Writing a Top Book Review Takes Practice
After five years of writing reviews, I’ve learned about what it takes to write a top book review. I get compliments, but my ratings on Amazon still underwhelm me. Nobody is grading you, so look at what other readers wrote. You are not going to plagiarize just by looking! However, it is not cheating to let Amazon help you write a great review. Other reviewers often offer insights you miss.
Start with a Top Book Review on Amazon
In my first years of reviewing, I thought the little Amazon box that says title meant to write in the title of the book. Every time I saw that box, I thought, “What a dumb box, the title is obvious, but oh well,” and I’d type in the book title. I looked at other people’s reviews. I never noticed that their titles read “Five Stars,” “Loved It” “Author’s Best Book Ever.” One day when I looked at other reviews critically, it hit me. The title should be mine. It reflects what I thought about the book, author, characters, or how the book affected me.
How to Write Top Reviews on Amazon
- Begin by studying most helpful reviews on Amazon. I took the advice of C. S. Lakin about writing book descriptions. To create your book review, cut and paste reviews for similar books into a Google Doc. To write a review for someone else’s book, cut and paste three or four reviews you like for the book you are reviewing. I paste them right into my draft on WordPress.
- Highlight phrases and words that resonate.
- Compose your review. You might agree or disagree with one or more of the reviewers. Of course, if you quote them you can include their link in the Amazon review as a reference. Sometimes I weave in few of their words or a phrase because I like the way it sounds. You usually do not have to use quote marks for borrowing a phrase or word unless it is a famous quote.
- Usually, I react to quotes from the book or use them to illustrate one of my “teaching” points.
Is Your Blog Review Different Than Your Amazon Review?
I keep my Amazon review shorter. After I finish the brief review, I add information to my blog review.
- First, a top book review on my blog needs graphics. I create three illustrations: a branded picture of the book, a ranking infographic and a featured image that will appear at the top of my post and on the home page. An example of the main branded graphic is above. I started out making this 900 x 1200 pixels, the recommended size by Canva. Then my blog started slowing down, so now I make them 400 x 600 pixels. I link this picture to the book on Amazon. Since I am now an affiliate, I include that code. So far I have made zero $, but I still do it, hopeful that someone will click on it. 🙂
- Keeping Amazon, Canva and my blog tabs open, I save the book picture from Amazon, and add it to my finder or photos file so I can upload it to Canva.
- I copy the statistics then create a Canva graphic to show them. Notice the date. Ranks change I realized after I started publicizing the book’s status. Now I date them on the graphic. When I first started including this information I cut and pasted it into the review. On other blogs, I like infographics much better, so I created this. What do you think?
- The final picture is the featured image. This is a 400 x 250 pixels. The author and the book or books appear in this photo. The background color of turquoise indicates that I wrote the review. It is not a guest post. Without including this image, nothing shows on my home page. Your theme may not need a featured image.
- Looking at the featured picture brings up another difference in the blog review. Amazon includes a short biography and a photo of the author. Do you like to include this information in your post? Often as I write the review, I check out the author’s website and link it to his or her name in my post. Then I press follow on the Amazon page. Why not give the author a little boost while you are there?
- Sometimes, I roam around Twitter looking for the author. They do not always have an account, but if I noticed a hashtag with their name on it, I add that to the end of my post or when I repost on social media. You may find more than one hashtag to use because they have a fan base.
- Since I used to consult with teachers about Common Core, I sometimes include an analysis of how I thought the book would apply to Common Core teaching. I might add a little about how the book taught social studies skills since teaching is my area of expertise. At other times I include what I learned as a writer.
- Even in my longer reviews, I do not summarize the story. A review is not a book report. Ingrid Parker wrote on Facebook, “…I agree that poor reviews are suffering from the rules of the “book report” taught in public schools. The emphasis there is on proof that the kid has read the whole book and nobody expects deep insights beyond “I liked it.” I’m a writer. I want minimal plot summary and instead comments about the type of novel it is, the characters, and the quality of the narrative. I also want something that will make people buy the book (or not). That is the purpose of the professional review.“
- Ingrid includes other facts that I have not included in most of my reviews because I had not thought about it. She writes, “Depending on the purpose of the review; I included facts such as the number of pages, pictures, and other details about the organization or pedigree of the book.
This process made the review writing comfortable and gave me confidence that people would find the reviews helpful. Writing the review was a writing exercise in itself. If you haven’t written a review, it’s fun. It would be a great activity for students to do. (Marsha the teacher again). Students could all write their reviews, then compile the best words and phrases into a composite post that they publish on Amazon. Hmmm…
People get paid to write reviews. Unfortunately, for readers of this blog, I’m not an expert in that area. I receive no payments for my reviews. If you do, please feel free to comment. If you don’t, feel free to comment as well. #amwriting #amreading #bookreview.
- A favorite guest review Myth and Magic by Mae Clair a Pressed A+ Book Review
- One of my popular reviews A+ Book Review +9 Tips to Improve Shitty Drafts from Anne Lamott
- My newest book review Imagine a Free Black Canadian Child in a Town of Runaways
- How to use Canva to brand your reviews How Canva.com Turned Me into a Graphic Artist
In my comment section Robin Leigh Morgan left a link to her Amazon Profile. She has had 1.3K people click “helpful” on her reviews. I look at her as an expert reviewer. Take a peek. https://www.amazon.com/gp/profile/A19QLCLVPLZH0B