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Writing, Reading, Laughing

Friday, February 21, 2014

Guest Post from Julie Musil - Book Reviews: Go For It!

As my southern grandmother would say, "I'm thrilled spitless," to welcome the amazing
Julie Musil
Friend - Talented Author - Critique Partner - Inspiration

Her fantabulous debut novel

is available NOW - YES RIGHT NOW! 

Julie was my mentor in navigating online reviewing. 
Today she's sharing her savvy on the topic. 

The Importance of Book Reviews & How to Write Them

Book reviews...who needs ‘em? 
Apparently, writers and readers!

I’ll admit, I never used to write book reviews. If I loved a book I’d share the good news with my friends and family. 
But that was it.

As I prepared to self publish my YA novel,
I learned how important reviews are for authors and readers. 

  • Reviews are important to the author because even negative reviews make the title visible to potential readers. Visibility helps sell more books.
  • A review is important to readers because it helps them decide whether or not to invest valuable time and money in a book.

I have two tips for leaving book reviews:

Be honest but fair. No need to be cruel with a review. If you didn’t like the book, don’t feel pressured to leave a five-star review. The point of a review is to help future readers. 

Say as much or as little as you’d like. If you want to say only a few words about what you did or didn’t like with the book, that’s fine. If you want to write an in-depth review about your favorite or least favorite parts of the book, go for it.

If you’ve read the story on a Kindle, chances are you’ll receive a pop up window requesting a star rating and review after you turn the final page. (I’m not sure if this happens with a Nook. If you know, please mention it in the comments). 

Here's the online step-by-step reviewing process for Amazon:
  1. Search for the title in question. Click on the title.
  2. Below the title, you should see “Be the first to write a review” or (4 customer reviews) — or however many reviews have been received so far. Click on this statement.
  3. Under “Average Customer Review” you should see “Create Your Own Review.” Click that button.
  4. Click on the number of stars you want to rate it. 1= I hate it, 2 = I don’t like it, 3 = It’s okay, 4 = I like it, 5 = I love it.
  5. In the line provided, write a headline summary of your review. When writing the review for Philippa Gregory’s The Kingmaker’s Daughter, my title was “Fascinating read.”
  6. Click in the box below where it says “Write your review here.” This is where you can write what you did or didn’t like about the book. In the review for The Kingmaker’s Daughter, I complimented the author on her beautiful language and character development.
  7. Click Submit.
The process for Barnes and Noble and Goodreads are basically the same. 

And there you have it—a quickie tutorial on writing book reviews.

What’s your opinion on book reviews? Do you still trust them? Do you write them? Any tips you’d like to add?

If you’ve read The Boy Who Loved Fire, thank you so much! If you’d like to write a review, click here.

Julie, thank you so much for popping by. 
I wish you all good things for 
The Boy Who Loved Fire

Julie Musil writes Young Adult novels from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her novel The Boy Who Loved Fire is available now. For more information, or to stop by and say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

The Boy Who Loved Fire
By Julie Musil
Manny O’Donnell revels in his status at the top of his high school food chain. He and his friends party in the mountains on a blustery night, sharing liquor and lame ghost stories around a campfire. The next morning, as a wild fire rages in those same mountains, Manny experiences doubt. He was the last of the drunken crew to leave the cave, and he’s uncertain if he extinguished the flames. Within hours, he becomes the number one arson suspect.

Santa Ana winds + matches = disaster. You’d think he would've learned that the first time he started a fire.

As he evades a determined arson investigator, Manny, a modern-day Scrooge, is visited by ghosts of the past, present, and future. He’s forced to witness the fate of his inadvertent victims, including Abigail, the scarred beauty who softens his heart. Manny must choose between turning around his callous, self-centered attitude, or protecting his own skin at the expense of anyone who gets in his way.

Buy Links for The Boy Who Loved Fire


  1. I tend not to do book reviews on my blog, but I will do them on Goodreads and maybe Amazon. Because I don't want a conflict of interest, I'll normally host a blogging friend on my blog, but not review their book there. I want to be completely honest.
    Awesome to see Julie here! I like the mystery of her premise.

  2. Reviews are SO important! I wish more people left them :) Great points here. I review a lot on my blog (they're easy and fun that works, haha!), and I love getting to spread the word about a book I've loved!

  3. Leslie, thanks so much for letting me hang out on your blog today!

    Theresa, I totally agree about official book reviews on the blog. Best to keep it honest. I like to couple a wannabe review with writing lessons learned.

    Meradeth, I now feel bad for all the reviews I didn't leave! Now I try to review each book I read. Can't say I'm very good at it.

  4. I just finished Julie's book and it is AWESOME! Highly recommend it!
    Great tips on reviewing Julie :)

  5. Jemi, thanks for stopping by AND for reading :)

  6. As a writer, I found my reviews turned into critiques: digging into what worked and what didn't for characterization, dialogue, plot, etc. Then I read a series of controversial and thought provoking posts by Kristen Lamb about writers leaving critiques rather than reviews. I still have mixed feelings about the subject but it has made a little more cautious about the reviews I leave.

  7. Great guest post, Julie.
    Leslie, thanks for stopping by my blog. I followed back. =)

  8. Great post, Julie. I leave honest reviews on most everything I read. It is about exposure. The old adage "Any publicity is good publicity." If you take time to read and negative reviews, it's fairly easy to decipher why it was rated poorly, and it may have nothing to do with how you might read the book. Also, I look for books with a lot of 3 and 4 star reviews. Those middle road reviews tend to give a more honest overview of the book in question.

  9. I'm terrible with writing reviews. I usually just rate a book. The one thing that surprised me with my recent release is just how in dept some reviewers get. They reviews make my scrawny ones look pathetic! (not that it takes much to achieve that)

  10. Margo, I suppose it's a matter of taking off our writer hats and donning a reader hat. When I leave reviews, it's solely as a reader. I wish I'd read Kristen's post!

    Cherie, thank you for stopping by!

    Dean, I absolutely agree. 3 or 4 stars is a good average.

    Stina, I'm doing good if I leave one at all! I figure one line of text is fine, plus the star rating.

  11. My blog is a book review blog so yes, I review books almost exclusively. I'll throw in an author interview or guest post in but mainly reviews. I post my reviews all around though I tend to avoid Barnes and Noble b/c I have had trouble leaving reviews. I leave them on Goodreads, Amazon, Book Depository for international readers, and Library Things. And then there are auto posts to Bloglovin' and Facebook. Tweets too. Everyone knows.

    I do like the premise of your book. Once I catch up on my reading I'll take a look at it. I'll mark it on Goodreads.

  12. Buried in books, that sound great!

  13. Julie, I try to remember to write reviews on Goodreads, but at the very least I'll leave a star rating. I admit that I will glance at reviews, but not pay too much attention to them. But some people do, and I know I want them on my books.
    And Leslie, thanks for the kind words last week. Anytime you feel up to commenting, please do - it would be a delight to see you visit.

  14. Can't wait to read "The Boy Who Loved Fire!!!" Just ordered it for my Nook!

  15. Alex, stars are so much easier to leave! I'm with you…if I don't have time to do a full review, a star rating will have to do. Even that's better than nothing!

    Laurisa, thank you SO much!

  16. My philosophy? The nicest thing you can do for an author is write them a review... but I suppose that sometimes it doesn't work out that way...
    I would love to read Julie's book...

  17. Michelle, I feel bad that I didn't realize this sooner. Yes, it's so helpful for an author, especially if they're new.

    Thanks so much for stopping by! If you read the book, I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

  18. I always try and leave reviews for books I read and love. Every books has it's positives and negatives. I like to focus on the positive. :)

  19. I love that you wrote about this--it's so, so important. I truly think if more "readers" realized the importance they'd take the time to star and drop the required 25 (I think) words on Amazon for a review. I always review anything 3 stars and up. I feel too guilty if it's a lower rating.

  20. Hugs all around to everyone stopping by and supporting Julie!

  21. I have been hearing wonderful things about Julie's book. So great to learn more about her here. Great advice about book reviews. I do write them, but if I don't like a book I won't write a review. Thanks for sharing! :)

  22. Laura, I'm with you…there's usually something positive to say! I suppose that's true with most things in life :)

    Tara, I had no idea how important reviews are! And I agree about less than three stars. Reminds me of mom's advice: if you can't say anything nice…

    Jess, it's so great that you write book reviews! Wish I'd known about this sooner :/

  23. I do read book reviews on Amazon, especially because they're usually very candid. If a lot of the reviewers are saying the same thing, then I often believe them, and it helps me make my decision on whether or not to buy the book. I've never written a book review before, though I've thought about it. There was one chick lit novel that I read a few months ago that got a lot of good reviews but that I did not like at all; I thought about writing a less-than-positive review, but I was afraid of hurting the author's feelings.

  24. Neurotic, that's a tough position, for sure. I know other people leave negative reviews and one stars, but I couldn't be the one to do it. As writers, we know how it would feel to receive one of those.

  25. Congrats and best of luck to Julie!

    Leslie, I hope you might consider joining my bloggers' book club. Details are here:

  26. I wish more people left reviews. Sometimes in person or online someone said they read and liked my book, but then no review. I review most of the books I read since I know reviews are so valuable to readers and writers.

  27. Armchair, thank you!

    Medeia, I know what you mean. So many people have said wonderful things to me in person, but haven't left a review. I can't really blame them. I've done the same thing!

  28. Very good advice! Great post. I love reading book reviews and always feel like I get a lot out of them.

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, with Joy)

  29. Sarah, it's cool that you've been reading reviews. I normally don't read them. I rely on word of mouth from friends and family. But I'm changing that!

    Thanks for stopping by.