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Properly Review a Book


Book reviews are important to authors, especially if they are posted to Amazon. If you get fifty or more reviews, your book is given more visibility. It will show up in the “if you like this book, check out these books” area. Your book will appear in those many emails sent out by Amazon for people to try based on their reading preferences. In other words, getting reviews, especially good reviews, on Amazon is a ticket to what amounts to free advertising.

That’s why when an author receives a less than stellar review on their book and it’s not for the content or having seen multiple grammar/proofreading errors, they are concerned. Far too many authors have come to me recently and asked, “Why are reviewers saying my book isn’t formatted properly?” “Why are they saying the cover art is all wrong and that I need to change it?”
Authors actively seek reviewers for their books but lately have found the book blogging community reluctant to post reviews on Amazon. That’s because of a new policy about the reviewer having to be verified as a purchaser. Or they may review if they received a copy of your book for an honest review, but the wording must be exact at the end of the review: “A copy of this book was provided for an honest review.”
For years, I’ve told my authors to seek out the blogger/reviewer community. They have always been open to books from indie/self-published authors or small publishers. Their presence has aided many an author not affiliated with the Big 5 in getting the reviews necessary to attract attention.
In recent months, an ugly specter has arisen. A small, almost miniscule, group of blogger reviewers who are acting more like a teacher in a classroom and are marking down books for reasons that were once forbidden territory for a reviewer.
I’ve been in this game as an author for a long time. During this time, I spent a few months with the blogger/reviewer community. One thing that was stressed was that we reviewed a book on its content, on the story itself. We weren’t to comment on formatting or cover art, as they weren’t part of the story. Yet, recently, it appears reviewers have switched tactics and are doing this.
A book review is meant to convey to potential readers what is contained within the covers of the book without giving away important plot points, also known as spoilers. A reviewer should give a short overall impression of the book and then talk about their experience… Was it good? Did they enjoy the book? What did they find wrong with it?
There are things a reviewer shouldn’t do when giving their review. One of these things is to say the cover art isn’t right and the author needs to change it so the reader gets a better sense of what the book is about. Cover art is a very personal thing. Authors often spend a great deal of money having that made, or if they are with a publisher, that company works hard to produce cover art that reflects the content of the book. Nowhere in this area is a reviewer involved. It’s not their job to say they hate the cover art and it should immediately be changed to this.
Formatting, especially with a publishing company, is set. The publisher has a certain format they use. They are not going to change their formatting to meet the desires of each reviewer who doesn’t like it. To knock down an overall rating of a book because you don’t like the formatting feels very petty.
All an author is looking for in a review is an opinion of the story. To create panic by bashing their carefully selected cover art or formatting is petty, something I never thought I’d see in the dedicated blogger/reviewer community. Oh, I’m not saying all blogger/reviewers do this. In fact, it’s a very small number of these individuals who have taken on this tactic. Most of these blogger/reviewers are dedicated individuals who work without pay to let the reading public know about books from indie authors or small publishing companies. Those people I salute and say continue your excellent job.
All I’m asking is those people who feel it’s their place to pepper a review with put downs about cover art and formatting take a step back and think about the damage they’re doing to the author. In most instances, the changes these individuals are seeking won’t happen, especially if the author is with a small publisher. And your review indicating that the cover art and formatting are all wrong has now put a stigma on their book.


Born and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.
She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Those who know her best will tell you that nothing is safe or sacred when she is observing real life. In fact, she considers any situation she witnesses as fair game when plotting a new story. 







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