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Reader Reviews

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on January 3, 2013

When you finish reading a book, do you write a brief review and post it online? If your answer is negative, why not? Do you feel you have nothing to say? Are you afraid your opinion won’t count? Is it too much bother?  Bookshelf

Reader reviews count a great deal to potential book buyers. When you’re thinking of ordering a book, do you go to the virtual bookstore and read customer reviews? I know I do. It’s possible that the more customer reviews on an Amazon page, the more chances of Amazon’s algorithms picking up the title and including it in their promotion, “If you like this book, you might like…” This recommendation is of tremendous help to authors. So are five star reviews. But be honest in your opinion and assign however many stars you feel is appropriate. Just please don’t trash someone’s work. If you don’t like the book, leave off your opinion. Nothing hurts worse than seeing someone give my book one star and condemning it. Maybe it just wasn’t their cup of tea and another reader will love it.

So how do you write a review? Start out with a blurb about the story. Pretend you are summarizing the tale for a friend, but omit any critical plot points that may act as spoilers. Then mention what you liked about the book. The exquisite setting details? The engaging characters? The non-stop action, or the quirky sidekick? Surely you can find something good to say. End your review if you can with a quotable line encapsulating your opinion. This may range from “A charming historical mystery that will sweep you away to the Victorian era” to “Starships, space battles, and snarky sidekicks…what’s not to like about this action-packed sci-fi adventure?”

Since the New Year is upon us, hereby resolve to start writing reader reviews and posting them online to support your favorite authors. Where to put them? Here are several sites where your opinion matters.

Amazon
http://www.amazon.com

Go to the book’s page. Scroll down to where is says Most Helpful Customer Reviews. Scroll down some more until it says Write a Customer Review. Then click there and follow the directions. You’ll need to be signed into your account. Preview and Publish your review as the final steps.

If you want to see my reviews as an example, go here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A3UDQEWI9GCQ5Z

And if you’ve read any of my books, even backlist titles, I can use more reviews! Go here to access a list of all my titles: http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-J.-Cohen/e/B001HD1ELI/

Barnes and Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com

Barnes and Noble is often overlooked, but with so many NOOK owners, this online bookstore still carries weight. On a book’s page, scroll down to where it says Customer Reviews. Then fill in your star rating and write your review in the box provided. Click Submit to finish. Again, you’ll probably need to be signed into your account first.

Here’s my author site on B&N. This online bookstore isn’t as author friendly as Amazon so it’s harder for us to make changes, like eliminating books under my name that don’t belong there. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/nancy-j.-cohen

Goodreads
http://www.goodreads.com

Goodreads is a popular reader site where readers review books they’ve read, file these reviews on virtual bookshelves and create genre lists. Readers participate in group discussions, offering each other recommendations. A good review here really helps, and so does a recommendation in any of the groups! You can also look for book giveaways under Explore to get a taste of new releases. It’s easy to register for a free account. Then you just go to My Books, click on Add Books, and type in the book title. The book should pop up. Click on it and give it a star rating. Then click on Edit my Review and write in your review, or cut and paste it from your home computer. Be my friend at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/91508.Nancy_J_Cohen

Library Thing
http://www.librarything.com

Here’s another site for you to post reviews and keep track of your reads. I need to update my bookshelf here. Librarians frequent this site. Find me on Library Thing: http://www.librarything.com/home/NancyJCohen. And, it’s another place for authors to offer giveaways of upcoming new releases.

Shelfari
http://www.shelfari.com/

This site is linked to Amazon, so any book details you add in here may show up there. I need to update my reviews here, too: http://www.shelfari.com/nancyjcohen.

Admittedly, it’s hard to keep up with each place. Once I get caught up, though, I can just copy and paste my book review to each site once I finish reading a title.

Your opinion as a reader truly counts now more than ever, with professional reviews almost impossible for authors to get on their own, reviewers swamped with hundreds of titles, and the days of bookstore browsing severely diminished. Word of mouth is critical, and this is where you come in. Offering positive reviews and recommendations online of books you’ve read is one of the best forms of support you can do for authors. Consider yourselves our street team, and get involved.

Are you already doing online reviews, and if so, where?

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28 Responses to “Reader Reviews”

  1. I do review books, but recently I read that amazon was “removing” reviews from authors. Oh no! I hope not. I enjoy keeping up with the latest mysteries and writing reviews. Not sure why amazon has a problem with that.

  2. A very good discussion, Nancy. I’ve reviewed every book other writers have sent to me unless I really hated them. However, I tend to have a rather positive response and see something good about most of what I read. I hope Amazon doesn’t remove author reviews, but I read the same thing.

  3. Lisa M said

    I post reviews on GoodReads typically because that’s where I do my reading challenge. Once in a while, if I truly loved a book, I’ll post one at amazon. However, I am not sure if what I write becomes the property of that website. So, rather than cut and paste, I change it up a bit via synonyms and sentence structure. If I were ever to find out for sure that it was okay to paste the same review at the various places, I’d be more apt to do so because that would save me a lot of time and effort. It’s just hard to make out all the legal mumbo jumbo in the terms of service. I do try to “like” books on amazon if I don’t review them there. Seems to me I had some trouble posting reviews to Barnes and Noble. I’m pretty honest in my reviews but never ugly, I hope. I’ve found the older I get, the less tolerant I am of poor writing.

  4. Thanks for this list, Nancy! Very helpful! I don’t do too many reviews myself because I’m a picky reader and it takes a lot for me to want to give a book four or five stars, and yet I don’t want to hurt the author’s chances of reaching readers who may like the book.

    • I think it’s smart to withhold your comments if you’re less than enthusiastic about a story. There’s probably a reader who would value the book more and give it a better rating. Although, “they” say that bad reviews help provide balance. I don’t believe it myself.

      • I disagree. As both an author and a reader, I always look at the one and two and three star reviews just to see if there is some consistency in what people didn’t like. As an author, if several people point out the same problem, then that’s something I can use to improve my next book. As a reader, if a lot of the low ratings say a book is “slow” that could sway me from reading the book. But if the low ratings are because the reader didn’t think the characters were “nice” or “likeable”, well, that would probably make me WANT to read the book because I love dark, complex characters. As a reviewer, I’m always honest but fair. I post a number of three star reviews for books that I finished but found lacking. If a book is simply dreadful, I just stop reading, thus I can’t post a review. Of course, mean-spirited, personal attacks are never justified. I like to believe that readers are smart enough to spot those. If every book has nothing but four and five star reviews, then we’re all living in Lake Woebegone, where all children (and books) are above average. Reviews become worthless for both writers and readers if all reviews are glowing.

        • S. W., I agree with you, for the reasons you state in the last two lines of your comments. And I think if I were only a reader (and not a writer, also), I wouldn’t hold back so much with my reviews. But I just can’t bring myself to give low reviews to my fellow authors, because although many authors would be reasonable about them as you are, I think many might not be, and it’s not worth it to me to burn those bridges. I admire your courage in that respect!

          • Exactly, Julie, I feel the same way about fellow authors. If I can’t give a good review, I don’t give one at all. But S.W. , it’s good that you will give an honest opinion. Those are important in weighing whether a book is worth spending money on or not.

          • Well, I don’t shred people I know personally! But I read across many genres, and I think it’s highly unlikely that some literary big-wig would notice my review and come after me for it :).

      • B Y Rogers said

        I think SW is spot on. As an author, I crave reviews, good and bad. But I want the reviews to be detailed. Tell me why you like or hate my writing. That tells me what I need to change, if anything. One problem that I do note. When I read another authors writing, I struggle because sometimes I would write what they wrote different. This affects my reviews and I have to be careful in my review. Hence, I wonder about the reviews I receive (which are not many so far) from other authors.

        • I don’t know, BY, I review a book as a reader. Although, as an author, I can see mistakes especially if it’s a newbie writer. Like too much backstory, or lack of emotional reactions with too much focus on plot. But I can usually comment on some other aspect of the work that I admire. So I won’t say in the review what I truly feel, or it would hurt the author. I can’t criticize someone’s work that way unless they ask privately for my opinion.

  5. Beth said

    I have not been able to post a review since th middle of October but when I do I put them on Amazon and on my blog, http://www.murderbytype.wordpress.com. As someone already noted, I think it is wrong to cost an author a reader so all my reviews are positive.

  6. You’re right, S.W., the literary bigwigs probably don’t even read their reviews. Doesn’t count as much to them as to us smaller fries. When my book has only 10 reviews, each one matters.

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