All Things Writing

How to Write a Simple Book Review and, More Importantly, Why You Should

August 15, 2020 Bryan the Writer Season 1 Episode 21
All Things Writing
How to Write a Simple Book Review and, More Importantly, Why You Should
Chapters
All Things Writing
How to Write a Simple Book Review and, More Importantly, Why You Should
Aug 15, 2020 Season 1 Episode 21
Bryan the Writer

I want to talk about writing a quick and easy review of a book. But more importantly, I want to tell you why you should.

Reviews should be simple and easy and not take much time. A while ago, I did a youtube video about it. You can find it here.

But the bigger question is why should you? Fair question.

It doesn’t matter how many books I’ve written, or how much money I spent in advertising, ultimately the algorithms rely very heavily on the information provided by the purchasers themselves. There is a difference between books that get one review an books that get 20 reviews. If you have a book that gets 20 or more reviews, it is more likely that this book will be picked up by the advertising algorithms that Amazon or any other book seller uses. At the end of the day, it is all about sales. This is indeed significant, because when it’s picked up by the algorithms it gets in front of more faces.

Reviews don’t necessarily only amount to a monetary reward. In fact, many authors will tell you that a good book review will float their boat for many weeks. I don’t mind telling you that there is been times that have been tempted to give up writing completely only to have a really nice review sent to me. The review can make all the difference in the world.

So, it could be that those kind words you wrote are the kind words that keep your favorite author at their keyboards.

A simple review includes the following three elements:

  • State if you like the book. Ex. “I just read book X, I really enjoyed it.”
  • State what you liked about the book. Ex. “It is really well written, and I love how the characters came alive on the page.”
  • State an intent. Ex. “I can’t wait for the next book in the series.” or “I can’t wait to read the rest of his/her works.”

Here is an example of something similar. An actual review of my novel, Riapoke. “Very entertaining for sci fi lovers. Quick enjoyable read.” 

Quick, concise, and easy. It didn’t take them more than a few seconds to write that and then hit submit.

Next we will move on to what I consider more of a mid-level review. Mid-level reviews are little bit more in depth, they’re typically the ones I leave when I write a review. They consist of the following.

  • A little bit about the beginning part of the story. 
  • Some of the aspects of the book that I like. 
  • A recommendation about what to do next.

Here's an example of one from my book Riapoke.

Stories of ‘strange’ neighbourhoods and remote towns have existed for years and will continue. The premise of something being ‘not quite right’ is a superb vehicle for a tale of terror. Mr Nowak draws the reader in with a rapidly evolving plot which all sounds very normal, and then things start to go wrong for a few of the characters, and in a bad, almost irretrievable way.

The sense of foreboding is related well and feels like the stuff of nightmares. I was impressed that when the pace picked up the action rarely eased, which if not done well can be exhausting.

Paranormal activity in such a story is fitting, rather than added as some authors produce a sort of ‘copy and paste’ section, so once again, this was an area where the author succeeded in my opinion.

A good terror/horror tale staged in a moder

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Show Notes Transcript

I want to talk about writing a quick and easy review of a book. But more importantly, I want to tell you why you should.

Reviews should be simple and easy and not take much time. A while ago, I did a youtube video about it. You can find it here.

But the bigger question is why should you? Fair question.

It doesn’t matter how many books I’ve written, or how much money I spent in advertising, ultimately the algorithms rely very heavily on the information provided by the purchasers themselves. There is a difference between books that get one review an books that get 20 reviews. If you have a book that gets 20 or more reviews, it is more likely that this book will be picked up by the advertising algorithms that Amazon or any other book seller uses. At the end of the day, it is all about sales. This is indeed significant, because when it’s picked up by the algorithms it gets in front of more faces.

Reviews don’t necessarily only amount to a monetary reward. In fact, many authors will tell you that a good book review will float their boat for many weeks. I don’t mind telling you that there is been times that have been tempted to give up writing completely only to have a really nice review sent to me. The review can make all the difference in the world.

So, it could be that those kind words you wrote are the kind words that keep your favorite author at their keyboards.

A simple review includes the following three elements:

  • State if you like the book. Ex. “I just read book X, I really enjoyed it.”
  • State what you liked about the book. Ex. “It is really well written, and I love how the characters came alive on the page.”
  • State an intent. Ex. “I can’t wait for the next book in the series.” or “I can’t wait to read the rest of his/her works.”

Here is an example of something similar. An actual review of my novel, Riapoke. “Very entertaining for sci fi lovers. Quick enjoyable read.” 

Quick, concise, and easy. It didn’t take them more than a few seconds to write that and then hit submit.

Next we will move on to what I consider more of a mid-level review. Mid-level reviews are little bit more in depth, they’re typically the ones I leave when I write a review. They consist of the following.

  • A little bit about the beginning part of the story. 
  • Some of the aspects of the book that I like. 
  • A recommendation about what to do next.

Here's an example of one from my book Riapoke.

Stories of ‘strange’ neighbourhoods and remote towns have existed for years and will continue. The premise of something being ‘not quite right’ is a superb vehicle for a tale of terror. Mr Nowak draws the reader in with a rapidly evolving plot which all sounds very normal, and then things start to go wrong for a few of the characters, and in a bad, almost irretrievable way.

The sense of foreboding is related well and feels like the stuff of nightmares. I was impressed that when the pace picked up the action rarely eased, which if not done well can be exhausting.

Paranormal activity in such a story is fitting, rather than added as some authors produce a sort of ‘copy and paste’ section, so once again, this was an area where the author succeeded in my opinion.

A good terror/horror tale staged in a moder

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Start for FREE

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Support the show (http://paypal.me/BryanNowak)

Podcast 021

 And welcome to the show. My name is Bryan the Writer and this is podcast number 21. I want to take a moment to thank all my supporters, I greatly appreciate it. And if you want to become a supporter all you have to do is click on the link in the show notes. It’s just that easy.

On this week’s program I want to talk about something that I haven’t talked about in a while. Not even sure I really talked about it on the podcast. I know I’ve done a video about it, but that was a long time ago. Instead of just telling you what this week show about, I am going to give you a few hints and see if you can figure it out yourself.

The first hint is that this is something everybody should do, but most people don’t. Any clue? No, not showering. Gross.

The second hint is that this is something that means more to authors than money, and in some instances it its weight in gold. No, not sending them carry out. But if you are, I love chicken cashew or lemon chicken.

The third hint is that this thing that I’m talking about can be a little intimidating, but the reason most people don’t do it is because they overthink it. You got it yet? No? 

Okay, I’m going to give you one more hint and then I’ll let you off the hook. But this hint, should give it away. This is something you should always do when you get to the end of the book.

Insert cricket noises here!

If you guessed that you should pour yourself a glass of Merlot, I like where your head is at, but you’re wrong. In fact, I’m talking about writing a book review.

If you’re like many of us, you haven’t written a book review since high school. And the problem is that most people equate a book review with a book report. I can promise you that if you write a book review, not only is it way easier, but Mrs. White is not going to put a giant C+ and the words, ‘you can do better’ across the top. No, our hesitance to write book reviews must change. I beseech and implore thee, dear writer and reader, that has to change.

Years ago, it used to be that book reviews came out in only magazines and newspapers. Authors and publishers used to wake up in the morning after book release just to see what the newspapers had said. However, those days went away with the horse drawn carriage. And today anybody can write a book review the moment they finish the book. And it doesn’t even have to be that difficult.

Book reviews come in many different forms, you can write them out, you can make a quick video and post it to Amazon, you can even podcast about it. These are all outlets you can use to write, or even speak, a book review.

But the bigger question is why should you? Fair question.

It doesn’t matter how many books I’ve written, or how much money I spent in advertising, ultimately the algorithms rely very heavily on the information provided by the purchasers themselves. There is a difference between books that get one review an books that get 20 reviews. If you have a book that gets 20 or more reviews, it is more likely that this book will be picked up by the advertising algorithms that Amazon or any other book seller uses. At the end of the day, it is all about sales. This is indeed significant, because when it’s picked up by the algorithms it gets in front of more faces. I know it sounds crazy, but it seems that to be successful … you have to be successful in the first place.

When I publish an e-book, all I make is about two dollars on the sale. If you consider that it takes me a year to write a book, you can think of it in terms of how much I’m getting paid per hour and amounts to less than one cent. Think about that. Would any of you take a job that pays less than one cent an hour?

However, when I write a book that gets lots of reviews and it gets picked up by the Amazon algorithms, that can translate into a lot more sales.

I do want to point out that reviews don’t necessarily only amount to a monetary reward. In fact, many authors will tell you that a good book review will float their boat for many weeks. I don’t mind telling you that there is been times that have been tempted to give up writing completely only to have a really nice review sent to me. The review can make all the difference in the world.

So, it could be that those kind words you wrote are the kind words that keep your favorite author at their keyboards. So how you do that that?

Well, when we come back, I’m going to talk about the structure of a review, how to write good reviews in each of those different categories, and I’ll even provide an example of each.

Insert commercial here

And were back.

The days of professional writers writing reviews are still with us. There are books out there that are dedicated to just writing book reviews. You can still find book review newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. I have used semi-professional book reviewers to write a review of my work. There’s no shame in that, every author does that since those book reviewers, will write you a nice review and then share your work on their newsletters. It’s a way to get your name out front of more people.

However, one cautionary note, I am against paying for reviews. If a website promises a review and then I get a notice that I have to pay for it, I walk away. I have, in the past, donated money to certain websites that do write reviews. I do this because I know how much it costs to indulge in a hobby where you were paying for website maintenance and other things. And sometimes, I give them a little bit more like go out and have a nice meal on me. I do appreciate the work that reviewers do, they are the unsung heroes of the writing world. So, I support when I can.

There are a couple different types of reviews that I write. Before I go into those let me tell you that I firmly believe that the moment I’m done reading a book, I write a review. I don’t put it off until next week. I don’t promise myself I get around to it. I don’t try to convince myself that I will wait until I get a couple of books read and then write them all at once. I do it literally the moment I turn that final page in the book. I want the words fresh in my mind.

There is some unnecessary trepidation when it comes to writing reviews. People convince themselves that in order to write a review they have to be some sort of expert. Nothing can be farther from the truth. All you really need is some objectivity, to have read the book, and the ability to string a couple of decent words together. And even that last part is not necessarily important. I have read a book review that was five stars and the words, ‘Me like good’ Apparently Mongo write book review, but it counts. That is the beauty of a book review.

Objectivity is the key. If you buy a book about vampires and you complain in your review that there’s too much blood, that’s kind of on you. A vampire book will have blood. In an anthology that I had one of my short stories in, we got a one-star review that said the stories were all bizarre. Bizarre is literally the name of the book. It left me wondering what the reader was expecting. But all the rest of the reviews were amazing, so I don’t care. If you like horror anthologies, I would suggest taking a look at the book Bizarre: 14 horror stories on Amazon.

Okay, back on track. Once you have the idea of objectivity firmly in hand, then you can move on actually putting the review together.

The simplest type of review you can write is what I call a three liner, or short review. I have received these many times and they are perfect. The easiest way to describe the three liner is to tell you what every line is. The first line should state if you like the book. An example of this would be if you said, “I just read book X, I really enjoyed it.”

It’s just that simple. Don’t over think it.

The second sentence in a three liner just simply state what you liked about the book. “It is really well written, and I love how the characters came alive on the page.” Again, we ain’t launching spacecraft here, no need to over think it. You’ve only got three lines.

The third line in the three liner should state your intent. “I can’t wait for the next book in the series.” If it’s not a series, you can say simply, “I can’t wait to read the rest of his works.”

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, while not exactly 3 lines, it captures the spirit of what were going for. It is a review of my novel, Riapoke. “Very entertaining for sci fi lovers. Quick enjoyable read.” 

You can see that the reviewer was quick and concise. It didn’t take them more than a few seconds to write that and then hit submit.

I can’t hammer this idea enough, don’t over think it. Reviews like the one that I just read to you all count. Not flashy, not long, but they count and it made me smile from ear to ear.

Next we will move on to what I consider more of a mid-level review. Mid-level reviews are little bit more in depth, they’re typically the ones I leave when I write a review. I usually start off with a little bit about the beginning part of the story. Then I go into some of the aspects of the book that I like. For example, I’m a huge fan of character driven literature. I really don’t care for massive world building that takes you a whole chapter to read. I like to live in the dialogue where the action takes place. I also like characters to be vivid and alive.

Since I like characters, that is where I tend to spend the vast majority of my time when I am working on a review. 

You may be a huge fan of elaborate worlds where you need a dry erase marker board to keep track of where it all is in the story line. And that is okay. If that is what you like, then stick with it my friend. Don’t just give up on it. Write how you feel.

Lastly, I like to also include a recommendation where I tell the reader that I highly recommend the book.

Let me read you an example of one from my book Riapoke to give you a better example of what I am talking about.

Stories of ‘strange’ neighbourhoods and remote towns have existed for years and will continue. The premise of something being ‘not quite right’ is a superb vehicle for a tale of terror. Mr Nowak draws the reader in with a rapidly evolving plot which all sounds very normal, and then things start to go wrong for a few of the characters, and in a bad, almost irretrievable way.

The sense of foreboding is related well and feels like the stuff of nightmares. I was impressed that when the pace picked up the action rarely eased, which if not done well can be exhausting.

Paranormal activity in such a story is fitting, rather than added as some authors produce a sort of ‘copy and paste’ section, so once again, this was an area where the author succeeded in my opinion.

A good terror/horror tale staged in a modern environment.

 

Now I don’t want to take up a ton of time, but I want to share with you my most recent review I wrote. This was for the book, “Having a Ball: Adventures in Ghostsitting”.

Most of us go home at night, eat a little dinner, read, catch something on the television, and then fall asleep so we can do it all over again the next day. Rinse and repeat for most of our lives.

That is what Danner wants more than anything. To live the quiet life indulging in her secret art works and fantasy life which centers around her landlord. Her only bit of intrigue stems from her business working on people’s taxes and her occasional outings where she goes to her regular club. At least, that peace and quiet is what she thinks she wants.

When a grumpy gnome decides that Danner is officially his new master, everything falls apart in the time it takes the pizza guy to deliver the pizza her unwelcome houseguest is perpetually demanding. Matters only get worse when a magic eight-ball loves nothing more than to provide only the most obtuse answers.

“Having a Ball, Adventures in Ghostsitting,” is best described as a silly, sassy, fun book. There is plenty of room in our literary lives to enjoy something that deliberately takes us to a place where we are not thinking about the troubles of the day, but are increasingly obsessed with the havoc driven train wreck of a life Danner has.

Well written, well-paced, and full of characters who are likable, Having a Ball, by Misty Simon, is well worth the trip in my opinion. My highest praise of any book is that it did what it needed to do, entertained me. After all, isn’t that what good literature is supposed to do?

My only issue with the book, and this was indeed minor, is that there was too much lust driven inner dialogue with Danner. I don’t mind some of it, but it was a little thick in some parts. However, at no point did it make me want to put the book down.

Some have pointed out that there is not really a ghost in the book at all. While that is true, I wouldn't get too wrapped around the axle with that point. It is a fun read even without a ghost.

I can recommend you read “Having a Ball, Adventures in Ghostsitting” if you are looking for a great read that adds some of that missing funny silliness in your life.

 

The author was thrilled with my review of her book and shared it around. That is another great thing bout writing reviews if you are an author, they do help get your name out there too.

Now, there is a 3rd type of review that I am not going to go over here since I have little practical experience in. Suffice it to say, that is what you get with professional journalists who are doing a full-on dissection of the work. Now, you do not need to actually do these to understand them, just let me stop at the point where we get too heavily into it. Those kinds of reviews are hulking and not always very well written. It just depends on the chops of the writer.

Besides, there is no need to go into the 3rd. If you are going to write one of those, chances are good you already have more training on writing in the journalistic style than I do. 

Seriously though. Back to my original statement. You don’t need to fear the idea of writing a review. There is no need for it. At the end of the day, you can write almost anything, and it is still better than nothing. So, here is my advice. Are you ready to write it down?

You finish a book, you go to Amazon, Good Reads, or wherever you bought the book from and do a quick review. That’s it, that is my advice. 

It won’t take you more than a few minutes and you will make someone’s day. It may be the one thing that your favorite author sees which will keep him or her writing.

That is all I have for you this week. Remember that if you like our show, please subscribe so when new podcasts come out you can get them automatically. Also, if you like the show, please consider hitting the donate button in the upper right-hand corner. Any little bit helps from your pocket change to whatever you can throw in to help. 

Also, if you would like to sponsor a show, I will thank you profusely on the air, say wonderful things about your business on the air, or whatever you want. Sponsorships begin at the reasonable rate of $15 and episode to be an episode sponsor. Of course, for $30, I will not only thank you on the air, but send you the book of your choice.

Next week we are going to discuss Character profiles and a book review or two. So, you are not going to want to miss that. Grateful as always, this is Bryan the Writer, signing off.