”Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own.” – Gina Greenlee. One sure way to be a successful author is by learning from reviews of other people’s books. The start key is by finding books of the same genre as yours. For example, if you are a fiction writer, it would be subtle to consider the book reviews of William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, or Danielle Steel, to mention but a few. They do not have to be the best seller books; you can learn from reviews of any book. In this post, I will show you how to use them to your advantage.

What Readers loved about the book

Enthusiastic readers will comment on what was the driving force to reading the book, reasons why they could not stop thinking about it. For example, in the reviews of the book: The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman, one reader, The Press (Stuff.co.nz), says, ”…the characters are engaging and sometimes bring you to tears, even the dogs caught up in the crisis can draw out a sympathetic reader sniffle. Norman has created a terrific suspense novel…”. The review clearly shows the specific characteristics that are important to this reader. From many other reviews, you can get in the readers’ minds and make your book a best seller.

What Readers didn’t like about the book

Winston Churchill says, Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. Negative book reviews are a representation of what readers would love done differently. A brilliant author will take advantage of a bad review, especially of other people, to improve her writing skills. Even the best of books sometimes receive negative reviews. Take, for example, the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling’s, Harold Bloom critics the book saying, ”Rowling’s mind is so governed by clichés and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.” Indicating that some readers are impressed with non-monotonous writing styles.

Reasons for giving 5-star reviews

More often than not, 5 – star reviews are an indicator of success. Some of the characteristics that contribute to a 5 – star review include but not limited to;

  1. Legibility: The book should capture the reader’s attention from the beginning. It should be in a simple, well-structured manner.
  2. Content: It is, without a doubt, the storyline determines a book’s success.
  3. Authenticity: A well-written book should be original. Creative and innovative.

Reasons for giving 1-star

Several books have received negative reviews otherwise indicated as 1 – star. Surprisingly, some of the best writers started with negative reviews. You might want to avoid some of these things in your book:

  1. A poorly structured story, depicted by a weak title and boring chapter beginnings.
  2. Writing the same story told since the beginning of time in the same way with zero creativity.
  3. A predictable story, with no suspense, will almost always put off readers.

Giving Feedback

Besides Reviews, readers will give feedback on their general feel of the book. The feedback section allows writers to converse with the readers. One way to connect with the readers is to take into account their feedback. Pick a few of the books in your genre, and through their feedback, you can improve on your performance.


Learning from other people’s reviews will show you how readers think and review your book. But, ”…do not let compliments go to your head and criticism to your heart…” Roy T. Bennet. We should take both compliments and negative reviews to create better versions of our books. I will help you carry out an activity and evaluate your book ratings. Download a worksheet here www.fictionshifter.co.uk/reviewanalysis. All the best.

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