How to Write a Book Review . . . on Amazon, or Other Venues
by Beth Kozan
So, you agreed to write a review, didn’t you, perhaps in exchange for a free copy of a book your friend or an acquaintance has written? Or you’ve read a book that you would like to attach your two cents’ worth to. Now it’s time to Put Up or Shut Up.
To get ready, I recommend that you first look at a few book reviews on the venue where you’ll be posting your review. Become familiar with what others have already said about a book you’ve read. If you’ll be writing for Amazon, check out the reviews of a few books you’ve read and liked. And maybe a few books that you’ve not liked so well.
Scroll down past all the adverts and find the listings for starred ratings; then go beyond that and read a few reviews. You’ll find lengthy ones; you’ll find short ones. You may find erudite missives, as well as wanderings that are almost nonsensical. What do you like about the review? You’ll see a box: Did this review help you in making your purchase? You’re not reading to help decide whether to buy the book; you’re reading to help yourself write reviews. But does the review help you decide if you’d like to read it?
Now, to write your review: What is your honest opinion of the book you’ve read? Write a draft on a piece of paper or use a fresh Word doc. Be clear in your writing. Did you like the book? What did you like about it? Did you learn something from reading the book?
I have to admit: I have never written a review of an ebook that I’ve read – because Kindle wants me to tell them RIGHT NOW, as soon as I finish it what I thought about the ebook! Sometimes I don’t know what I think about the book because I’ve managed to stay awake just long enough to finish it. I think I’ll return, but I still have yet to do so. Writing about a book requires a different mindset than reading a book.
Before you publish your review, if you know the author, you might run it past them. They might clarify something if you missed the point. You’re not beholden to follow their advice, but you might want to have them read your review before you publish it.
I learned a lesson from writing reviews. People are very sensitive about their babies (i.e. their books), and if you say something that hits their insecurities, they’re likely to be upset. Once I wrote a review about a book that could be very powerful in the field for which it was written, but it was poorly edited. I dared to say that. The author went on a witch hunt and researched me, made assumptions about the motivation for what I’d said, and attacked me!
If you are worried about making someone mad at you, I’ll leave you with the quote attributed to Winston Churchill: “You have enemies? Good! It means you stood up for something in your life!”
Beth Kozan is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Helping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.