A Free Gift You Can Give to Authors: How to Write a Book Review (for a Fiction Book)

During this holiday season, if you are thankful for a book you’ve read, or if there’s an author you want to do something special for, here’s a simple, free gift you can give them. It will only take a few minutes of your time, and the author will really appreciate it, more than anything else you could give them.

Here what it is: Write a simple, one-paragraph review–good or bad–of one of their books, and post it on a free site. I’ll show you how to write such a review easily and quickly. This kind of review is great for posting on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, GoodReads, Google Books, and other similar sites. You can even turn it into a quick blog post, with a little bit of enhancement. The review does not need to go into detail as to what the book is about, because that information is already on the pages where you’ll be posting your review.

Here’s how to write one:

  1. First, ask yourself a few simple questions:
    • What struck you the best about the book? This could be one of the characters, the way the author tells her story, the quality of her prose, or anything else that strikes you in a positive way.
    • What struck you the worst about the book? Again, this can be any quality or characteristic of the book.
    • Do you plan to read more books in the series (if applicable) or by the same author?
    • How did the story make you feel? This is especially important for fiction, but a good non-fiction book should make you feel something, too: agitated, excited, hopeful, depressed, introspective, or whatever.
    • What one biggest lesson, discovery, or new idea did you take away from the book? This is especially important for non-fiction, but a good fiction book should expose you to new ideas and make you think, and so it too should have a take-away.
  2. Write the answers down in paragraph form, using a word-processor or text editor… or using the “Stickies” application on your Mac. You don’t have to be fancy about what you write. Just write casually, as though you were telling a friend about the book, around the water cooler.
  3. Rate the book on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. The rating system I use is very simple, and I can instantly come up with a consistent rating, based on my gut-reaction to a book. No complex analysis required.
    • 1 star — I hated it. (And if I really hated it, ½ star, for those sites that support such a low rating.)
    • 2 stars — I didn’t like, and didn’t hate it, either. (This is the worst rating, because it means the book didn’t even make enough of an impact for me to hate it.)
    • 3 stars — I liked it, but I probably won’t be reading more books like it, if I can help it.
    • 4 stars — I really liked it, enough so that I would like to read more books like it (or the same book over again), someday.
    • 5 stars — I loved it, so much that I feel a sense of loss for having finished it, so much that I long to read more books like this (not “someday” but right now), so much that I can almost taste the next book in the series and can’t wait for Amazon to deliver it, so much that… Well, you get the idea, right?
  4. Post your review on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, GoodReads.com, books.LivingSocial.com, books.Google.com, and any other book sites you frequent that accept user reviews. Just log in to the site (if required), copy and paste your paragraph into the form on each site, select the appropriate number of stars according to your rating, and submit your review.
  5. Bonus: Repurpose the review as a blog post for your blog. Entitle the post something like “Book Review: [book title]” or a similarly descriptive title. Write the words “Publisher’s description:” and copy and paste the book description from the publisher’s information at Amazon. Or alternatively, copy the book description from the book’s back cover, and preface it with the words “From the back cover:” or the like. After the publisher’s description, paste in your one-paragraph review. Then give your rating at the end.

If you’re an author, you probably appreciate how meaningful reader reviews are. We know that readers don’t always love our books, at least not as much as we love them. But always for an author, the challenge is to get noticed. And reader reviews not only help your favorite author get noticed, they’ll also comfort him that people are indeed reading his books.

-TimK

P.S. A free gift you can give to me is to review my first book of The Conscience of Abe’s Turn. Please, download the PDF version of The Conscience of Abe’s Turn (Season 1, Volume 1) for free.