I know what you’re thinking. You would absolutely love to write more Amazon book reviews, but what to say?
Today, I will come to your rescue, for I too have had similar struggles. I have studied people for a long time. I’ve also worked with some fine designers who like to make things more functional for us mere mortals. They advise me to keep it simple and make it easy. By taking advantage of the ease and simplicity of the process, we will be able to fly through our next book review.
Start With a Multiple Choice Question
Multiple choice questions are far easier to answer than open ended ones. Seriously, I organize my life around multiple choice questions: Shall I wear a dress or pants? Lunch on fish, chicken or beef? How shall we do it tonight, missionary, doggy style, or full-tantric Yab Yum? (See Sock Monkey Kama Sutra for Yab Yum and so much more.)
Well, you’re in luck. The Amazon review process starts with: how many stars do you want to assign to the book you are reviewing? One to five. Simple. Easy. You need not do much more than that since:
Details are Optional
Some people care for the details. The rest of us are normal. It’s not that we don’t care, really. Perhaps we just don’t have the time for details, or we don’t want to take up your time in getting them. And that’s OK. How often have you bumped into a friend and exchanged pleasantries in lieu of deep and meaningful conversation?
Me – Oh it’s been forever. How are you?
You – I’m fine. How are you?
Notice my embellishment with the line: “It’s been forever.” You can’t get away with much more than that for the casual meet and greet. Now let’s apply this to your Amazon book review. I know I liked the book, but I don’t have time for details. My solution (remembering that details are optional) is to give the standard answer with that touch of embellishment.
This book took forever to read, but it was fine.
Automation Is Your Friend
What have we learned from years of casual meet and greet “conversations”? Answer: The standard “I’m fine” is a great reply. It conveys something, without the drudgery of details, and it’s so simple, it’s practically a reflex to say it. Similarly, we can apply automation to our book reviews. Here are my standard reviews. They require only minimal tweaking (if I don’t want to confuse the author):
I loved it.
I liked it but I didn’t LOVE it.
I like dogs. This book featured a cat. Disappointed.
I got off only four times. I wanted to get off five times! Here’s one star to remind you of the one you owe me.
The Irony of Bad Reviews
Authors thrive on reviews, even bad ones. Like children who misbehave, some of us will gladly settle for negative attention—anything to avoid the crickets. The surprising perk of giving a bad review is that the details (which, you may recall, are optional) scream for attention all on their own. Why is that?
Perhaps the things we don’t like are, sadly, more noticeable to us. Or perhaps, we are more aware of what doesn’t meet our expectations. Generally, I expect to like a book I buy, otherwise, I wouldn’t buy it. When it doesn’t deliver on my expectation, I might get a bit put off, and I might think the author has some cheek taking my time and money for this! Seriously, who does she think she is? And suddenly, all the details I didn’t like about the book are pouring out of me, and I write a scathing review full of all those previously optional details because I notice them. I don’t have to think about what to say. And there’s the added perk that the author might learn something from my negative review, with all those lovely details.
Dislike is like that. It’s present and available and the words just bounce off your fingertips, through the keyboard and onto the screen. Use it to your advantage in your efforts to write the super fast Amazon book review. The author will five-star your one-star review. Trust me.
But I Want to Write a Good Review (And we love you for it!)
Identifying the details for a good review can be just as easy. Try answering a few key questions:
- Did the opening hook you in right away or was it slow to start?
- Were the characters believable?
- How did the story make you feel: bored, sad, excited, happy? Did it give you the willies? Did it make you laugh?
- Did it meet your expectations?
- Was it well researched? (This can apply to both fiction and non-fiction)
- Did you get your money’s worth?
Speaking of non-fiction, one of my irritations with seemingly authoritative works is that too many authors spend precious pages and my time selling me the book I already bought or telling me what they intend to show in chapter (pick a number). Really, just get on with it. I’ll keep up. I’d rather pay more for a 30-page book that gets to the point with valid and useful information than spend half the amount for 100-page book full of padding. I don’t want to pay for words. I already own a dictionary. What I want are ideas!
Now that you have answers to your sample questions (above), here is what your review of, say, that George Clooney biography might look like:
It was a slow read at first. George just wasn’t that interesting as a baby, but he and his family seem like real people, genuine and loving. The story about his little red wagon made me cry. I hope he found that forth wheel. Spoiler alert: he did. Clearly, the biographer conducted hours of interviews and reviewed a lot of materials, because the book was full of juicy details. George’s swimsuit photos in the appendix were a nice surprise. That alone was worth the price of the book. Amal is a lucky woman.
- Use multiple choice to your advantage.
- Don’t sweat the details.
- Create your own list of automated reviews to use in a pinch.
- Let the negative words flow if you want to help the author do better next time.
- Answer a few key questions to share what you liked.