Reviews can make or break a book (and author) on Amazon. What can authors do to get more reviews? What can readers do when leaving a review? It’s only 20 words – help out indie authors by leaving a review!

As one of the leading vendors of online publications, Amazon ratings are extremely important to an Indie (independent) author/publisher. I read books by independent authors more than any other kind of book. Most of my reading is done on my Kindle. I try to always return to Amazon and leave a review for the books that I read. A review doesn’t have to be a book report, just 20 short words and you’re out of there!

For Readers
Without reviews, a book on Amazon has a slim chance of rising in the ranks. Which means that it has a slim chance of becoming a success. Now there are certainly exceptions. The reviews of Fifty Shades of Gray are horrible! 90% of the reviews are negative. Yet, the book skyrocketed to the top of the bestseller’s list and the author has a movie deal now. Go figure. The publishing world has always been a crap shoot and still is.

How do readers choose a book? As a reader, think about how you choose a book while shopping on Amazon. Here are my top selling points:
1. The cover catches my eye.
2. The title sounds interesting.
3. The description is short but to the point. ( I personally hate long rambling descriptions.)
4. The book has more than 10 reviews and most of them are 4’s or 5’s.
Now, I have purchased books that had no reviews or bad reviews. That was because numbers 1-3 were so strong. I have yet to be disappointed.

So, the reader can’t always rely on the reviews to determine whether or not they should read the book.

Fake reviews are unfortunately out there. As a former provider on Elance and Guru, I can tell you that there are way too many authors who are willing to pay professional writers to write reviews for them. I have never and would never do such a thing. I personally would like to expose each and every one of those authors by going to their Amazon site and leaving a negative review.

Yeah, it really ticks me off. Anyway, READER BEWARE. Not all is what it seems.

I have also recently heard that some people actually hire people to go in and leave bad reviews. Why? To kill the author’s career….revenge for whatever, I suppose. People are sick.


It will take you less than two minutes, if that. Readers are the lifeblood of any author’s career. Your review means life or death to a book published by an Indie author.

Just do it! Amazon requires you to write at least 20 words in your review. That is not much really!

Your rating can make or break an author. Rate the book with 1-5 stars with 5 stars being excellent. This is not a movie rating! This star rating is the MOST important part of your review. Don’t give it 3 stars just because you realized you don’t like science fiction after all. Don’t give it 2 stars because it had a few typos. IMPORTANT: Anything under 4 stars can (will) kill the book for the author and greatly damage the author’s chance of getting this book anywhere.

Remember what your mama said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Unless the book is absolutely terrible and the author really needs to move into another line of work, please don’t rate a book under 4 stars. Indie authors have a hard enough road ahead of them without you taking a stab at them. Just let it go and don’t write a review at all.

On another note, if you do find a lot of typos in a book, or you have something to say about the book that you don’t want to put in a review, go to the author’s page and email them. Indie authors are so much more accessible than traditional authors. And they love to hear from their readers!


Find the book reviewers on Amazon. Look for the top reviewers and offer them a free copy of your book in exchange for a review.

Choose reviewers who typically review books that are similar to yours. One post I read suggested targeting 100-300 reviewers. If only a few of those actually respond to you, you will at least get a few reviews for your effort.

Find book reviewers who blog reviews and ask them to review your book on Amazon (and on their blogs).

Read more about asking for book reviews here.

Include comments outside of Amazon. If someone tells you that they like your book or sends you an email telling you how much they liked your book, ask them to post those thoughts on Amazon. Or, if they don’t want to take the time to do that, ask them for permission to post their comments on your websites.

Ask family, friends, and colleagues to review your book. Some professionals caution against using reviews from family and friends. A bad review from your second cousin could cause some friction within the family. A glowing review from your mom could appear contrived and hurt your credibility. Ask family and friends to not mention who they are in the review and ask those who don’t like the book to just not leave a review at all.

Don’t harass anyone after asking once. Not everyone will like your book. Family and friends who don’t like the book should feel comfortable about just not leaving a review at all if they didn’t care for the book. Hopefully, they will tell you privately! If you are constantly saying, “Why didn’t you leave a review?” “Are you going to leave a review?” etc., you are going to make people uncomfortable. Ask once and move on.

Don’t respond to negative reviews. It is hard! Resist the temptation, or at the very least, be professional when responding. Twice now I have received sarcastic comments rather than a book review. I answered both of them. The first time I answered back sarcastically. I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t resist. The second time I just ignored the guy. It wasn’t easy.

Report people who don’t leave a review but just comment with something totally irrelevant. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who never learned that it is actually NOT acceptable to say whatever you are thinking. Report them and let it go.

An excellent post about Amazon book reviews is here.

And finally, if you purchased one of my books, please consider popping over and leaving a review for me!

Thank you!

Tales of the Brooklyn Hobo is a haunting and engaging tale of the adventures of a Brooklyn man who sets out to explore the country and finds heartache, wonder, and a new sense of self in the Age of Aquarius. Tales of the Brooklyn Hobo chronicles Alex’s adventures as he hops a freight train in Nebraska, is harassed by the federales in Mexico, has a gun pulled on him by a tearful Oregonian cowboy, encounters God while tripping on LSD at Woodstock, and finds love in all the wrong places. Intermixed in the narrative of the past are journal entries (called Night Flights), which address the author’s struggle with Bipolar Disorder and drug addiction.



Summer Learning: Creative Ideas and Tools to Keep Your Child Learning All Summer Long

The tips in this book will help you not only hone your child’s study skills over the summer, they will also provide your child valuable tools to use throughout the school year and throughout their adult lives.




Lifetales Workbook

The Lifetales Workbook brings in over 20 years of experience of lecturing and teaching memoir workshops. The workbook includes tips on getting started, writing prompts to keep you writing, and tips and resources on book layout, publishing, and marketing your completed stories. Be a part of PRESERVING HISTORY…ONE LIFESTORY AT A TIME!



Writing Your Memoirs Workshop: A Manual for Instructors

Updated and expanded in 2012, the manual for instructors has more than ever resources to help lead memoir writing workshops in your community! Includes many tools for a potential instructor – how to find venues, how to advertise, what to charge, how to run the workshop, what to do after the workshop, and so much more! It includes sample handouts and sample promotional materials.

A helpful guide to help you get started leading workshops on memoir writing in your community. I have been leading workshops since 1998 and share with you my ideas, my research.


Poetry Writing Workshop: A Workbook for Students

This book describes easy to follow directions for creating poems that touch the heart. It includes writing exercises and prompts for traditional poems like the cinquain and haiku and more modern poetry like generated poems and found poetry. No matter what age you are, these exercises will show you how easy it is to jump into writing poetry! Written by English and Creative writing teachers for their students from middle school to adult.



The Mysterious Case (Episode 1 of the Time Card Series)

The Time Card series follows the adventures and fortunes of three friends – Blue, Jesse, and Ellie – as they use the contents of their newly found case to travel to diverse and exotic places. Their middle school studies come alive as they interact with historical figures of their country and the world, while at the same time struggling to not change the time-line or upset the course of history. Trying to hide the case from present day bullies, the friends try to stay one step ahead of their arch enemies Ryan Johnson and Jake Barker, not to mention sinister otherworld forces who are determined to find the time card.

Nothing ever happens in St Andrews, a sleepy little town in North Carolina. Nothing that is, until the appearance of a small tightly sealed metal case. Three middle school friends, 13 year-olds Australian-born Blue, and his neighbor Jesse, and Jesse’s 6th grade sister Ellie stumble upon the metal case in a creek while they are fishing. What’s inside it? How can they open it since it has no catches or hinges? There’s something in it, as they can feel the contents rolling around inside. The three friends lose badly when bullies confront them on the bus, but with the new case they’ve found, they just might be able turn things around in their favor if they can figure out how the case works.


Declaration Time (Episode 2 of the Time Card Series)

In this episode, the pilot of the craft that jettisoned the mysterious case meets with a mysterious Admiral and is tasked with retrieving the case before evil forces find it. On earth, Blue, Jesse, and Ellie accidently find themselves in 1776. After Jesse accidently changes the course of history, the friends must race to save Thomas Jefferson before the power runs out on their chronometer.