Of Book Sales
Amazon’s online review portal provides a great benefit for anyone looking to buy books but only because people say what they think.
And anyone can write a review. Anyone! The only qualifications are you bought – or borrowed – the book and read it.
But as with anything in life, there are Do’s and Don’ts that every reviewer should keep in mind, especially when it comes to books. Several are listed below.
These guidelines apply mostly to non-fiction but can be modified for fiction.
Get An Amazon Account
You don’t have to buy the book from Amazon but you will need an account to review it on Amazon.
Getting one is easy. Search for the book’s product page. Once there, scroll down the page to Customer Reviews and click Write A Customer Review.
You’ll be asked to log in or open an account. Make the appropriate selection and follow the on screen instructions.
Do Write Something
Or don’t be shy.
Two things stop people from doing reviews. One, time. The assumption is, a thoughtful review takes time and most don’t have much to spare. But, if you’ve read the book you’ve already done most of the work.
Start by sharing impressions. Say why you thought the book was interesting or mention something you thought was missing. If the book was thoughtfully written, say it.
If you remember only one interesting thought, let others know. You can do an in depth review later.
Get a FREE Kindle Reading App for any device (PC, Mac, Smartphones, Tablets) at Amazon.com
The second thing holding back reviews is people are shy. It can be scary to make your thoughts known to the public but be brave. Share your observations.
The reasons you’re writing the review, your intent, is important. A review is not a weapon. If you feel the book didn’t live up to the marketing blurb, say that but don’t allow your displeasure to be the only thing people take away.
It’s easy to write and read emotion: disgust, disappointment, anger, frustration, but it rarely does anything other than entertain or infuriate, depending on whether the person reading your review agrees with you or not.
Once you’ve shared your disappointment, tell us exactly what disappointed you, which brings us to the next Do point.
If the topic is one you feel strongly about the temptation will be to slur the author and the book with sarcasm. Don’t do it. You’ll disappoint readers on your side and alienate everyone else.
Do the necessary work to prove your point intelligently.
Not only must you read the book, you must also highlight or annotate important sections of the book. Otherwise you can’t prove the author was rational or illogical. If you think the author was unclear, quote any confusing remarks he made.
You can’t prove contradiction without quoting the conflicting statements.
If you don’t quote the author, you may be guilty of putting words in his mouth. Not fair to him or the person reading your review.
Fortunately, Kindle devices and apps help. They allow you to highlight and annotate important sections without putting the book down and then search for those highlights later. If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. It’s great!
Author is a synonym for a live, warm bodied, hard working (in most cases) person, and there is only one to a book, usually. Books aren’t written by big corporations. Authors are not trying to get you.
Whatever you say about the book reflects directly on the person who wrote it, and it’s a public conversation.
Therefore, don’t make assumptions about how bad or good the author is. Instead, assess what’s said in the book. Believe it, disbelieve it, prove it wrong or argue it’s inconclusive but there is no direct connection between the authors text and his or her motives.
You don’t have to assassinate the author to disagree with his ideas. Assassination is a popular trend but it isn’t necessary.
It also isn’t necessary to suggest an author is sincere or good or very qualified, even if you know this personally. Ingratiating remarks are particularly bad when you’re about to fillet the person.
Stick to the facts. What was said? What was right or wrong about it?
Two areas where you can be generous: grammar and formatting
Grammar: Everyone makes grammar mistakes. Everyone misspells the occasional word. Everyone overlooks unnecessary words, leaves out the occasional word or uses a wrong case now and then.
It’s easy to cringe and yelp but don’t bash editing issues unless you find them everywhere. And remember. Most people, even with the occasional slip, make their meaning clear. That’s the real point.
Did the book make sense? Did you grasp the meaning? Could you follow the author’s logic? There are many grammatically correct books, about which you couldn’t say yes to those questions.
Remember, too, that editing isn’t a simple issue. There is more than one type of editing, every type takes many human hours to perform, can be done only by qualified people and can break the bank very quickly.
Don’t be too picky. What do you hate worse, occasional bad grammar or grammar exhibitions that are nice to look at but difficult to follow? If the author makes his or her thoughts clear and adds substance, don’t pick.
Formatting: Amazon provides one of the quickest and easiest ways to publish independently, but it isn’t easy. One of the most difficult phases is getting the format coded correctly for ALL devices.
Kindles are no problem. Amazon’s online facility for converting a Word doc into a MOBI file does fine for Kindle owners. But iPads are another issue. Haven’t tried an iPhone but wouldn’t be surprised if formatting gets lost on that device too.
I say all that to encourage you to graciously tell the author if the book is not displaying nicely. He or she will appreciate the heads up.
Share It On Facebook
If you found a useful read, share it on Facebook or Twitter. Again, it’s easy. Go to the books product page and click the Facebook icon at the top of the page, sign in and share.
Your friends will appreciate it and the author will love you for it.