Writing Reviews for Other Authors—and Learning About Our Writing

When your book is published, you want and need to have reviews posted on Amazon. A lot of people are eager to read a book, but get very nervous when the author asks them to write a review. And we should not have to be “asked,” we should just “write and post” a review.

If as writers we would think ahead to how someone might review our book, and will it be a 5- or 3-star review on Amazon, we might look more closely at our final product. These are the things you should ask yourself—and ask of the book you are reading to review, primarily non-fiction.

  • Did the author make their intended point clearly?
  • Is their writing clear and concise?
  • Did they write to their intended market?
  • Did they satisfy you with their content, based on expectations?


Learning…Here are a few more to ask yourself, the author wannabe.

  • Did you use beta readers to get input before the editing process started?
  • Have you read your book out loud at least one time, knowing that your ears hear what your eyes might not see?
  • Have you read the final manuscript in a larger type than you usually read things?
  • Is your book edited by one professional and proofread by another?
  • Were all parts edited/proofread? (Many times dedications and acknowledgments are done by the author after the editor is done—and thus contain errors.)


Reviews don’t have to be long and detailed. A brief but effective review can be as simple as writing to one or several of these suggestions:

  • What did you like or learn from this book?
  • How did it change your life?
  • Why the message is important for (parents/business leaders/doctors, etc.) to hear.
  • What was your favorite part/chapter/lesson?
  • What part made you laugh/cry, and why?


Sometimes we are given a book to review by an author/friend, and when you read it, you discover he didn’t have it edited or even proofread. His story is good, but it has errors in punctuation, grammar, and word usage. This gets kind of touchy because it is a friend, so you can choose to “ignore” the problems and focus on the things he did right.

Now say the author who asked you to review her book isn’t a friend. What do you do when it comes to giving stars for the book? Do you comment on the issues you found like typos, word usage, etc.—but at the same time you thought the information was excellent?

You can compliment and comment at the same time. You could write something like: “This author is very good at making his point and telling us information we can use, but the book would have been much improved with a good professional editing.”

When I used to write a lot of book reviews for a book review site, we were given a Star Review Guideline that looked like this:

5: Awesome book, well-written, good information/great plot and it is worth reading.

4: Good book that you’d highly recommend because it’s well written, has good information, good plot, but maybe the plot doesn’t sizzle—or the author didn’t back up his concepts with examples or case studies to give him more credentials.

3: Book that has a lot going for it, but some problems: maybe too much unnecessary violence or sex, maybe some inconsistency in writing. You like it but aren’t going to recommend it to others.

2: Poorly written—should have used an editor, poor plotting, inconsistent content, lack of clarity in many places.

1: Why bother posting the review because it was a waste of trees.

So the next time you are writing a review realize that someone else will be reviewing your book. We all hope for a 5-star review…and reviewers should be honest, but tactful and not mean-spirited. And, consider the trees in the equation!