Why I’ve decided to review every book I read
It’s really very simple. I want everybody who reads my books to review them. I want as many reviews as it takes to tickle the Amazon algorithm enough that it will start making my work more visible. If I don’t review other people’s books, why should I expect people to review mine? I’m also trying to establish myself as a reliable and effective reviewer.
What do you do if you read a book a friend has written and it’s awful? I think if I knew the person well I’d tell them what I thought but not actually post the review. Fortunately, since I’ve been doing this, I’ve never had to give less than three stars and for all the writers I know personally I’ve been able to give four or five stars. This is in part because I am extremely picky about what I choose to read. But I won’t hesitate to give one or two stars if that’s what the book deserves and I don’t know the author personally.
It needn’t be onerous
It’s possible to give a review in two or three sentences that explains the strengths and weaknesses of the book and why you’ve give it the star rating you have. This takes between five and ten minutes. Why wouldn’t you spend that amount of time giving a little feed-back to the writer who has spent hours and hours writing that text? And you’ve also spent several hours reading it. Surely another five or ten minutes isn’t too much to ask?
Where to review and what the star-ratings mean
I post my short reviews on Amazon, Good Reads and Story Graph. I tend to put the same review on each one though I may vary the star ratings across the sites. On Amazon and Story Graph I’m giving an objective assessment of the book as a work in literature. On Good Reads I’m recommending the book to people who follow me as either a reader or a writer. I may give a lower rating here if I think it is not a book my followers will enjoy. Story Graph, incidentally, allows you to add some more detail. You’re asked to supply key words, assign it some emotionally descriptive words and tick boxes about character, plot development and pace. This may be a really good place to find books you’d like to read.
My longer reviews
I review for Armadillo magazine, a site about children’s books. I review in the Young Adult section. These reviews tend to be about 200 words long and we’re encouraged to be as positive as we can. Generally this is possible as we’re supplied with good books to start with.
I also have a site The Young Person’s Library that gives neutral information about books: which ages they’re suitable for, what they’re about, how easy they are to read, physical information about the book, and information about any “value-added” materials such as quiz sheets or maps. All of this information is useful for the adult who may be trying to buy books for the young people in their care.
I add books about World War II, the 1940s and the Holocaust to my site The House on Schellberg Street Here I am defining the usefulness of the texts. What can they say to the sort of people who visit my site?
Once a month I recommend the book I’ve enjoyed the most that month. I mention it on Gill’s Recommended Reads and in my monthly newsletter.
If you really find it hard to find those ten minutes to review a book or indeed the words to describe it, might you not consider reviewing just those that you feel you can give four or five stars to and that have not as yet fifty reviews?