If You Give a Mouse a Review: plus 5 book Giveaway

Years ago, I was a restaurant reviewer for a local newspaper.  My husband and I would dine at a restaurant like regular customers.  At the end of the meal, I’d pull out my card and announce that the restaurant had just been reviewed.

Once I became known, restaurant managers and owners offered me free meals and other bribes in exchange for reviews.  In order to write a fair and unbiased review, I never accepted anything free (though I must admit the costly bottle of champagne challenged my integrity), but you can’t blame anyone for trying. Restaurants depend on reviews for survival.  So do writers.

Whereas a single review in a newspaper or online can increase business for an eatery, writers needs a number of book reviews to notice a difference in sales.  In recent years, writers have lost important review outlets such as Romantic Times.  Now writers must depend on reader reviews on outlets like Amazon and Goodreads and those are not easy to come by.

Oh, sure, writers can pay review services and many bestselling writers do just that.  But the services don’t come cheap and there’s no guarantee that enough reviews will be provided to offset the costs.

Why All the Fuss About Book Reviews?

  1. Reviews offer writers greater visibility and a better chance of being found. Also, many promotional sites require a certain number of reviews before an author can use the service.
  2. A study conducted by the Northwestern University found that people bought products based on popularity, meaning the most reviews. Oddly enough, the reviews didn’t even have to be good.  Products with a lot of bad reviews sold more than products with fewer but better reviews.  (With that criteria, even a mouse could become popular if given enough reviews.)   
  3. It doesn’t take much. 20-50   reviews are enough to give consumers confidence enough in the product to purchase it.

Why don’t more readers leave book reviews?  According to my unscientific survey among friends and family, here are the top excuses, oops I mean reasons, for not leaving a review.

I didn’t purchase it from Amazon

Amazon allows reviews whether the book was purchased from them or not. If purchased from Amazon, it will say verified purchase.  Amazon does have an instinct for sniffing out reviews by a writer’s family members and friends (okay, you can’t blame me for trying), but otherwise anyone can review a book.

 I’m not a writer

You may not be a writer, but we writers value your words.  You don’t have to write anything fancy and you certainly don’t have to compete with a professional reviewer. I liked this book because….is a good start. Or maybe you didn’t like it as much as the author’s earlier works.  Honesty is always best when writing a review.  If you simply can’t bring yourself to write one, you can locate the book on Amazon, find the review that is closest to expressing your thoughts and click on “helpful.”  Yep, in the wondrous and sometimes confusing world of Amazon algorithms, “likes” and “helpfuls” count.

Don’t have time

I heard this one from someone who had recently won a free book from an online contest. I’m sure most winners don’t think about the time it takes the author to package and mail a book. Also, books don’t come free.  The writer probably paid for the book out of her own money, not to mention postage.  But writers do this willingly hoping the winner likes the book enough to recommend it to her friends, and yes, give it an online review. 

 My one review won’t make a difference

 Oh, but it does, it does, and we fillies appreciate readers who take the time to post reviews. You’ve helped contribute to the success of our books and we can’t thank you enough.

So how important are reviews to you in choosing books, movies, restaurants or Amazon purchases?

 Okay, now here’s the good part. Post a comment and you could be one of five winners to receive a copy of my new release The Cowboy Meets His Match—yep five.  BUT (yep, there’s a catch!) I’m going to ask for the very thing most writers are too embarrassed to ask for: All I’m asking in return is that winners consider posting a review of the book.  Yee-Haw!

 

Amazon

B&N

 

Margaret Brownley
Margaret has published more than 46 books and is a N.Y. Times Bestselling author and two-time Romance Writers of America Rita Finalist. She writes historical novels set--where else?--in the Old West! She has written for a day time soap and is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.
Updated: June 19, 2019 — 9:24 am

81 Comments

  1. Doesn’t matter if I get the book from the library, Buy it or win it I always post a review I try to hit the main one’s amazon, Goodreads and Bookbub.

    1. Kim, you’re great! Thank you for all that you do.

  2. Margaret- I love this. If you ask some of the other Fillies and my friends they will tell you, I am an avid reviewer. I also push my friends and family to leave reviews. You can ask them, I am sometime a burr under their skin about leaving a review. Dang Amazon however will no longer take my reviews as they say I’m too close to the person or product. I even ordered a present for my husband one time and Amazon emailed me wanting a review on my purchase, then immediately said they can accept, I’m too close to the product. I’m still trying to figure out how I’m related to an inanimate object. Ha ha!!
    But I am a reviewer on Amazon, Bookbulb, Netgalley, and FB.
    I love writing reviews and take extreme pride in writing them the best I can, hoping my review will spark someone into wanting to read the book!
    Thank you the amazing blog here, now my friends can read what I’ve been saying, reviews are important to you authors.
    Love & hugs from KS.
    Oh BTW, here’s a review I wrote on your story in an anthology I read.

    A Texas Ranger For Christmas by Margaret Brownley is spectacular. She definitely caught my attention with her wonderful Christmas story.
    Cole Bradshaw, a Texas Ranger is on a mission he dreads more than anything, to deliver news that one of his own men has left his wife a widow.
    Sadie has her hands full raising her baby, Adam, keeping her farm from falling down around her ankles, as well as keeping foxes and other predictors from coming around.
    Sadie and Cole had the perfect chemistry, as these two lost souls found comfort, courage, and love from one another.
    Oh Yes, she was in trouble. Big trouble. And Sadie didn’t have the slightest idea what to do.
    So grab a hot cup of cocoa and get ready to see what Christmas givings transpire.

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      You are the absolute best at writing reviews and also the best at promoting your favorite authors! I’m surprised more authors don’t send you books just so you promote them!

      1. Hi Stephanie, please don’t give anyone ideas. I have my hands full! LOL

    2. Tonya, wow, you’re every author’s dream! Thank you so much for your great review of my story. You’re the one who is spectacular!

  3. Oh and I forgot to put Goodreads, that’s my fav spot to review.

  4. I do write reviews sometimes, but if I did it all the time, it would take the fun out of reading.

    1. That’s funny Debra, we are opposites, for me writing a review is one of the fun parts of finishing a book.

    2. Hi Debra, interesting. I haven’t heard this one before. I’ll have to think about that.

  5. I try to write a review maybe not every time , but if a book had really touched me I definitely leave a review.. I leave one on Amazon and also share to Goodreads. I’m not very good with words sometimes and don’t feel I can give the book the best review it deserves . After reading your blog I will definitely try harder to leave a review that’s for sure !!

    1. Hi Rose, don’t worry about the words. Just the fact that you take the time to write a review means a lot. Sometimes the simple, heartfelt reviews are best. 🙂

  6. I love your post! Thank you for sharing! I read reviews and I write reviews. Reviews are very helpful in choosing a book to read and I understand how helpful they are to the writer.

    1. Melanie, thank you for bringing up something I neglected to point out in my post; reviews are helpful to readers. It’s a two-way street.

  7. I feel like I need to apologize. Does a like on Facebook count, or jawing with fellow campers asking what I’m reading and having me go on and on about this terrific author I’m reading such as yourself? I’ve not felt eloquent enough to write a review … but I will give it a shot sometime in the future. I thank you all for your generous gift giving to us your readers. There is great delight in receiving a book in the mail.

    1. I don’t get excited to write them either. I never know what to say.

      1. Hi Sabrina, I hear this a lot. It took me a while to get it out of my head that a book review was not a book report that we had to write in school (which I inevitably failed). All you have to say is why you liked (or didn’t like) the book. Keep it short and simple and you’ll make your favorite author smile.

    2. Hi Kathy, no apology needed. Word-of-mouth is great, too. Judging by your post, you’re more than eloquent, so I hope you do give it a shot. Yee-haw!

  8. I write a review now and then, especially if I won the book.

    1. Good for you, Estella! The authors really appreciate it.

  9. Hi Margaret!

    I’d love to read one of your novels in the future and Review it. I’m a slow reader and behind on my TBR list atm but keep me in mind! Right now I’m in a Bookclub I created and we are reading, “On a Summer Tide,” by Suzanne Woods Fisher. We are reading 2 Chapters a week and discussing it. THat’s the speed I’m comfortable reading right now with my health (which goes back and forth). Def keep me in mind! HUGS Have a great day!

    1. Hi Sabrina, thank you. Would you mind asking the members of your book club to consider leaving a review of Suzanne’s book on Amazon?

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    I rarely read other people’s reviews on a book before I read it myself. I’ve only been reading again for going on 3 years after decades of not reading so most of the 238 books I’ve read have been highly recommended to me and/or given to me. If I come across a book from an author I know I love I just get the book without reading the blurb even. After I’ve read a book I may read a few reviews to decide what I’m going to write on my review. I do review all my books on Goodreada and need to get better about posting them on Amazon and elsewhere.

    I do read reviews on Amazon before I purchase an item I’ve never used before though. It always amazes me how things from books to kitchen gadgets and everything in between can get anywhere from a 1 star to a 5 star.

    1. Hi Stephanie, the great thing about reviews is you can use the same review on Amazon that you wrote for Goodreads. I’m always amazed at the star system. Someone once gave me a one star review because the book was damaged in the mail.

  11. I post reviews on Amazon all the time. If I think of it I’ll post on Goodreads.

  12. This is a good post. One I think that needs to be brought up periodically. I love to read, and I know how much it takes to write a book (cue someone I know). So for me, it is just right that I post a review, either large or small. The only ones I have trouble writing a review for are those books that I could not finish for one reason or another. Then it is usually just a one sentence about something I did like.
    Thank you for sharing today.
    Yes, I am up to leaving you a review.

    1. Hi Lori, I always start a book hoping to love it and I agree: the ones you can’t finish are the hardest to review and I usually don’t. Thank you for sharing.

  13. I would love to post a review for the book!!! Reviews are one of the things I like to depend on when I’m looking into a new book. Thanks for reminding us of how important it is!

    1. You’re welcome, Cori. And thank you!

  14. Margaret nailed it. She is so right about the importance of reviews. Many buyers of ANYTHING (myself, included) use and enjoy a product without taking the time to even think about why they enjoyed it. A review truly only needs to be a couple of sentences. No book report necessary.

    1. Pam, thank you for mentioning book reports. I wished we’d been taught how to write a review in school rather than a book report. Now THAT would have been helpful.

  15. Wonderful, wonderful post, Margaret. Reviews are so important to writers and readers alike! Thank you for sharing such a timely reminder.

  16. For all the readers who’ve responded here, I have a question. Are you offended if an author asks you to write a review when she sends you a book you’ve won? I’m always so worried I’ll come off as pushy if I ask them to leave a review.

    1. One author sent a note and asked if I could post on five different sites. I thought that was a little pushy. I did post my review on Goodreads.

      1. Hi Maryann, yes, that does seem a bit pushy, but I’m sure the author didn’t mean to sound that way.

      2. I agree Maryann, that is a little much. Thanks for answering my question.

    2. If you’re a regular reader and follow that author and her page and posts, I don’t feel like it is necessary to ask to write a review. If you took the time to enter a contest or leave comments, then you are obviously excited about reading the book and would do so.

      1. Hi Linda, Thank you for your comments. We’re constantly being told to ask for reviews, but I’m not comfortable doing so. I’m really going out on a limb today.

    3. Excellent question, Julie. I wonder that myself. I’m looking forward to the answers.

  17. I am a lover of the reviews I read reviews on almost all of my amazon purchases! So I am getting a lot better at posting book reviews !

  18. I review all the books I read on Goodreads. Sometimes the author will say they like my review. As readers I feel it’s the least we can do when a writer pours their heart and soul into each book they write.

    1. Maryann, thank you for doing that. And if you feel up to it, you can post the same review on Amazon. That way you review does double-duty!

  19. I don’t usually read a book based on reviews, and sometimes I avoid reading them so that I don’t get a preconceived idea of the book before I’ve read it, but I leave a review for every book I read. Posts like this and those written by other authors have made me realize that it is important. It’s unfortunate that numbers play such a big part and that Amazon seems to be in charge of practically everything these days, but it is a small thing for me to take a few minutes and rather than just tell friends and family or think to myself what I enjoyed about a book to also write those thoughts down. I usually post to Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and NetGalley if the book came through them. As you say, it took the author time to write the book, and if I’ve won it, whether directly from the author or via a publisher someone has taken the time to send it to me. I remind myself that I’m not a professional reviewer, not expected to be, and just a few words can be enough. Thanks for writing your books and this wonderful site.

    1. Oh, my goodness, Sally. You really are the review queen! Thank you for all that you do!

  20. I’ve been a reader all my life, but never left reviews until I started being an influencer for some authors. I didn’t know you could interact with authors until about two years ago and now I review all my books.

    1. Linda, that’s great. Writers like interacting with readers, too! Thank you for all that you do.

  21. I have been leaving reviews since getting my first kindle – prior to that no idea about doing so!

    1. Teresa, that’s terrific. Amazon sure has changed the publishing world. Thank you for sharing!

  22. I don’t post reviews often but I do ask my public library buy a copy of a book I want toread though. 99.9% of the tim it does.

  23. That’s another great way to help your favorite authors! Thank you for doing that.

  24. Reviews are important, and I will look at them if I’m not familiar with an author.

    I have to be careful leaving reviews on Amazon–their algorithms are so thorough. Lots of friends have lost privileges. They sometimes deny reviews to those of us leaving a lot of them. I’m not paid for reviews–that violates the TOS for Amazon. If your Amazon account is linked to social media, they can track, so I removed that option.

    1. Hi Denise, I’m still trying to figure out the algorithms. I’ve had readers tell me their review was not posted and we couldn’t figure out why. There’s nothing like being tracked by Amazon.

    2. Denise, I too am still figuring out the algorithm stuff and it’s mind boggling. Thanks for your comment about removing the option of linking Amazon to your social media!

      1. I agree. That was a great tip. Thank you, Denise.

  25. Hi, yes, reviews are very important to authors, that’s what gets people interested in their books! Whenever I purchase something I read what the people have to say about the purchase I am going to make, some are right and some aren’t , but that gives me an idea about the product.

    1. Thanks for sharing, Alicia. Actually, I enjoy reading reviews and some are pretty funny.

  26. Margaret, a lot of folks don’t know that I used to be a reviewer for The Book Rack, a national newsletter that went out to bookstores all over the country. I had a lot of fun doing that job and met a lot of authors! In fact, from that, I became a writer. Reviews were serious business back then. Amazon wasn’t what it is today, the internet was in its infancy, so yeah, reviews were harder to come by. But the thing that amazed me was how grateful the authors were for my reviews. You’d think I’d just given them a bag of cash or something. They loved reading my reviews because they were different and fun. Nowadays I’m so busy writing that sometimes I forget to leave a review. Thanks for the reminder! And I bought The Cowboy Meets His Match at a local store last weekend and am reading it now. Rest assured I’ll be sure to leave a review! 🙂

    1. Kit, I remember The Book Rack and it was great. I liked it because you could carry it in your purse. Thank you so much for reading my book and I would be ever so grateful for a review.

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    i post my reviews on goodreads, everytime i try to do it on amazon, it never shows,

    1. Hi Elaine, you’re not the first person to have that problem. Not sure why.

  28. I always post a review for every book I read! I work with enough authors to know that they work REALLY hard at what they do and it’s the least I can do to help them! So, I can promise that if I win your book, I will definitely review it! I post reviews on several platforms too, not just Amazon. I know Amazon is the biggest but I go to other places too 🙂

  29. Hooray for you, Valri! On behalf of writers everywhere, I’m sending you a great big thank you!

  30. I loved your thoughts on writing reviews. I always try to write a review whenever I finish a book. The reason is because I have bought books from new-to-me authors solely based on reviews. I’d never read their work before, but they had amazing reviews and I’ve found some really wonderful authors that way. Besides, when I’m looking to buy a product, especially on Amazon, I always read reviews first. So I understand that reviews are essential! And not only are they helpful for other readers, but I feel it’s important to let the author know how much you love their work. 🙂

    1. Britney, thank you for sharing. It’s heartening to see how many readers post reviews. I’m sure your favorite authors really appreciate you.

  31. Margaret, Thank you for sharing your thoughts on reviews. I struggle in this area.

    1. Caryl, you’re not alone, so don’t feel bad.

  32. I’ve tried leaving reviews on Amazon, but they don’t let me. I only use gift cards on there, and every time I try to review, a message pops up that I haven’t spent enough $$ on their site. I’ve put over (guesstimate) $200, but it doesn’t count. So, I know for a fact Amazon doesn’t let everyone post! However, I do reviews on Goodreads, Bookbub, and tell my friends on my FB page!!

    1. Hi Trudy, that’s really odd. I never heard that a dollar amount is necessary to review. Amazon aside, thank you for posting elsewhere.

    2. I try to leave a review I am with you Trudy on the Amazon thing they wont let a person leave a review if you have not spent a certain amount on there site ! Thank you Margaret for this amazing giveaway!

      1. Hi Sarah, Trudy’s information was new to me. Thank you for sharing.

  33. I try to leave a review of almost every book I read. I’d be glad to write a review of your book if I’m the winner. Thanks for the chance.

  34. Book reviews are somewhat important to me when I’m deciding to buy a book. But if a friend recommends a book to me, that’s even better. For about the last yr, or so, I’ve been trying to leave a short book review on Gooodreads.com on all the books that I read during that yr.

    1. Laurel, yes, word of mouth is great. Thank you for all that you do.

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    Wow, this is so awesome of you to let us win one of your books. As for me I always try to review all the books, ebooks and audio books that I read or listen to. Although I know sometimes it slips my mind but I always try to go back and write the review as soon as I am able to. Thank you so much for this wonderful chance!

    1. Alma, thank you for all that you do! 🙂

  36. I may not do the best about reviews but l rate it and say if it is good for me and try to say things that make others want to read.

    1. Jean, thank you. Word of mouth still works, even today.

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