If you have purchased a book, you’re a customer. That means you have all the qualifications necessary to write and post a customer review on Amazon, Goodreads, or anywhere you wish. So, what’s stopping you? Many readers say that they are unsure of how to write a customer review. They’re afraid it won’t be “good enough” or that they don’t write “well enough.”
Have no fear. You’re a customer, you have every right to leave that review, and you CAN write a good one! The purpose of this post is to share some insights and opinions (mine, of course) regarding reviews. I’d like to encourage my readers to leave their thoughts for the benefit of other readers. An honest review helps everybody.
What matters in a customer review?
—Honesty above all.
In fact, I might suggest it’s the only thing that matters.
If you’re wondering what to say, just imagine that a friend has asked you whether he/she should read the book. What would you tell your friend? What did you like about the book? What did you not like about the book? Can you recommend it, or would you pass it by? You want to help your friend choose wisely. If you couldn’t finish the book, say so. If it was too violent, say so. If it was absolutely captivating, tell your friend why. There are no wrong answers here.
What doesn’t matter in a customer review?
–Impeccable mechanics. You’re a customer, not a writer. We, the potential purchasers, are reading your review to gain insight–not to criticize your writing ability. Have no fear.
–Biting wit and satirical brilliance. While these may add entertainment value to your review, they are absolutely not required and might, in fact, distract us from whatever guidance you’re trying to give.
–Length. Helpful reviews might be lengthy, or very brief. The point is that they helped me make a sound purchasing decision. Some reviews, in my opinion, are a bit too lengthy–they take up two columns of text on Amazon and I find myself skimming through the extensive plot summary. I dislike plot summaries in general unless they are very minimal. In my opinion, they are not necessary in a customer review. I want to know what the customer thought of the book.
Here’s an example of a brief, but potentially helpful, review. “I enjoyed this book. I liked the story and the characters–it was an exciting and emotionally draining read. However, I could have done without the graphic sex scene tossed into the middle of chapter twelve. If that doesn’t bother you, you’ll probably like the book.” ***3 stars.
(Now, see, I might buy this one just to read chapter twelve and see what the big deal is…ha!)
You are sharing your opinion with other customers. You have no duty to the author whatsoever. In fact, we appreciate the fact that you took valuable time to sit down and write a review of our work. Even if you hated it, we appreciate your sharing with others. We want readers to find our books–readers who are likely to love them. Critical reviews help with that. Example: “I hated this book. It has frogs in it and I hate frogs.” First of all, if I also hate frogs, I’ll appreciate the heads-up. Second, as the author I would rather warn people who hate frogs to choose another book, as they are unlikely to be happy with mine. And those who love frogs will purchase it–they are the readers I’m hoping to reach. There are no wrong answers.
A few things we should avoid:
–Spoilers. Probably not a good idea to tell us who the murderer is or that the dog dies (although I would appreciate that one, as I won’t buy the book if the dog dies).
–Superlatives. Statements such as “This book should be thrown into a pit of flaming lava,” or “This is the best book ever written,” are perhaps less than helpful. You might believe it, but we might not take it seriously.
–Personal attacks. We might disagree with the author, but it’s best if we confine our criticism to the work and not extend it to the author personally. (I recall one reviewer who, having expressed his dislike of my strong heroines, questioned the fact that I could have ever been married, as stated in my bio.)
So, to summarize, tell us what you think of the work. Tell us as you would a friend asking for a recommendation. Don’t fuss, don’t give away too much of the story, and don’t get personal. You’re a customer–you’re qualified!
Until next time,