Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Power of Writing Book Reviews

By Kathy Neely @NeelyKneely3628

There are two things I do when choosing a book to read—I read the book blurb and check the reviews. My preferred venues for reading and posting reviews are Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble. If a book has fewer than ten, the sampling is too small to be significant. Statisticians would consider that to be an inadequate sample size resulting in unreliable feedback. The larger the sample, the more dependable the feedback. Therefore, your review is crucial to providing readers with accurate information. 

One of the most powerful tools a writer can gather is positive reviews. Those are like nuggets of gold.

Consider this data. Note—this is not hard research, just my ambling through the internet to obtain information.
  • Length of time an author spends writing a novel – approximately one year. 
  • Length of time a reader takes to complete a novel – approximately 14 hours. 
  • Length of time it takes to write and post a review – approximately 5 minutes.
When I was an elementary principal, I received many gifts from students and parents. While this was fun and appreciated, the absolute best thing a parent could send was a note of appreciation. That always left me with a smile. 

Your positive review is a note of appreciation. I urge you to say thank you to your favored authors by posting one. 

Here are a few tips about writing reviews. 
  • Select your stars. Five stars means you highly recommend this book. Four stars says it’s a good book. Three stars tells me it’s just OK. If we are going to rely on reviews, they need to be accurate. I personally choose to never leave a negative review. If I can’t give a book at least three stars, I won’t review it. That’s my preference, but you may choose differently. Even a negative review can be written with kindness. 
  • Amazon will denote a review as a ‘verified purchase’ if you’ve obtained a copy from them. That’s always a good thing to see. Regardless of where you obtain your copy, speak in a professional tone. Avoid use of the author’s first name only. That sounds like a friend or relative reviewed it. Use the full name or the last name only. (NOTE: Books are the only merchandise where Amazon allows a review if not purchased from them. You can borrow a book from a library or friend and still leave an Amazon review. HOWEVER, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon in the past year for Amazon to allow a review.)
  • Provide a sentence or two about the plot or theme, but don’t disclose the ending or any surprise elements. 
  • Mention the main character by name. Discuss the author’s use of character development. 
  • Include anything notable—humor, suspense, inspiration.
  • End with your reaction to the novel. 
  • Double check your grammar and spelling. If it’s poorly written, readers may disregard it. 
Once again, let me remind you of the time frames noted above. An author will work for approximately one year to provide you with about 14 hours of reading pleasure. Don’t allow a wonderful book to go unnoticed when five minutes of your time could make a difference. Your review is like that note of appreciation. It will leave them with a smile. 

I’d love to hear from you. 


Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading. 

She is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes and The Least of These. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through ALMOST AN AUTHOR. She has numerous devotions published through CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONS

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers. 


  1. Kathy,

    Thank you for this important article about writing book reviews. I have written reviews for many years for print publications and online. I've written over 1,000 Amazon reviews and over 600 reviews on Goodreads. I love books and writing reviews is a way to support and help other writers. You are exactly right that it doesn't take much time but is important.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

  2. Great article, Kathleen. I have many author friends who request reviews and I always say yes. When it's my turn to request reviews for a new release, they are happy to reciprocate. Reviews are important and they help to promote books.

  3. I really like the perspective that a review is a note of appreciation for the author. I often lead book launch teams for author friends. Do you mind if I steal your perspective and share it with the team members to combat the overwhelm some feel about writing a book review? :)

    1. Steal away! I'm hope readers everywhere will know how much we appreciate reviews.

  4. Very good. Yes, we all like to hear a thank you. Donevy

  5. Thank you for this article. I'm sure many readers don't know how important reviews are. Even negative reviews show that the book has been read and sometimes negative reviews add validity to the book, as no book will meet everyone's needs. Great piece!

  6. Absolutely. Reviews are the best way to hear from our Readers. We're always grateful if someone takes the time to share his or her opinion of our work. Thank you.

    1. Appreciate your feedback.

  7. Thanks for the encouragement for writing book reviews! I have a plethora of them waiting for me to complete on NetGalley. I have a habit of reading too many books and not writing my opinions after I've finished the last page. Your tips are helpful and I employ them which makes me happy that I'm doing it right. Your post is what I needed today to prod me forward in catching up. Thank you!

  8. I think we are all guilty of neglecting to post reviews. We need a reminder from time to time. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Thanks for posting this, Kathleen! I certainly appreciate reviews, and I have a few I still need to write. This is a good reminder.

  10. Thank you, Kathleen. I agree with the importance of book reviews. No, I've never published a book, but I've written tons of reviews for a newspaper, Mystery Scene Magazine, a Book Tour I host on my blog, and of course Amazon. I lag a bit on your final time frame. It takes me more than 5 minutes to write a review. But even if it takes 15 minutes, or even 20 to be satisfied with it, it is still SO MUCH LESS TIME than an author takes to write a book. I agree, let's show our appreciation for the hours of enjoyment, encouragement, exhortation, or laughter that books give us.

  11. I try to review the books I purchase and read but as with most, stay woefully behind.
    Great article!
    Good luck and God's blessings