Monday 24 July 2017

How to Write a Review

with Marilyn Forsyth

Image courtesy of Giphy

All writers know the critical importance of reader reviews to the discoverability and potential purchase of our books. The more reviews we get, the better for us 😉.
(Although, having said that, I’m reminded of an author friend of mine who had a review written about her mystery thriller in which the reviewer named the killer! It took her weeks to have the review pulled. What a disaster!)

Anyway, back to the blog…

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Why is it that asking for reviews can be like asking for an arm or a leg? Could it be because readers are simply unsure of how to go about actually writing a review?

If that's the case, here are some suggestions that might help (don't feel you have to use them all!):

1) Before you start writing, imagine that you are describing the book to a friend who has asked your opinion on it. Your friend will want to know not just what the book is about, but why you liked/didn’t like it and, importantly, why.

2) Mention the author in the first few sentences, then give a taste of the plot in general terms (no spoilers, plot twists or endings, please 😉). If it’s part of a series, you can mention it.

3) Say what you liked about the book. Here are some questions to
get you started:
Image courtesy of Pixabay
  • Was the story believable?
  • Did you enjoy the author’s style?
  • Did you find the main characters credible/likable/relatable?
  • Did the author make the setting come to life?
  • Did the book keep you turning the pages?
  • Did you laugh, cry, want to keep reading past the end?

Image courtesy of

4) Anything that didn’t work for you about the book?
  • Characters TSTL (too stupid to live)? 
  • Frustrating ending? (Don’t give it away.)
  • Trope didn’t do it for you? (Be fair. If you don’t like the trope, why read the book?)
  • Story could have done with better editing?

5) Summarise your personal response to the book.
  • Would you recommend it?
  • Who should read it? (Fans of comedy, YA, historical romance, etc)
  • Any authors or series it could be compared to?

Image courtesy of Pixabay

6) Rate the book. (Even if you just give a book a rating, it helps.)

Readers always want to know what other readers think of books. A good review focuses not so much on the plot of the book but on the reviewer’s thoughts and feelings about the story and the author’s ability to tell it. By providing an honest review you can not only unite readers with books they can love, but also help authors to get their books noticed.

Go on! Do it! Write that review!

Image courtesy of Giphy

*Follow the link to find Cassandra Samuels’ excellent post on how to physically get your book review up on a site:

As a reader, what encourages you to leave a review? As an author, have you struggled to get reviews? Any suggestions?

Love to Love getting a new kitchen. This is my thirty-year-old one; I'm going with black and white for the new one. I'll post a pic when it's done.

Love to Laugh at reruns of The Vicar of Dibley. Gotta love Dawn French.
Love to Learn by doing workshops. I recently attended a one-day self-publishing workshop, organized by our writing group, with the fabulous Cathleen Ross. I learned so much! Who knew it was so easy??


  1. Great post, Marilyn. It's funny but I rarely read reviews when choosing physical books. With ebooks, if it's an author I've read before, again I don't read reviews. And yet for unknown authors I read many many reviews now. Got some duds before.

    1. Hi Enisa! I always read reviews, whether I've read the author before or not. I just need to know that a story is going to appeal to me before I buy it. Having said that, I once bought a book with a low rating when the comments of the reviewer clashed with my opinions. :)

  2. Thanks very much for your post, Marilyn. I frequently read reviews before buying books, but I rarely write them. Now with your post as a guide, I can get started.

    1. Hi Sharon! I hope it does help you to write a review of a book you've enjoyed. Authors appreciate it so much!

  3. I love reading book reviews. They're often the clincher when I'm buying a book. So the above advice is terrific, thanks Marilyn. I rate every boook I read on Goodreads, plus comment. To be honest it's mainly for my own purposes, keeping track of my reading. But it's lovely when someone comments and you then enter a conversation about the book. I really enjoy that. I'm a fairly easy reader, a book has to be terrible before I admit that. If I really don't like a book I consider it manners to not carry on and sledge the author, but to indicate it's only my opinion and thousands might disagree. (Which they might.) on the positive side, I love telling people why I love a book. Always so exciting.

    1. I know you are a prolific reader and reviewer, Malvina, and authors really appreciate the thoughtful feedback you give them. Thank you. :)

  4. Reviews are really hard to get as I think some readers are really unsure. Perhaps they don't really get how important they are to authors in order to get their book seen by more readers. I try and do reviews of books I really love and or at least do star ratings.

    1. I'm with you, Cassie, as far as writing reviews myself. I've done them for books I love (like A Scandalous Wager :) ), but more often I give a star rating.

  5. Hi Marilyn

    I read and review and enjoy doing so I am with Malvina about whetger I like a book or not a review is for me a personal thing and I must say the majority of books I read I really enjoy but if I can't express what I feel nicely I won't say anything at all.
    That is fabulous advice on how to write a review

    Have Fun


    1. Hi Helen! Lovely to see you here! You are a major supporter of our Aussie writers and we truly appreciate the effort you put into your reviews. Now, get back to that ever-growing TBR pile and keep those reviews coming. :D


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