The woman in your choir read your debut and identified with the main character’s challenges. Your child’s homeroom teacher raved about your ending, said it made her cry. Your aunt brags to all her friends about her talented niece, the novelist. Problem is, not one of them has ever written a review and posted it on Amazon. And they’ve never heard of GoodReads, much less the term bookstagrammer. These people aren’t writers. And because of that, they don’t realize how crucial book reviews are, particularly for authors without huge stacks of money to spend on publicity and marketing campaigns. They all want to help you succeed, but they don’t know how.

Make it easy for them to post a review by giving them simple guidelines

Next time they mention your book, smile sweetly and hand them a small card with the verbiage below. Explain how you’d love to have them share their thoughts with others. Make sure they know they are under no pressure to do so and can even post anonymously if they want. Explain how one way Amazon and other book sites judge new releases is based on the quantity and rankings from reviews (most of them have no idea how important this is). Tell them they don’t need to write a lot unless they want to — 200-400 words is plenty to give a potential reader an idea of the book.

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Thank you for offering to post a review of my book. Once you’re done, please post your thoughts at www.amazon.com and www.goodreads.com. You have no idea how valuable such reviews are. Thank you SO much!

  • Write 1-2 sentences summarizing the book. Touch on the basic plot or events in the book, including the main characters and the central challenge they face. For example: “X is an intriguing, thought-provoking, and richly written medical drama that explores the relationship between two medical doctors with themes of friendship, betrayal and the act of forgiveness” or even shorter: “Spoiled heiress falls for a rough-hewn cowboy and gets more than she bargained for.” It’s best not to reveal details about what happens beyond the midpoint to avoid “spoilers”. Enough to intrigue but not enough to ruin the ending is a good rule of thumb. Both these sites already have a fairly a substantial synopsis posted so there’s really no need to recreate this unless you want to.
  • Write 3-4 sentences about your reaction to the book: Don’t be afraid to be real. People want to know how you personally reacted to the story. You can use examples or quotes from the book to illustrate your points. Did you relate to the main characters’ challenges or find yourself frustrated by their lack of agency? Did the character’s behavior strike you as true to life? For example, “There is nothing cliche about this Rom Com. So very authentic, it takes you deeply into the lives of the characters as they gradually discover there is, in fact, life after their dreams fall short.” What were the central themes of the book? What was your favorite and least favorite part? Was the ending satisfying? Did certain passages particularly move you? For example, “It’s about preconceived ideas about people, about our views of things that happened versus what really happened, about how we are all human and make mistakes.”
  • Write 1-2 sentences with your recommendation: Who do you think would enjoy this book? What age range do you think the book would appeal to? Would it be ideal for book clubs? College students? Parents of young children? Women going through a mid-life transition? How does this compare with other books you’ve read by this same author or other books in this same vein that you’ve enjoyed? For example, “Fans of Jodi Picoult and Lianne Moriarty’s books will love this one, too.” Both these sites ask you to rank the book from 1-5 stars, 5 stars being the highest. Obviously, the more you liked the book, the higher ranking you would choose.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to post a review. And to follow my journey as a writer, I’d love to add you to my mailing list to receive my quarterly newsletter and occasional giveaways or bargain offers. You can sign up at ____________(your website).

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Sign it and if you can afford it, reproduce the cover of your book.

That’s it.  Short. Simple. Succinct.

We’re always asking our fellow writers for reviews. But don’t neglect your chiropractor, your old college roommate, and that librarian who always gives you great book suggestions. They are a treasure trove of potential reviewers just waiting to be asked.

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