Tips for Writing Reviews from an Amazon Top Reviewer

Saturday, August 20, 2016
I love when authors send signed copies!!!!
Here I am with Donald Dempsey's Memoir
I started writing book reviews a few years ago. I would publish them on my blog, Goodreads, Amazon, and Ezine Articles. In the beginning, I was reading because I wanted to improve my writing skills. I figured it was the least I could do for the hard working authors. There’s something wonderful to be said for any book and I wanted to tell the world. All of a sudden, authors were approaching me. They were offering me free copies of their books if I would write an honest review. Then I took my current position with WOW! Women on Writing and as they say, the rest is history!

It’s not really that straight forward. Someone approached me asking “can we send you some of our chocolate covered peanut butter cups to try and review?” and that’s what sparked the rest of my reviews. Now, the UPS truck pulls in the yard every day bearing gifts in exchange for my reviews. My dear friend Michelle recently told me she was having trouble writing reviews. She came to me for advice and I want to share with you not only the story of how I became an Amazon Top Reviewer, but also a few tips for writing your own reviews:

1) Read through the description of the product or the summary of the book first. Make sure you have what you expected you were receiving. If there’s a discrepancy, you’ll want to let the company or the author know right away and you may want to include that in your review.

2) Look at the questions other people are writing. Look at the other reviews. Review the comments on the product/book. If there’s a way for you to include commentary about those concerns, do so in your review. (ie: if a book received a 1 star review from someone stating the author was whining about their life while writing their memoir, you may want to include a sentence about how you felt concerning the author’s storytelling.)

3) Talk about what sets this product/story apart from the others. You may have used many flashlights in your life, but this one may be brighter, the battery may last longer, it may fit in your hand better, etc…or in the case of a book, there may be many memoirs on the market today, but this one may have touched you because _____________________, etc.

4) Speak from your heart. In the case of a book review, you’ll want to talk about how you felt when you finished reading the book. Did you want the book to continue because you couldn’t bear to part with the characters because they were written so well? In the case of a product, how did it make your life easier/better?

As a reviewer, it isn’t your job to “sell” the product or book. You don’t need to include the details that are already provided, unless it makes it special. If you say “this book is about Donald Dempsey’s amazing life” when the book is clearly being marketed as a memoir, you are going to come off looking silly. You may want to say “as Donald Dempsey shares the pivotal moments of his life, I felt my heart breaking for the young man he was while I was cheering on the man he is today. He has overcome incredible obstacles and has become a hero in so many ways.”

Use your writing skills to make your reviews interesting and informational. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and read something you wouldn’t usually chose or try a product you haven’t considered before. Had I said no to those peanut butter cups, I probably wouldn’t be wearing this great free shirt and leggings! Reviewing is a fun way to try new things and it’s the best way to thank an author!

Leave a link in the comments for your favorite book or book review – we would love to hear from you!

Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 8, Breccan 2, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at: and


Sioux Roslawski said...

Crystal--Some bloggers (including Lisa Ricard Claro) have posted about what readers can unwittingly do that results in their (honest) reviews being pulled from Amazon. It's become a real problem. I'm glad you have daily deliveries of things to review. That must be fun.

Crystal Otto said...

Could you post those links? A friend just emailed me about that yesterday. She showed me the Amazon response of "we will no longer respond to inquiries regarding this matter" and I'm floored...what horrible service. I'd love to share some articles if you have good ones :)

brenda said...

Thanks for the guidelines. I am an author and read all the time and ashamed I never leave reviews. I've tried, but when I try my brain goes blank, my fingers quiver and run away from the keyboard.

Angela Mackintosh said...

This is a helpful post, Crystal! I often struggle when writing book reviews, and you've simplified the process. I like the idea of answering other reviewer's questions.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Crystal--Here are links to two different postings by Lisa Ricard Claro. It was prompted by people's reviews of her books getting taken off of Amazon by Amazon. Some of her readers wrote to her and complained.

I hope you and your readers find these helpful... I myself had my review of Lisa Ricard Claro's first book removed, with no explanation. I've called, and was told I'd get an email response in 24 hours. It's now been three days...

Crystal Otto said...

Thanks so much Sioux - these articles are helpful (much more so than Amazon customer service it seems)

Theresa Boedeker said...

You brought up some wonderful things to do, like reading other reviews and trying to answer concerns other comments bring up. Now I will be much better prepared when leaving a review. Such a helpful article.

Linda Appleman Shapiro said...

I think your suggestions of how to write reviews is excellent. As always, you are thoughtful and ethical in your approach. My recent experience with having a review first accepted and then never posted because the powers that be thought it over and decided that I shared too many "elements" in common with the author. Our educated guess is that one of his books (not the one I reviewed) and my memoir share the same publisher. But he and I are not personal friends and my review was in no way biased. So, while Amazon publishes glaringly negative and ignorant reviews (which thank God I have only received one out of nearly 100 -- but ones that are harmful to any author, they had no problem with the content of my review. Makes no sense to me and wonder how we -- as a community of writers -- can find a way to confront them. Thanks again for all that you do for so many of us!

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