that below), but the more reviews an author gets, the greater visibility their book gets on Amazon.
That said, I have a simple system I have for leaving reviews. I made myself a quick little template I follow that I have in a Word doc. After I read a book, I pull it up, type out the review, and paste it into the review box on Amazon. That way there’s no need for me to re-invent the wheel every time.
Once you know how to leave a review, it can be done literally in minutes. I’ll share that below.
DO I HAVE TO BUY THE BOOK TO LEAVE A REVIEW?
No. It’s true that verified purchase reviews have greater weight, but readers receive advanced copies (ARCs) of books all the time, and Amazon allows reviewers to leave reviews without having made a purchase.
WHAT DO I SAY?
Keep in mind, you don’t have to write a lengthy review. A simple, “LOVED IT” or “GREAT BOOK” or some such line is perfectly acceptable. One reader who reviewed for me told me she felt badly her review wasn’t very long or involved. However, in her review she told me it was her favorite book of the year. I loved that review! It’s validating to know your work is appreciated.
Here, I’ll share the template I use and then share the fantastic tips other writers and readers have shared with me. I’ve changed it up a bit but this is the basic review template I use:
- Feel of the book
- Quick plot review
- Pull a quote
And here’s an example of a review I just left for Jade Cary’s Bella Rosa, using my bare bones template.
I loved this book. It was a captivating suspense, steamy romance, and serious page-turner. It’s a fairly lengthy book compared to others in the genre, and I enjoyed sinking into this read. I loved the chemistry between Rowan – headstrong, feisty, and courageous and Vince, the only man strong enough to take her on. When Rowan and her children are in danger, Vince is assigned to protect them. As the story unfolds, they fall for one another, overcoming one obstacle after another, not the least of which is the fact that Rowan is reluctant to submit to Vince’s uncompromising old-fashioned standards. She is fiercely independent and he fiercely protective; when the two collide, they ignite. “His look was feral, and his eyes danced. She wanted to slap him; she wanted to kiss him.” A well-written, super steamy romance with well-rounded characters.This book will go on my re-read pile.
Alexis Alvarez: When I review other authors, these days I only like to leave 4 or 5 star reviews. If I think it’s a 3, I don’t leave a review. Because I’m not a professional reviewer, I figure that’s all right. 🙂 I like to share the positive books with the reading community. I’ll still leave low star reviews on Amazon for home goods/etc.
Things I find important in a good review:
-Don’t summarize the entire plot; focus on emotions, themes, and feelings. People can read the blurb to find out what the book is about – the review needs to tell them what they cannot get from the blurb.
-Include details. If you’re going to rave about the book or bash it, you need examples to back up your stance.
-Don’t put in minuses or “things that didn’t work for me” just to do it. If your review is 100% positive, that’s all right.
-If there really is a minus or a “thing that didn’t work for me,” don’t be afraid to include it.
-Try to create a catchy review title that looks fun to read.
-Try to spellcheck your review before publishing; it will make it seem smarter/more reliable. Never use all caps. Avoid excessive exclamation points.
Here are some examples of my reviews:
Book: Retribution by Natasha Knight
Review Title:Dark and passionate, gut-wrenching and painful, with an ultimate message of hope and redemption. Well done!
Wow. This book is the epitome of a well-written, dark romance. And by “dark” I don’t mean a little non-con spanking and angst. This is a book that delves right into the psyche of a man who’s so broken, and who does such brutal things, that he doesn’t deserve forgiveness — but he gets it anyway, from a woman who has the strength to help him heal, and who believes that forgiving him is the best way to save her own soul from the darkness.
Natasha has a talent for writing this kind of character — a person who goes so far beyond the line of what’s acceptable that he seems barely salvageable, and then she rescues him from the prison of his mind and has him redeem himself. And the partner to this man is a woman who is able to forgive the unforgivable and help them both move from pain to love.
It’s a very difficult genre story to write, and it fails in the hands of most other writers who attempt this literary tightrope, but Natasha doesn’t fall. She delivers a story that’s gut-wrenching and painful to read at times, but delivers a positive message at the end: No matter how messed up the world is, there is always a chance to make it right again. Love really can conquer all.
So be warned, this book is NOT for the faint-hearted. If you’re afraid of non-consensual BDSM and capture fantasy, this isn’t for you. But if you love a shivery, dark story, this book will take you to the heights of despair and passion both. Well done, Natasha!
Here’s an example for Leslie McAdam.
Book: The Sun and the Moon
Review Title:McAdam shoots for the stars and hits the sun in this gorgeous debut novel
This is a 5-star debut novel from author Leslie McAdam, full of poetry, humor and hope. It’s the story of Amelia, who overcomes depression and a devastating personal tragedy through her own confidence and inner strength. But don’t let the words “depression” and “tragedy” steer you away, because that’s the heroine’s past. Her present is the good times, the part where she meets surfer/coffee shop owner and sex God Ryan, who rocks her world on its axis and lets her see the stars in the sky for the first time in a very long time.
McAdam’s writing style is confident, fluent and skilled, and she writes about everyday emotions and experiences in a fresh way that makes you say, “Yes! That’s how it is! Yes, she gets what it’s like to be human.”
Consider a line like this: “Time passed. People grew old and died. Planets were born from stardust,” about how she feels time stop when first looking into his eyes.
Or this one, on chasing an orgasm: “I’d a better change at getting an orgasm in the NARS aisle of Sephora. There, an “orgasm” was a certainty, after I handed over my credit card for an overpriced powdered blush, in a pinky-peach color, called ORGASM.”
Or this amazing one: “Ollivander got me a special wand.” (When she texts someone a picture of her new vibrator!)
The writing is clever and good, and the story keeps you interested the whole way through. McAdam doesn’t need to resort to crazy plot twists and deus ex machina assists; she lets her writing be the guide to take you through a fantastic story about people who could be your friends. The sex is hot but not porny, and will make you yearn for a Ryan of your own. I don’t know if ee cummings read romance novels, but I guarantee he’d like this one. It will put the sun, the moon and all the stars in your eyes.
I can’t wait to read more from McAdam. I recommend this book – read it! You won’t be disappointed.
REVIEW TIPS FROM FELLOW WRITERS AND READERS:
Laurel Lasky: I fear that writing a book is not telling the story. That’s was the blurb and excerpt which gives that away. I like to write how it affected me and my feelings. Happy, sad, surprised, some authors get upset if you tell too much and you may accidentally give away secrets, like the butler did it. Humor is good if it’s appropriate.
Libby Campbell: When I review, which isn’t as often as it should be, it’s always under the name ‘Amazon Customer’ after amazon randomly crossed my erotica pen name with my mainstream author name.
All the same, I try to review with a spirit of generosity and kindness.
Readers might like to imagine what authors might say if we walked into their workplaces and reviewed their hard work in a way that either enhanced or hampered their ability to earn a living.
Simple questions for reviewers are: did the book reach you in some way? What was the author trying to do? Did they achieve it? Was the book well written?
And if they really hate something? Maybe don’t leave a review at all? I never rubbish anyone’s work. I have too much respect for the process
Sandra H: I never give a synopsis because readers can read the blurb for themselves, I don’t give spoilers, and I do always give my feelings after reading, sometimes I will encourage the purchase of the book, sometimes I discuss the quality of the plot and writing. I don’t write it beforehand I just post as soon as I’m done reading, straight from my Kindle.
Sienna Bloom: I always start with something I really liked, add something that might be improved and finish with something I liked again. I sometimes don’t have anything I think needs improved so I skip it. But, sometimes the work just wasn’t that great. In which case, I say something that I like about it even if I just found the characters likable and then gently point out the ONE thing that needed the most work. Often what I wish is that the work had been professionally edited by both a developmental editor as well as a copy editor.
Heidi Rundle from Cariadbooks.net: When I started I had a template. I found I always start on a positive and end on a positive.
Merry W: I like to do a quick summary and then explain why I liked the book. I also like to let other readers know if there is a HEA. I, personally, like the story to have a HEA, but that really doesn’t make a difference to me. I like to be able to engage with the characters, whether it is good or bad. I review under my real name.
Alyssa Bailey: I assume you read the blurb so then I highlight the feel of the book, where it took me and then if there was something I wished it had I add that but finish with something positive so your ending flavor is sweet. But I don’t review below 3 and usually don’t do 3 because Amazon sees three not as average but negative. Pickett scales should not be read that way but they do.
Dulcie Taylor: My thoughts: As a reader, I have to avoid reviews before I buy a book (which defeats the purpose I think) because there are too many spoilers. Some, are like movie trailers — all the good parts have been highlighted. As an author I love when reviewers give those in depth reviews. But really who’s the review for?
I hope you have found this post helpful. Please share, comment below with additional tips and write a review today! 🙂