How to Write a Book Review for Amazon or Goodreads

Your Amazon or Goodreads book review provides an inestimable service for consumers. It’s even more crucial for authors.

Buyers want to know if the book is worth their money to purchase.

Readers want to know if it’s worth their time to read. Reviews help readers find books that are right for them.

People don’t want to waste their time or money. 

They also are trying to avoid a bad reading experience. They don’t want the plot spoiled, but they also don’t want unpleasant surprises that will ruin the book for them. 

To write a book review for Amazon or Goodreads, start by giving the book a 1 to 5 star rating. Then write your review leaving out spoilers and plot summary. Include your opinion, your emotional reaction, content warnings and the likelihood of recommending the book to friends. 

Assign the book a star rating

Amazon and Goodreads uses a 5 star rating scale, with 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. 

One and two star ratings are considered critical reviews and 3, 4 and 5 star ratings are considered positive reviews. 

One thing you can ask yourself when choosing a star rating is how likely you are to recommend the book to friends. If you’re very likely to recommend it, give it five stars. 

How fast did you finish the book? This could be a clue about how much you liked it. 

Unfortunately, there’s no provision for half stars, so if you’re on the fence you have to decide which way you’re leaning. 

Something that skews the results are the reviewers who give one star reviews because their book arrived damaged. This also applies to technical problem as well, if the ebook wouldn’t download or the print size was too small. 

Obviously, these are not problems that the author can influence. Yet, it hurts the overall rating score of the book. 

Personally, I feel the corollary to Anne Bogel’s statement “Life’s too short for bad books” is “Life’s too short for bad book reviews”.

I want to focus my time, effort and brain power on great books. Books that I didn’t like and don’t recommend aren’t worth the mental and emotional energy to review. 

Write your review: what to leave out


You definitely don’t want to include any plot points that will sabotage the reading experience.

A general rule of thumb I’ve read repeatedly is not to mention anything that happens in the second half of the book. 

I’d go a step further. Don’t say anything that’s not included in the blurb written for promotional purposes. 

Plot summary, premise and setting 

These should be all be covered in the book description next to the book title, author and cover picture on the Amazon purchase page. 

You don’t need to include those in your review. 

Write your review: what to include

Your opinion 

This is what readers and buyers are looking for: your thoughts as an average, typical consumer. It’s not the place for the polished words of marketers and publicists. 

They want to know what you liked or didn’t like and why. 

Your emotional reaction

Did you race through to the end? Did it stick with you long after you finished? 

Did you identify emotionally with the story? 

How did it make you feel? 

Trigger warnings or content warnings

Remember, you’re trying to help other readers avoid a bad reading experience. 

Without giving away critical plot points, you want to alert people to potentially aversive content. You can write a review with a spoiler warning and hide the section of the review that people can skip if they’re avoiding spoilers. 

How you heard about the book

Sometimes it helps people to know how the book showed up on your radar. 

Likelihood that you will recommend the book to others

Let readers know if you’ll be spreading the word about this book. 

One effective way is to write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Have fun!

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