Imagine you found an intriguing book online (not much of a stretch, right?) but you’ve never read this author’s work before. Your finger hovers over the “Buy Now” button, but you ultimately scroll down instead until reviews fill your screen.
As you skim, some brim with enthusiastic praise while others are more critical, a mix something like this:
“Deeper and darker than I wanted for a ‘Rock Star Romance’” – Donna
“Addressing complicated issues with finesse, grace, and poise” – Miriam
“slow burning…rather smoldering. Kept me reading and reading!” – Brittany
“Even though I couldn’t connect with Adeline (like, at all), I still respected her and appreciated her struggles and her arc so much!” – Grace
“The author hit all the right notes in this story.” – Suzie
Let’s say you do sometimes like romances that deal with tough issues, but today you’re shopping for a light, heartwarming novel. So, you add the book to your “Want to Read” list on Goodreads and then head back to the retailer and find something that fits your current mood.
The reviews did exactly what they were meant to do: they filled in any gaps in expectations left by the cover and blurb, and helped you make an informed purchasing decision.
If some of these reviewers had hesitated to share their thoughts because there were other reviews posted or their opinion happened to be in the minority, the snapshot of what readers really think would be limited and less helpful. So, don’t hesitate to lend your voice to the discussion by leaving a review. You help other readers each time you do!
This goes double when you’ve read a new release. Since it takes a while to build up a good pool of reviews, without the first few readers leaving their thoughts, how will the next on-the-fence shopper know whether to read or to keep looking?
If you’re stuck on what to write, here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Be honest. Don’t worry about the author reading the review and taking offense. Some authors find reading reviews helpful. Some of us don’t, so we decide to encourage them for readers’ sake while not reading them ourselves.
- Be tactful. Remember you’re reviewing the story, not the author. Even the less enthusiastic review excerpts I quoted are focused on the readers’ experience with the genre, the characters, and the writing, without making remarks about the author. The comments fairly express what other readers should expect, and that’s perfect!
- Be brief—or be long! Maybe you really enjoyed a book and sigh wistfully every time you think of it, but you can’t think of what to write in the review. Just write that—”I enjoyed this and sigh wistfully every time I think of it.” Or, perhaps a book resonated deeply with you and you can expound on a dozen reasons you think others out to read it. Go ahead and write your list.
- Avoid spoilers. You don’t need to include a plot summary, which can easily spoil plot points. However, content or trigger warnings can be helpful, and if you feel led to include a list of those, go for it. If anything you write might be a spoiler, warn the reader by putting “SPOILER” somewhere before the info.
- Say what you liked and didn’t like. Consider areas like the characters, setting, plot, pacing (were you bored at any point, or did it pull you right along?), chemistry in the romance, and themes that resonated with you.
- Mention any particularly strong response you had to the story. This one’s optional, but if an element of the story kept you thinking after the final page, why not mention it? Or was there a character you loved to hate? Perhaps the book inspired tears or laughter? Any of these show that the story drew you in and will help other readers understand whether it might do the same for them.
- Suggest the kind of reader who might enjoy a story. This is also optional, but it can be a quick way to help others understand the feel of the story. Try this format: If you liked *insert TV show, book, genre, or movie,* you might like this book!
If you’re familiar with my current series (or clicked the links), you’ve probably guessed the sample reviews are about To Bring You Back, the first of the Rhythms of Redemption Romances.
I try to set the right expectations with my blurb, but I love how these reviews—even the ones that aren’t quite glowing—set the right reader expectations. What a service to other readers!
Would you like to help other readers make decisions about my next book? I’m setting up my advance reader and launch teams for my July release, To Begin Again. As I mentioned, those first few reviews can be especially important!
If you’re selected for the team, you’ll receive an early copy and I’ll ask that you leave reviews on retail and other bookish sites like Goodreads and Bookbub. If that sounds fun, learn more about the book and apply here. But act quickly! Sign ups close 5/27/22.
In case you’d like more info about book reviews and launch teams, I’ve rounded up some other Inspy Romance posts that touch on the subjects:
What is the last book reviewed? Do you have tips for what to write in a review?