Our Guest is: Michael Bailey!
There is something about the clean prose of journalists that transfers to their writing in other genres. Michael Bailey, for example. How can a writer create a human-
HOW TO LEAVE A REVIEW
By Michael Bailey
(Reprinted by permission of the author/copyright holder, c2015)
Reader reviews are a critical (ha, see what I did there) element of an independent author’s formula for success. As positive reviews pile up, they act as a bit of friendly, low-
The problem with getting reviews is that few people want to give them. They might absolutely love a book, but they won’t take that extra little step to leave a good review for it, and from what I’ve heard from some of my readers, the most common reason for this is, "I don’t know how to write a review."
I understand the problem, but man is it frustrating to know that more than 6,000 copies of my books have been purchased and yet I have a grand total of 130 reviews.
I repeat: Out of approximately 6,000 readers, 130 have left reviews. That’s a 2.16 percent rate of return.
In the hopes of getting some people motivated, I present here a brief tutorial for how to leave a review on Amazon—although this process is easily transferable to writing reviews for other things on other web-
First: Leave a rating. This is the easy part. Amazon uses a star-
Second: Open with a simple statement reflecting your rating. This is also fairly easy. Write a sentence, just one sentence, that reflects your rating and encapsulates your feelings toward the book. "I had so much fun reading this book!" "I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it highly." "This was a fun, engaging story." (Or, if your rating isn’t terribly favorable, "This book was decent, but disappointing." "What a waste of my time." Et cetera.)
If you’re not feeling terribly ambitious, you can call it quits here. Really, it’s okay. A rating and a sentence is enough, but if you want to leave a little more…
Third: Pick something about the book you loved/hated, say what that something was, and why. You do NOT have to write some grand epic poem about the book you’re reviewing. Seriously. Get that thought out of your head right now because that may be why you find the idea of leaving a review so intimidating. Instead of trying to hit multiple points of interest, pick one thing about the book you loved (or hated)—the plot, the dialog, the prose, the characters, whatever—say what that one thing is, and say why it made such an impression. That’s enough to give potential readers a sense of what to expect, and since different reviewers will extol different virtues, Amazon customers will get a nice, well-
Guess what? You’re done. You just wrote a review.
Now, you may have noticed I worded my advice to cover bad reviews as well as good. If you’re considering leaving a bad review for someone’s book, here’s a fourth point to ponder:
Fourth: Ask yourself if you really need to leave a negative review. I’m not saying you should never leave bad reviews. Some books warrant them. What I’m saying is that you should take an extra minute and ask yourself why you want to leave a bad review—and please be aware that "I didn’t like the book" is not a good answer.
A teacher of mine from many years ago, Benito Ruiz, gave me perhaps the best advice I’ve ever received about giving constructive criticism. He told me that I had to learn how to distinguish my PERSONAL, SUBJECTIVE FEELINGS toward a work of art from my OBJECTIVE CRITICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE WORK’S TECHNICAL COMPETENCE. When I say something is "good" or "bad," am I making a call on its substantive qualities or am I really saying "I like this" or "I don’t like this"?
That’s what I mean when I say think before leaving a negative review, and ask yourself why you think a book is "bad." Is the plot dull, predictable, and/or nonsensical or riddled with holes? Are the characters flat and boring or a bunch of stereotypes? Is the dialog unrealistic? Is the book itself rife with misspellings, bad grammar, incorrect punctuation, etc.? These are signs of a book that is actually bad. A well-
And you know what? There’s nothing wrong at all with leaving a three-
One final piece of advice, and this is for authors in the event you receive a bad review: DO NOT RESPOND TO IT. Nothing will make you look more unprofessional, petty, and insecure than trying to justify your work, criticizing the critic, or asking the reviewer to take down or change the review to salve your bruised ego.
Besides, if you can’t deal with criticism, you probably shouldn’t be a writer.