What’s in a Review Anyways?


It’s almost time to post my first indie author book review and I am stoked.

Seriously, I’m bouncing off my keyboard and chair here…

But, before I do post that first review, I started getting nervous.

Dun, dun, dun! Okay, fine. Not nervous, just concerned. Looking back on all the reviews I have received (which I always try to glean some improvement out of) I started to wonder…

What should be in a review anyways?

There are the basics:

  • Synopsis
  • Pretty picture of the cover
  • Author name
  • Where to get the book
  • The rating

But then the tendencies vary…

reviews for indie authors by a. wrightonSome reviewers break it down into pros (likes) and cons (dislikes). I call them the Listers.

Some reviewers break down a whole summary with a paragraph at the end summarizing their feelings. I call them the Summarizers.

Some reviewers break it down by component – characters, plot, drama, genre, etc., etc. which, by the way, is more like the coverage I provide to my clients. I call them the Piecers.

Some reviewers provide the basics and then comment on how they’d fix things. I call them the Prescribers.


And so, I got to thinking, which do I want to be? All of them have their merits, some more than others, but which really help the reader and the author? So, as I tend to do when I’m thinking, I scribbled down a list.

Author’s note: If you think of something I have missed, please add a comment below!

What Readers want out of a review:

  • Idea of what the book is about – even more than what the back cover blurb gives.
  • Idea of what the book can be compared to, so they can tell if they’ll like it. For example, my Dragonics & Runics series was called a mix of the Sword of Truth series with Star Wars and a dash of the Hunger Games.
  • Idea of whether or not they should run to get the book, or wait.
  • Ideally, they want their appetite whetted for a new, exciting read.

What Authors want out of a review:

  • 59kmo1Publicity and promotion.
  • Exposure.
  • An incentive for readers to pick up their book.
  • Compliments (We all know it is true. We love reading that someone liked the result of our sweat, blood, and tears.)
  • Constructive criticism (Okay, we don’t want that, but we need it. We should all strive to improve off of the things mentioned in reviews. Now, I don’t mean change your writing style or storytelling style, just the things you can and should change.)
  • A zingy catch-phrase that they can quote and use for generating buzz.


Okay, I thought, I’ve got this! I can do that! But then…

I started thinking about how to rate books.

There’s the star system, the number system, and the grade system.

Personally, I enjoy not being in school anymore and I am not any indie author’s teacher, so I get a bit on edge with the letter grading system for reviews. So, cross that one off the list. The number system is too mathematical for my literary mind, so that one is out, too.

That leaves the star system.

And that also brings about the point that everyone has a different understanding and concept of what 5 stars means.

Does it mean, WOW! This is awesome! It should be on everyone’s bookshelf!

Or, does it mean, This is the work of a literary master (meaning only the likes of Hemingway, Anne Rice, Austen, Faulkner, Tolkien, etc.)

If you think about it, it’s really not fair to compare most authors to the great masters of our craft. But then, shouldn’t we all have something to strive for?

You can see my head-banging-against-the-keyboard-problem here.

But, then I decided I would combine the must-haves in a review with the rating system. And, now, to get to the main point of this entire post…


Let me introduce the key to my indie author review rating system.

There will be 7 categories that will be rated on a 5 star system and then averaged for the final rating.

Even the Caped Crusader would approve!
  • Style – this will be my opinion of the writing voice, storytelling style, and mannerisms conveyed by the author.
  • Story – this will be my opinion of the plot, conflict, suspense, resolution, subplots, and general fun found within the story itself.
  • Characters – this will be my opinion of all levels of characters, how well fleshed out they are according to their roles, and their appeal/believability.
  • Genre – this will be my opinion of how well this book falls in line with its genre book-mates.
  • Connection – this will be my opinion of how connected a reader can get to the story and its characters.
  • Technical – this will be my opinion of the technicalities of the produced novel itself like punctuation, grammar, formatting. (No book is flawless, you can find several errors in best sellers, so that will be taken into mind here.)
  • Desirability – this will be my opinion of how fast you need to get off your duff and grab this book.


Once I’ve rated all seven categories, with explanations, and provided the must-haves of any review, I’ll add a few final parting shots and reveal the averaged final rating.

Hopefully this, will appease both the Reader and Author and make my reviews, something more than just an ordinary yay or nay!

Stay tuned, the first reviews are incoming! And, if you’d like to request a review, just click here and fill out the form.

And, if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to place a few entries in the giveaway to win Kindle copies of both Defiance: Dragonics & Runics Part I and Allegiance: Dragonics & Runics Part II
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