For writers, especially during lock-down when bookshop signings and talks at the local library are impossible, getting on-line reviews are one of the few ways to promote a new novel. And if they are lucky enough to acquire 50 positive reviews, Amazon will feature them in periodic promotional posts, for free.
Yet how many of us write them? I must confess to producing a mere handful myself, though I am striving to do better.
People assume they will be required to produce an erudite outline of the plot, a thoughtful character analysis and include quotes of good (or bad) prose. All the while avoiding those dreaded spoilers. No wonder it seems daunting.
Yet Amazon and Goodreads make the process relatively easy. You simply decide whether the novel you have just read is any good, then give it a star rating out of five. You could stop there, if you wanted. You could also choose to withhold your full name, if feeling shy, by calling yourself something like Bedfordshire Bookworm.
A sentence or two about whether you enjoyed a book would help others decide whether or not to invest in a copy and would at the same time delight the author. Something like the following would be perfect:
**** “A page-turner. Thoroughly recommended.”
*** “Really enjoyed travelling to a different time and place. Perfect for lovers of historical fiction.”
**** “Had me on the edge of my seat at times.”
***** “Loved it!”
Obviously, if you really loathed it, the author would prefer you to refrain from comment. But most authors welcome constructive criticism. That is the way to learn to write better.
If you love nothing better than escaping into a book, why not spend a few minutes supporting those who feed your addiction? It costs nothing but a few minutes of your time, and will have an author somewhere purring with pleasure…
[The above are actual quotes from reviews]