Here’s the first of the reviewing myths that needs busting: there’s a surprising number of people out there who think that a review needs to be a complex essay, analysing every aspect of the author’s writing and which classical authors impacted their style.
Not so. Some people, usually book bloggers who review constantly and so have a lot of experience to draw on, may have a lot to say about a book, and that kind of detailed feedback is a precious thing to any author. However, in general terms, and certainly as far as Amazon’s algorithms go, a simple one-liner carries just as much weight as that professional review. Probably more, if the one-liner also happens to be from a verified purchaser. So don’t hold off leaving a review because you can’t think of a moving eulogy to that character that rocked your world. ‘Couldn’t put it down’ works just fine.
Another of my pet, favourite reviewing myths: The author will hate me forever if I tell them what I really think.
I’ve gotta go with Dr. Seuss here: more or less, them as matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter. Getting negative feedback is part of any type of art. 99.9% of authors are not fragile flowers, and either their shoulders are broad enough to shrug it off, or, in the case of a valid point, to learn from it. The .01% that will try to start a flamedown because someone didn’t get on with their story are going to have very stressful careers. The best thing to do is touch your cap to them and walk on around.
Conversely, the ‘Ah, what’s the point? No one will notice anyway’ feeling is also more common than I’d thought. If you’re reviewing Twilight, maybe yes. If you’re reviewing pretty much anything that hasn’t hit international bestseller status, quite the contrary. The author will notice. Other people wondering whether or not to buy will notice. The website software will notice.
A book review is one place that your opinion, good or bad, cannot fail to make a difference to someone.