Before I became an author, I never wrote book reviews on Amazon. It never occurred to me that I should. I would read them, but I didn’t think it was my duty (or right) to write them. Since then, I’ve written numerous reviews. My husband has, too. What I’ve come to realize is that authors and readers need book reviews from all kinds of readers, not just from professional reviewers.

Authors look for reviews because they are putting their books out there to be read, and they long for feedback. They want to know that people aren’t only buying the books, but are actually reading them. Reviews also help the author (usually) because they help potential readers make a decision to give the book a chance.

I’ll give you an example: I recently got a Kindle Fire and started browsing for books on Amazon. That’s an eye-opening experience. The first thing I noticed is that the book’s cover and title need to grab a shopper’s attention. Once they do that, it’s the reviews that often make or break the potential sale. I look at how many reviews the book has received. Then I check the breakdown–how many 5 stars, 4 stars, 3 stars, 2 stars, 1 star. I’ll read a few reviews. If the reviews look good, I’ll read the opening of the book (free sample). Then I make my decision. That’s usually how it happens. There have been instances, though, when the reviews made me make an instant decision.

That’s how important reviews are!

So, if you are a reader and you want to write a review, how do you do it?

It can be daunting. How much do you need to say? What if you aren’t good with words, grammar, and punctuation? What if you hurt the author’s feelings?

Well, first, don’t worry about your own writing skills. It doesn’t matter if you make typos, misspell words, etc. No one is going to complain. Second, you don’t have to write an essay and give a full synopsis of the book. One sentence giving your feelings about the book is plenty. Readers and authors want to know your opinion. That’s what counts. Of course everyone has different likes and dislikes. Don’t worry if your opinion is different from that of other reviewers. It doesn’t matter. Go ahead and post your reviews. Third, it can be difficult to read criticism about one’s own book, but authors usually develop a tough skin and can take constructive criticism. Most won’t get their feelings hurt–provided the review isn’t a vicious attack meant to hurt.

What if you’ve never posted a review on Amazon and don’t know the technical process?

That’s easy enough. Go to Log into your account. Bring up the book in the search engine. Scan down the page to ‘Customer Reviews’ and click on the gold box (Write a customer review). Under the question ‘How would you describe the plot of this book?’ give a brief title. Then click on the number of stars you want to rate it. Then write your review and submit it. You’ll get an email soon afterwards telling you that your review is live. That’s it.

What if you didn’t buy the book on Amazon?

It doesn’t matter. You can still post a review, even if you got the book for free, bought it in person, checked it out from the library, or borrowed it from a friend.

It’s really pretty simple. Go ahead and give it a try if you haven’t already. Authors need your help!