Book reviews are the bane of many authors’ existence, not for their negative remarks or hurtful nature, but mostly for the fact that many authors feel the frustration of not getting reviews in the first place. This is especially common among authors who run free book promotions or offer their titles for free or reduced prices as part of the KDP Select benefits. The complaint is the same…readers get the book, but never review it.
But Amazon launched a new way to leave a review through prepared choices in drop down menus. This feature begins with a simple three-answer question on the plot of the book: was it predictable, did it have some twists, or was it completely surprising. Answering that question opens up more drop downs about the character development, the pacing, and more.
Unfortunately, there’s no drop down menu for the quality of the writing, the quality of the editing, or more basic attributes of the book. These would apparently go in the provided space where the reader can type his own thoughts on the book. Not all books have the drop down review treatment at this time. Obviously, the questions that were offered don’t apply to non-fiction titles, for example, and several nonfic titles I looked at don’t offer any other drop down elaborations.
One of the chief concerns with this type of review process was raised by Henry Baum of Self-Publishing Review, and that is the canned response feeling of these reviews which will possibly lead to less informative (and therefore, less helpful) reviews. As you can see from SPR’s take on the drop down review process, Baum was offered far more drop downs–including the options to comment more than once on the author’s writing ability and the quality of the book–than I was on the twenty or so titles I searched through this drop down process. Even the self-published horror titles I inspected didn’t give me the option to select an answer pertaining to violence, sexual content, or other thematic elements.
If Amazon truly wants to encourage an atmosphere of dialogue on books and support readers’ efforts to leave a review, however, their first priority should be to make the process of inputting opinions more streamlined. Currently, a consumer goes to the sales page for the book after even remembering that he should review it, clicks on the number of reviews, then clicks on the option to see all the reviews, then clicks on Write a Review. All of this is after scanning the sales page looking for (and not finding) a giant button that simply says, “Leave a review.” Interestingly, the top of the screen will tell a consumer in rather small letters that he has already purchased the item, and that would be an excellent place to point out that a review is only one click away.