The other day, an interesting discussion came up on Facebook regarding reviews.  It seems that readers are becoming more reluctant to leave reviews, especially for indie books.  I've actually found that to be the case myself, as I frequently get messages on my website and FB page praising the book, but if I go so far as to ask for a review, the readers seem hesitant.  I suppose they feel put on the spot when asked for a review by the author, since they feel they can't be truly honest.

Is there an effective way of asking for reviews without making the readers feel obligated or embarrassed?

Tags: amazon, feedback, goodreads, opinion, reviews

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I'm just honest with folks. If I'm talking to somebody who's read my work, or plans to read my work, I tell that person to please take the time to write a review (even if it's not necessarily a five-star review), because it helps me out.

And I encourage these potential reviewers to be honest, because I'd rather have a two or three star review that's informative and honest, than no review it all.  I think most people understand this.

Maybe they don't feel qualified to write or don't know how to put a review together. Maybe some sort of template to give the non-writer direction, flow and content outline to help get them started. I'm not suggesting writing ti for them but a simple step by step to writing a good review. Just a thought from one of those people who get review freeze

You have a very good point, but where would you offer this template?  I think some people might also take offense at the author trying to tell them how to write a review, and view it as being high-handed or obnoxiously superior.  Any ideas?

You have a very good point. I would love it if someone offered me a template but now that I think about it, some people might take offense. Maybe, in the course of asking for reviews, you could mention that a lot of people (and I do think it's a lot) don't know where to start with writing a review. Then, if you get the sense that they are one of those people, you could suggest following a template. Put the template online, and simply suggest and offer a link if you think you could be talking to someone who is like me. Aside from that, I honestly don't know how to answer. If you ever do make a template, please send it to me. Thanks!

Some readers review all the time. I reviewed all 300+ books I read last year on Goodreads (and a lot on Amazon). Some just rate a book (on sites where they can, like Goodreads), and some don't bother with any of it. That's just the lay of the land. 

I think many believe that they have to write a novel themselves to do a proper review. Hell, I'd be happy with "Book good! Fire bad! Formatting nice! Good afternoon read!" or something similarly monosyllabic. I think far too many reviewers go too overboard exhibiting their "frustrated writer" status and logging in paragraphs of detail on either the plot, story or character motivations. 

The one primary rule that we as authors and writers need to remember is that REVIEWS ARE NOT FOR US. THEY ARE FOR OTHER READERS! Sure, we have to worry about their numbers for some promotions, and we should be reading the critical ones to see if there are holes in our craft to be patched, but reviews are not some dialogue that we are having with a particular reader. A review is just an opinion at a particular point in time, educated or not, meant to influence the reading and buying habits of other readers. 

We don't need a template. We need a simple guideline: Just tell other readers why you liked the book or why you hated it. Explain if it's not self-evident if you want. It's not required. 

Rich,

I understand what you are saying but I could never bring myself to leaving a review like the one you suggest. As a reviewer, I'd rather say nothing than to say something that is any less than an actual review. 

What exactly is "an actual review" then? (quotes for emphasis and not snark) 

I personally feel that anything said about a book you've actually read (or even tried to read) is valid. I wish more people who feel they are less verbose but are avid readers would try their hand at reviewing. It's the closest thing many might ever come to actually writing and unless they are in throes of some sort of asshattery (vengeful words against an author for the author's sake and not the book), I think most would welcome them with open arms. 

Rich,

You hit on the key point, "I personally feel." That is what it's all about. I personally feel like I can't write what I consider to be a decent review, worthy of a good, bad or mediocre book. And, therefore have a block that prevents me from even getting started. It matters little what I think a good review is, I don't feel I can write it and therefore, need help or don't get started. My "feeling" may be completely unfounded but I seem to have owned it, and so, can't do it. I feel, in my case, some sort of template would give me some direction to get started.

I completely agree with you.  There's absolutely no need to rehash the details of the plot, or comment on every single character or aspect of the book.  A simple, "Hey, I enjoyed it," would be more than enough.  I think that for some reason, people are more apt to review books that are popular, probably because they want to get their two cents in and have others read their "masterpiece." 

I, personally, can't be bothered to review everything I read and see, but I will write a review when something really touched me, or infuriated me.

Just knowing that the two of you would be happy with a few short words like you've stated helps me. It makes it something I feel I can manage. If all authors feel this way about reviews left for their books, maybe I'll start leaving more.

Speaking as a potential buyer browsing Amazon, I am far more likely to read a short, pithy review. If a review runs to more than one short paragraph I probably won't bother with any more than the first and last sentences, if anything.

Most buying decisions for non-technical, low-price consumables (eg books) are made in a matter of seconds. A review that takes two minutes to read is a waste of time. (Note, I am referring only to reader reviews here, not in depth press reviews - those I read as entertainment in their own right!)

I totally agree.  I'm also more likely to read a short review, or sometimes even just look at the star rating.  Generally, if the book has more than 3.5 stars, it's probably pretty good. 

As an author, I want feedback, but I don't need the reader to tell me what the book is about; I already know, and so do other readers if they've read the synopsis.  I don't think anyone expects a thesis on a particular book.  A few lines are more than enough to express an opinion.

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