This is a copy of one of the Street Team Welcome emails, for members of Tracy’s Street Team.

The sort of reviews you write for Amazon and other book seller sites are called “reader reviews” and they’re a lot different from professional reviews.

No one expects readers, for example, to summarize the plot, analyze the theme, and comment on how the book fits into the genre.

Nor does anyone expect perfect grammar, stylistic turns of phrase, and a carefully balanced and weighted opinion about the quality of the work.

Reader reviews are a reader’s gut reaction to a book and for authors and other readers, that’s sometimes way more useful information to have than all the professional reviews in the world.

Think about it: If you see a book with over one hundred five star reviews and the words the readers use are all squeally and UPPERCASE and littered with exclamation! points!!! you’ll be far more inclined to buy that book, than another book that also has a hundred reviews, but half of them are three star or worse, and the language is neutral.

“It was a good read” doesn’t deliver nearly the same amount of conviction as “This was a fantastic read!!”, does it? Although they mean more or less the same thing. This is how you can have a direct influence on the success (or not) of a book! Reader reviews really are that important! So, here’s some tips on how to write a reader review. You can use these tips and questions to help you write your review.

  • As soon as you finish the book (or toss it against the wall), grab a notepad and write down what you thought of the story. Don’t edit what you write — just spew your thoughts on the page. You can clean it up later. Think about how the story made you feel.
  • Also, give the book a rating out of five stars right now, while you’re still in your post-reading headspace. You can review the rating later, but your instincts are hot right now.
  • If you loved (or hated) the book or parts of the book, ask yourself “why?”  Your answer can also be included in the review, and by saying why you liked it, you’ll be further helping other readers decide if they want to buy the book.
  • Ask yourself these questions, to see if there’s anything else you want to add into the review:
    • Favourite character, and why?
    • Favourite moment in the story, and why?
    • What made you want to pick up the story and read it? Did that promise come through in the story? Did you get what you expected? Or was it even better than you expected? Why?
    • If the book is a part of a series, did you come into the series half-way through, and did this leave you floundering? Would it be a good idea to mention in the review that earlier books should be read first? Or can the book be read as a stand-alone?
  • Avoid spoilers! Don’t tell anyone who hasn’t read the book any of the major turning points or surprises in the story.
  • If you simply must outline a story point to explain yourself, then put <spoiler> and <end of spoiler> around the giveaway, so readers can skip over it if they want to.
  • If you have a negative opinion about the story, try hard to phrase your criticism about the story, rather than the author. For example: “This story had several major weaknesses,” as opposed to “This author can’t write for peanuts!” Despite what you may have heard, authors do read their reviews, and they do take the negative ones to heart — sometimes much more than readers realize.  Focusing on why the story disappointed you will help the author in the future (or for future editions of this book).
  • If you know what would have made the story a better read for you, you might want to add that into the review as well.

Let your notes or your review draft sit for a while and cool off. Then come back and read it carefully. Here is where you can clean up your grammar and spelling, and rephrase anything that doesn’t sound right.

If you want to squeal about a book, go right ahead and squeal — rave reviews are great and they sound a lot more authentic than something written with perfect English and formatting. Be true to yourself! 🙂

You can also review your star rating at this point, and analyze if you think it is an accurate reflection of how much you liked the book.

Once that is all done, you’re ready to upload your review!


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PS:  While you’re here, check out some of the other resources on the site, plus all the books in my backlist that you may not have discovered yet!

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