First, make sure you are logged onto the website in question (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.).
Let's start with Amazon.
Go to the book's retail page.
If this is the correct book, scroll down to the review section and click the 'write a customer review' button.
A screen will open that looks like this.
First, click the blank stars to assign a rating. You can click different ones until the number of stars you want turn yellow. (Clicking the one on the far right assigns 5 stars.)
Next, give your review a headline. I usually add a short statement that sums up my overall thoughts or highlights a certain aspect that stood out to me. Ex: Fast-paced romance or Heart wrenching and wonderful!
If you can't think of a headline, never fear. You can leave it blank.
Next, type your comments in the 'write your review' box. You can delete and retype as many times as you like.
What do you write? Easy - just focus on the things you liked about the story.
This was such a good book! It kept my attention the whole way through. Or... I really loved how the author made me feel what the characters were feeling. Or... The plot had lots of twists and turns. It really kept me guessing!
What if there was something you didn't like about it? You can say nothing, you can include a negative comment, or you can turn the negative into a positive.
The book was long and really dragged in places could be exchanged for: If you like books with a slower pace that are long enough to sink into, this one's for you.
When it comes to specific content, such as violence or sex, don't be afraid to include a comment, even if it's negative. This helps prospective buyers decide if the book is for them. You might've not liked the level of violence, but there are plenty of readers who do and who will buy the book because you mentioned it.
What NOT to write...
It isn't necessary to write a synopsis of the story. That information is already posted on the retail page.
Don't leave seller feedback. (If your book never arrived or came damaged, there's a place in the 'my orders' section of your Amazon account to deal with that.) The review section is for readers to post their thoughts about the story.
And please don't include spoilers! If you do, type a warning first.
When you're satisfied with what you've typed, click the button that says 'submit.'
Viola! You're done!
If you realize you made a mistake, no problem. Just go to the review once it appears on the site and click edit. Make sure to save your changes.
Before you click away from the website, consider following the author, so you'll be notified of new releases. To do this, click on the author's name under the title of the book (retail page) and go to his/her author page, then click the 'follow' button.
Readers tell me you have to spend at least $50 per year on the Amazon site to be allowed to leave reviews. (I wouldn't know. My e-book purchases, alone, more than meet that requirement. LOL)
What about other sites?
On Barnes & Noble, it's basically the same. Log in, go the to book's retail page, and scroll down to the review section.
Goodreads isn't a retail site, but it's still helpful to rate and review books there. You can even mark a book 'want to read' before you read it.
The drop-down box gives you other choices, such as 'read' or 'currently reading,' and clicking on the stars will rate it and open up the review screen.
Some final things to consider...
Amazon reviews are the most coveted, but authors will be grateful no matter where you leave a review. And you'll have our eternal affection if you leave reviews on more than one site.
You can leave a review anywhere, no matter where (or if) you bought the book. The only ethical requirement is that you read it.
Your review doesn't have to be long or complicated. Just type a sentence or two that tell what you liked about the book. Even something short like 'Great book!' or 'Couldn't put it down!' is fine.
You don't have to give it 5 stars. Though most authors prefer at least 3, any review is better than no review.
If your goal is to support the author, then focus your comments on the things you liked about the story, even if you don't give it 5 stars.
There can never be too many reviews. Whether a book has 5 reviews or 500, leave one, too. This helps an author's rank and keeps the book more visible to new customers.
If you enjoy reading and reviewing stories (especially if you're on a limited budget), you might consider joining your favorite author's review team. You'll get free e-books to read, and the author gets your support in the form of reviews. To find out if this is possible for the author in question, simply reach out to him or her and ask (most authors have a contact form on their blog or website). We love to hear from readers!
Tell people about the book and ask your local library to carry it. You can also post about it if you blog.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Reviewing books is easy once you know how to get started.