If you dread seeing pleas for online reviews from your author-friends, you are not alone. Me? I get performance anxiety. Composing a Real Book Review is hard mental work and time consuming.*
Ordering lunch is easy. So I came up with a system. Think of your review as a deli meal. Yes, folks, it’s time for “Build Your Own Book Review!”
Sandwich. Sides. Drink. Make a few choices, and it writes itself.
Bread: all reviews come with stars. Choose 1-5. Don’t worry about hurting feelings. Seriously. The raw number of reviews carries far more weight with the Almighty Search Algorithms than whether they’re positive or negative. That said, 5 stars is the white bread of the review world. Just saying.
Fillings. Pick one or more from as many categories as you want.
This book is
- ______ well worth reading
- ______ suspenseful & fun
- ______ a real thriller
- ______ warm & inspiring
- ______ entertaining
- ______ on my best-of list
- ______ fun but nothing special
- ______ totally skippable
- ______ A bore from beginning to end
- ______ was twisty and full of surprises
- ______ kept me turning pages
- ______ made me think
- ______ was brilliant
- ______ didn’t really move me
- ______ confused me in places
- ______ started well but got boring
- ______ goes nowhere fast
The world-building/main idea
- ______ blew my mind
- ______ was amazing and original
- ______ was well thought-out
- ______ felt tired and predictable
- ______ were flawed and human
- ______ were relatable
- ______ felt real
- ______ really got to me
- ______ acted like real heroes
- ______ never stopped complaining
- ______ were full of themselves
- ______ seemed like tired stereotypes
- ______ sounded real
- ______ had lots of good jokes
- ______ moved the story along
- ______ was stilted and fake
- ______ sounded like speeches
- ______ used too many big words
Side orders: not required, but extras add a little pizazz to your review
- My favorite character/moment/scene ____________________
- The best thing about the book was ____________________
- I really liked____________________
Drink. A little statement to pull the whole review together.
- Give this book a try, you won’t be disappointed.
- Recommended for/as/to________________________
- This is a must-read
- If you like ______________ then you should check this out
- Skip this one if you value your brain cells.
- Only recommend it to your enemies.
Take a look at these popular combos:
House Special: 5 stars! This book is on my best-of the year list. The plot was twisty, the world-building blew my mind, and the characters really got to me. My favorite scene involved a teddy bear and a glue stick, and that’s all I’m saying. If you like funny books full of crazy jokes, snappy dialogue and cute animals, take a look.
The Snark: 2 stars. Skip this book. The world-building is mind-blowing, but the characters spend the whole book complaining and the plot goes nowhere fast. Recommended as an insomnia cure.
Short, Sweet & Simple: 4 stars. I liked this book. The plot kept me turning pages, and the characters felt real. Give it a try.
Now, if you you feel like this is cheating somehow because it’s easy, YOU ARE SO WRONG. Trust me on this. I recommended books for a living for nearly two decades. Sales reviews are about bearing witness. Standing up to be counted. Very few readers go to Amazon or B&N looking for a deeply-pondered journal-style literary critique. They want to know, “Did someone else like this book? Y/N and why.”
Be kind to yourself. Give your favorite authors a huge boost. Go deli style. And if you want to practice, I have a bunch of book listings pining away for reviews right here behind this link: author.to/kmherkes.
*No, really. Reviews are hard. That’s the reason Goodreads lets all members assign star ratings without writing words at all. (My books are listed there, too. Hint. Hint.)