Choose your own adventure

Posted On April 17, 2021

Photo by Michele Venne

I hinted at this back in the fall, so time to follow up on my idea! The Internet and online retailers have changed how people shop. Personally, I don’t order much online. Sometimes I get stuff from the feed store, and sometimes I order through a retailer that offers the same items but usually at a cheaper price. Throughout this past year, I’ve continued to go to the grocery store instead of sending them my order for pick-up or delivery, though I’ve heard positive reports from shoppers about their experience with these options. And how do we know if others have had a positive experience with a store or restaurant or service or product? We read the reviews.

Some brick and mortar shops encourage us to “go online and leave a review, and you have the chance to win X, Y, or Z!” Sometimes a review window pops up to ask us about our online shopping experience as soon as we click the “buy now” button. I’ve purchased and not purchased, gone to or stayed away from, used or not used services and products based on testimonials and reviews others have left about their experience. Interesting that we place a certain amount of trust in the words and recommendations of strangers.

And it’s those reviews and stars left by strangers about books they’ve read that sometimes have us clicking the “buy now” button. Amazon and other retailers even ask if a review is helpful. In the world of book buying, reviews are coveted, wished for, and needed. Not only do reviews help with sales, they also allow the author to participate in promotions so readers can find their books, they give authors a certain status such as “NY Times Best-Selling Author”, and they offer authors feedback on their books. On the other end, reviews help readers find books they’re interested in, they find authors they like, and readers can connect with authors and groups with a shared interest. 

When I finish reading a book, I go to GoodReads and leave a review. Sometimes it’s just a star rating. Sometimes I feel like the author and other readers might find my opinion worthwhile. When I’ve asked people if they leave reviews for products and services, they say they’re more likely to tell others about an awful experience than a pleasant one. I understand that. We want to warn others away from a similar unfortunate fate. But I think it’s important to let others know we had a wonderful experience as well. How do we do that? Writing a review is the biggest hurdle people claim to sharing their experience. They don’t know what to write, how to word their thoughts, how detailed the review should be, or what the stars mean. Hence, my “Choose Your Own Adventure!”

Do you remember reading those books as a kid? I loved them! However, I was the reader who went back and read the other options, too! Because reviews are important for both authors and readers, and because many people aren’t sure what to include in a review, I’m offering a few for you to choose from. Copy and paste these into a document and keep them handy. When you finish a book, copy and paste one of these into a review box, make a few tweaks, and press submit. It’s that easy! Read a book that was fun, but you don’t have much to say about it? Choose the first option. Did you really love a book, the story and characters or a how-to that changed your life? Then share the last “adventure” for others who might look at the book.

As far as stars go, I’ve been told by readers that they won’t leave anything less than three stars. If they didn’t like a book, they either don’t finish reading it or don’t click the stars or leave a review. Leaving a one or two-star rating tells other readers that you didn’t enjoy the book, that it didn’t live up to the description, that you wouldn’t recommend it. Clicking on three stars says, “Sure, it was okay.” A four or five-star rating shares with others that you liked the book (or really liked it!) and suggest others give it a try. We know art is subjective, but a book that has several one and two-star ratings likely isn’t going to get in our cart. The opposite is also true. If lots of readers give the book four or five stars, then we’re likely to find we like the book as well.

I’ve read reviews that share the whodunit. No, that review isn’t helpful. A review sharing that the ending didn’t tie up the story, the book was full of typos, the reader found the clues too convenient, or they didn’t like all the cliches, is helpful. Readers often search for reviews that say the story was enjoyable, it was a surprise for being free or discounted or from an author they hadn’t read before, the ending made them sigh with happiness, or the situations the characters were in made them laugh out loud. Sometimes just a few words saying the book was a wonderful read or that the reader was disappointed is enough to encourage, or discourage, others.

Choose an adventure and share your review!

1) I (enjoyed/was disappointed in) reading this book. It made me (laugh/wish/hope/think/cry). I recommend it if you’re looking to (escape/learn _______/laugh/relate to the character/be bored).

2) I (loved/disliked/couldn’t put down/enjoyed) this book. The author tells a(n) (good/likable/bad/entertaining) story. I (liked/didn’t like) the (characters/setting/circumstances/details) the author used. I (will/won’t) be reading another book by the author.

3) (Title) is a book (children/young adults/women/men/most people/some) will (like/not enjoy). The characters are (likable/horrible/engaging/predictable). It is set in/on (historical times/today/the future/another planet/[name of country/town]), and the details the author included (are accurate/need more research/are rich/are distracting). I (didn’t like/enjoyed/followed/related to) the situations the characters found themselves in. This is a(n) (page-turning/boring/exciting/adventurous/dramatic/confusing) story of (love/family/war/history/friendship/romance). I (recommend/don’t recommend) this book for a(n) (quick/easy/deep/enjoyable/boring) read.

4) (Title) by (Author) is a(n) (amazing/fantastic/awful/so-so) read. I (have/haven’t) read books by (Author) before, [and was (entertained/informed/confused/disappointed)]. So, I was (eager/interested/disappointed/hopeful) to read this story. I found this book, compared to the previous one, to be (better/worse/engaging/helpful/just as entertaining/more exciting/well written). The characters were (better/worse/engaging/exciting/likable/disappointing/predictable), even though the story was (better/worse/more adventurous/more charming/less exciting/just as entertaining/equally informative) than the one I read before. I think (author) has a way of (storytelling/describing/creating characters/boring the reader) that many readers would find (enjoyable/entertaining/likable/a waste of time). The (best/worst) part of this book is/are the (characters/setting/dialogue/details/word choice/author style/mystery/crime/emotions/intimate scenes between characters/pacing). I (would/wouldn’t) recommend (Title) or (Author) to a reader interested in (action-adventure/romance/science fiction/fantasy/history/mystery/crimes/family drama/memoir/self-help/how-to).

Have an idea for another “adventure”? Let me know in a reply!

Written by Michele Venne

Writer of immersive and intriguing stories.

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