You’ve heard it, but have you acted on it? Support authors via reviews, a how-to

If you’re a reader, and not just the kind of person who occasionally picks up a book but the person who always has a book nearby, you’ve heard this: reviews help authors. It’s why authors recruit advance readers, pay literary publications like Publishers Weekly, and why services like NetGalley* exist.

And if you’re just a lighthearted reader who grabs a book for vacation or when something really stands out, you can still leave reviews on whatever platform is easiest for you. Remember– reviews help readers decide what to read, build traction for authors in various algorithms and even qualify authors for marketing opportunities.

The most familiar: Amazon

If you bought a book on Amazon, it will often prompt you to leave a review or a rating. Please do it. And if you didn’t, it will usually let you leave a review anyway. This is the official link from Amazon help explaining how to leave a review. If you do not have an Amazon account, it will require that you make one, but you will not be allowed to leave reviews until you have made a token amount of purchases from Amazon. So, if you have never-ever purchased anything from Amazon, I salute you, but you will have to try another of the ways to leave a review.

The basic steps to leave an Amazon review:

  1. Find the book on Amazon.
  2. Scroll down the page, (it may take a while) until you see the rating bars on the left listing the star averages of previous ratings.
  3. Scroll more until you reach “Review this product” in bold and the button beneath that says “write a customer review.”
  4. Click the button.
  5. The next screen requires that you pick a star rating, title your review, and fill in the box with whatever you have to say. They also give you a space to upload photos or videos.
  6. When you are done, you scroll to the submit button, hit it and you should see a thank you message with green lettering, unless something went wrong.

Note on Amazon reviews: Amazon reviews are written by everyday people, not necessarily super readers or college professors or people who studied liberal arts in college. Therefore, Amazon reviews tend to be inflated or scathing, i.e. five stars or one star. Consider your audience when leaving a score. For instance, a book that might receive four stars from a critical reader on Goodreads probably deserves five on Amazon.

For the Amazon-adverse: Google Books

If you have a Google account (and if you use Google Docs, Google drive, or Gmail, you do) you should be able to follow these steps with ease. Depending on your technology, there is a new and an old Google Books page. According to our beta testers, these directions pertain to the older version.

  1. Google the name and the author of the book. On a computer, you should be able to see a result that lists the name of the author and the title as a heading on the top of the screen, reviews to the left and an “about” column to the left.
  2. There should be a question, “Did you like this book?,” in the “about” column with a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Select one.
  3. Then click “Google Books” as it appears in blue at the end of the book blurb.
  4. On the Google Books page for the book, about half way down the page, it should read, “What people are saying–write a review.” Click write a review.
  5. There is a tiny drop down menu for star rating. Click one.
  6. Fill your review into the big box and hit submit.

For the serious, social reader: Goodreads

Goodreads is a must for any writer. It’s the social media platform for readers, owned by Amazon. Whereas people who are connected to authors via Facebook may find their reviews flagged by Amazon, Amazon encourages readers to post reviews of their “friends” books on Goodreads.

I suppose the logic is that the professional integrity of Amazon requires unbiased reviews, and if you know the person on Facebook, you lack objectivity. The concept of Goodreads is specifically to use what you know about your friends to weight their recommendations. And since Amazon now owns Goodreads, Amazon sometimes connects Goodreads reviews to Amazon listings.

Many authors disapprove of this as the rating system on Goodreads is tougher than Amazon. I once heard that on Goodreads, three stars is a perfectly good book, four is a great book, and five is a book that should be taught in high schools and colleges around the world.

You will have to create a Goodreads account, but it’s a great way to connect with friends, authors and the latest books. It will also make recommendations and allow you to track your books. You can set reading goals and review your booklist, tracking books you want to read.

Reviews are super easy. When you finish reading a book, it prompts you to select a star rating and farther down the same screen it will ask if you want to leave a review.

To leave a review for a book you have not placed in your Goodreads list yet:

  1. Type the title and/or author in the search bar.
  2. Hopefully, the book appears somewhere in the list that pops up.
  3. Select the correct book.
  4. Change the green “want to read” button to “read.” Hit done.
  5. The next screen will give you the opportunity to click on your star rating.
  6. Below the star reading is a button, “write a review.” Select the button and write your review.

For the reader/writer-author (and the super voracious reader): NetGalley

*If you are a voracious reader or a writer, you should look into NetGalley as a reader. Publishers, small and large, pay NetGalley to promote upcoming releases to their readers. The readers can request electronic copies of the book for free and if approved, the reader reads the book and leaves a review on NetGalley and/or personal social media. Once the book releases, the book reviews are posted to the usual places. NetGalley monitors readers to make sure they leave the review as promised, and if readers don’t fulfill the commitment, reader scores go down and publishers won’t approve the requests.

By why, you may ask, is NetGalley important for writers transitioning into authors? NetGalley is an easy way to stay up to date on what books are coming out in your genre, especially if you publish with a small press or pursue self-publishing. Large publishers take a long time getting books out, and some of their books may be available for advanced review on NetGalley with a release date similar to yours.

NetGalley also allows you the opportunity to see trends in cover art, book design and what the big publishers are doing.

Plus, an ebook on the NetGalley app is a great way to keep oneself entertained on bus rides and in doctors’ office lobbies.

Published by Angel Ackerman

Writer, Editor, Traveler, Fashionista, Francophile, Student and Mother Publisher at Parisian Phoenix ( Author of the Fashion and Fiends series

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