Writing a Review 101

Like playwrights of Broadway shows, authors of books live and die with reviews.  It has always amazed me how reluctant the average reader is to post a review for a book that they have read (and hopefully enjoyed).  What amazes me even more is how someone can accept a free Kindle book, read it, and never post a review.  Hey, you got the book for free, the least you can do is show your appreciation by posting a review.

How exactly should you write a review?  That appears to be a common question.  In my opinion, there are only four criteria for writing a review:

  1. Did you like or dislike the book?
  2. If you liked it, why? (Interesting characters, good dialogue, strong storyline,etc.)
  3. If you didn’t like it, why not?  (You found the characters lacking in dimension, or the dialogue was unrealistic, or the story was not believable.)
  4. Would you recommend the book to a friend?

One need not be a literary genius to write a competent review.  If you follow the criteria listed above, you should have no problem.  One thing a review should not be is mean spirited or confrontational.  Here is an example of a review I posted for a book I enjoyed:

“As a lover of mysteries, I am drawn to books with substance. Redemption Road is solid, with characters fully fleshed out, not perfect, but believable. Mr. Hart leads us on journey that is at once complicated yet straightforward, with a skill that is studied and sure. Be prepared to spend long chunks of time with this book. It deserves your attention.

Be concise; tell what you liked or didn’t like about the book, and whether or not you would recommend it.  Case closed.  Simple.  It’s not rocket surgery (to use a mixed metaphor).  If you really didn’t like a book, write a review anyway.  I believe there is always something nice you can say about a book (maybe you just liked the cover).  Don’t be afraid to say it.  Do not use the review as an opportunity to completely tear apart someone’s work.  Authors don’t produce their books overnight.  Each book involves a lot of hard work. I have written six novels and two non-fiction books.  Each one took between twelve and eighteen months of work to complete. As the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield would often say: “I don’t get no respect.”  The same is true for authors.  A review is a way for you to pay an author respect. 

I recently gave away 381 free downloads during a promotional campaign for the latest Matt Davis mystery, Deadly Ransom.  Amazingly, not one person who received the book for free took the time to post a review. With that in mind, I am asking anyone who took advantage of that free offer to please post a review.  Obviously, I am not soliciting reviews from those who absolutely abhored the book (I hope there aren’t many of you), but rather from those who enjoyed it and just forgot to post a review.  Make it your New Year’s resolution to treat authors with more respect.  I’m counting on you!  Here’s a link to post your review.

Many thanks, and Happy New Year!  

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with a friend, or reblog it on your own site. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “follow” button at the lower righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. I only post one per week, and I never share email addresses. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at: www.joeperronejr.com.
Also, check out the pocketbook editions of the Matt Davis mystery series.  They’re only $9.95 each from Amazon.com.

About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at: http://www.joeperronejr.com.
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16 Responses to Writing a Review 101

  1. After holding a two-day book giveaway on Goodreads, I received no reviews—even after follow-up reminders. I think some people prefer the “free” aspect rather than the actual “read and review” idea. Maybe I should’ve put the review police on their trail. (Joking)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. allenrizzi says:

    All authors have the same conundrum of reviews. Personally, I review everything I buy from books to music downloads. Maybe I have too much time on my hands but it seems that most readers are just plain too lazy to leave a review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. KiM says:

    I agree and I had a post on my blog from 2015 about leaving reviews titled “What authors want you to know”. I try to post reviews on lots of products but especially books. I hope this year to make time to read several novels.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great idea! Line me up as your first guest, okay? 🙂


  5. Bruce says:

    Your explanation and instructions for book reviews could apply to any product. As consumers, most of us look at reviews to help us decide what brand appliance to purchase. Consumer Reports and Angie’s List exist because of reviews. Many readers don’t realize that a book is also a product. While poetry and prose are art forms, commercial fiction is more like a food product designed to appeal to consumers tastes. How about a show like Chopped for books? Instead of appetizers, main courses and deserts, a panel could evaluate opening scenes, hooks and character arcs, created by competing writers in one hour.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. balroop2013 says:

    I absolutely agree with you Joe…reviews are lifelines for books but readers don’t think so! I asked my daughter who is a voracious reader and has never posted a review, not even for my poetry! She just shrugged and smiled at my question!!
    Talking about constructive review…one of the reviews I received for my ‘Emerging From Shadows’ baffled me as the reader says “too much alliteration, alienates readers, not poetic!!” 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL. Don’t feel too bad, Balroop. Of my four children, one has read all of my eight books, and another has read two. The other two offspring are a combined 0 for 16. We are witnessing a decline in civilization. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post, Joe! Sharing…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post, Joe. Many people say, “I don’t know how to write a review.” Your post tells us how. I will re-post this to reach more of our NCWN-West writers. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your request for review comments has merit. A review is like a payday for an author. The inclusion of warranted critical comments provides an author with an opportunity to grow and improve. No feedback may mean the next book suffers in the same way.

    Liked by 2 people

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