When you buy something on Amazon (or any other online retailer), do you skip reading the reviews, or do you use them to help you decide whether you should hit the “buy” button? Do you make a habit of writing a review for books, products, and services you buy?
Over 95% of us check the reviews before buying. In fact, if a product or business has at least 5 positive reviews, a customer is 4 times as likely to purchase than if there are fewer.  Yet, 31.5% of consumers say they never get around to writing a review. Reviews are important. They are important if you are a prospective customer and they are essential if you are an author or any other seller, online or in person.
So, writing a review is the right thing to do!
It helps people decide whether or not they want to spend their hard earned money on a given product. If there are two or more products that a buyer is trying to choose from, reviews will likely be the deciding factor.
Writing a review is a way to say, “thank you.”
Have you ever been really impressed with a product? Have you ever closed the cover of a book a little sad it was over, but so glad you were able to read it? Hard work goes into delivering that kind of product. Writing a review allows you to acknowledge those efforts and reward them. Most businesses and authors personally read the reviews that their customers write. As an author, I can tell you that it means a lot to me when people take the time to read my work and tell others what they think of it.
That’s actually a great way to look at writing a review. You are giving your opinion on something, just the same way you would recommend a book or product to a friend or family member—just the same way you would warn a family member or friend away from a lemon of a product or a snoozer of a book.
People are more likely to leave a review if their experience with a product or service is negative. Yet, a lot of people hesitate to leave negative feedback, especially for a book. My husband is one of these people. He told me that he never leaves a negative review for a book, no matter how bad it is. He was concerned about the author’s feelings and earning potential and hadn’t thought about how valuable his review might be to prospective buyers. I completely understand this, but…
The author also has something to gain from a (well-written) negative review.
They can get insight into what works and what doesn’t work in their book. This information can be used to improve a revised edition of the book. It can also help them ensure their future books are up to par.
Other writers within the genre will also read reviews to learn what their prospective audience wants. One example of writing a review that includes constructive criticism is this one that I wrote for a book about time management. As you will see, I was less than impressed with the book.
3 out of 5 stars – Good principles, but a lackluster book
“This book highlights good time management principles, to be sure. Unfortunately, they are only highlighted. There was plenty of ground the author could’ve covered, but she instead, skimmed across the surface without going into any depth. This seems to be a problem in this genre (perhaps because the author is trying to save time). I will point out an important principle she highlighted in this book. “Efficient isn’t always effective.” If you can do both, great. But it’s not worth sacrificing effectiveness for efficiency. That’s what happened here. It’s not a terrible book, but an ineffective one.”
My goal when writing a review
I certainly didn’t relish writing a review that was less than enthusiastic about this book. In fact, one of my favorite things is to write a positive review. But, it was also my opinion that the book was a total waste of money. Still, I wanted to let people know why. After all, if someone was only looking for a brief overview of time management principles, this might be a good fit. Whether I write a positive or a negative review, it is my goal to let people know what to expect from the book or product. From there, they can decide for themselves whether it is a purchase worth making.
Bonus Reason for Writing a Review: Free Books or Products!
This is a completely legitimate reason to write a review. I’ve sold hundreds of copies of my book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone who has Cancer. Yet, there are currently only 13 reviews on its sales page. That’s a pretty typical percentage. There are many reasons why people choose not to write reviews.
To help up the odds, companies and publishers often have programs in place in which they give consumers a free product or book in exchange for the consumer writing an honest review. Often they require that the review is posted on Amazon, Goodreads (if it’s a book) and your own website and/or social media account. My favorite book review program is through Net Galley. They have certain requirements, but if you meet them, it can be a great way of getting advance release copies of books for free. Plus, you have the opportunity to help an author get the word out about their upcoming book.
In the coming weeks we will look at:
- The easiest way to write and edit your reviews on Amazon.com
- Different styles of book reviews
- How to create your own review template (plus, I’ll give you one of mine)
What Are YOUR Thoughts?
How often do you review books, products, or services? Why do you or don’t you do it? I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!
I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:
I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.
 “How Online Reviews Influence Sales – The Medill IMC Spiegel Research Center.” Speigel Research Center, spiegel.medill.northwestern.edu/online-reviews/.
 Blumenthal, Mike. “How Willing Are Consumers to Leave Reviews?” GatherUp, 19 June 2017, gatherup.com/blog/willing-consumers-leave-reviews/.