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Reader! The Game’s Afoot!

Have I got a game for you! You will master the ultimate algorithm, the one that conceals from you the books you love, the writers you want to see more from.  This is your day, the day you will take command of the Amazon algorithm and make it do your bidding, release it from its subservience to major publishers and fake reviews, and bring unto yourself all the glory of the liberator.

Your secret weapon? The review.

If you want your favorite writers to succeed, by bringing their stories, information, or artistry (yes–graphic novels are books) to more readers, they need reviews.

Have you noticed, if you search for a book a friend has told you about, but it wasn’t a best-seller, that you had to work hard to find it? That’s because your friend’s recommended book didn’t have enough reviews. Amazon doesn’t like books without a lot of reviews. The great god Bezos promotes only those with at least a couple of dozen reviews. (The true trigger value is a secret, but statisticians tell us that roughly 25 is absolutely necessary to make it into search.) So tell your friend to write a review. Write one yourself.

It’s not hard.

Here are some qualifying reviews:

An actual review, from Smashwords

“I read this book. It was nice. It had characters in it and I liked some of them.”

“This is a useful book with information in it.”

“Shipped quickly and arrived in good condition.”

I know. Really? Really.

Algorithms do not care if you, the reviewer, have the time and energy to craft a New York Times Book Section Review. Besides, if you did that, the paper should pay you, right?

Click on “Edit” to pick a cute reviewer name

Are you shy? (I am, so I understand.) Did you know that in your Amazon settings you can give yourself a reviewer pseudonym? There’s a little Edit button right next to your name at the top of the review page.

Now that you’re ready, start with the easiest gift you can give that writer you like. Post a quick note that you read the book, you liked it (and no, you don’t have to give it five stars, but, please, don’t take off stars if the site you’re posting to had trouble shipping it or the bookseller sent a copy that wasn’t quite whole–that’s a job for the complaints desk, not the review box).

That gets you to Level 1 of Review, The Game. <Sparkling fireworks appear>

Wanna go to Level 2?

Help out your fellow readers. What will they enjoy when they try this book? Add a few sentences to your review to let others know what it was you liked and to give some hints about the content. Is it a wild, exciting adventure tale? A romance that made you cry? A self-help book that made a difference in your life? For fiction, if you’re going to reveal plot points, your fellow readers ask that you put such reveals below a simple message, “Spoiler Alert.” It’s OK to share spoilers, just let the sensitive ones know it’s time to skip.

This kind of review may end up being a paragraph or an essay, whatever you want.

Bing! You’ve achieved Level 2! Congratulations!!! <Shower of fluttery butterfly confetti>

OK, grab a fresh cup of whatever. You’re going to level up again. You’re hooked on this game, now, right?

This level’s easy. You’ve already written your review. Now, spread it around. Amazon isn’t the only place you go for books, right? Go to Barnes and Noble, find the book there, and post the same review. If you bought on Smashwords, do the same there (they want reviews only from their own buyers, but the price points are great if you like digital.)

The super-easy review page on Rakuten Kobo.

Visit Rakuten Kobo and connect with the international market! Did you know there’s a “Write a Review” button on Google Books? Have you an account on any other bookstore sites, like indigo.ca? You own your review; you can post it wherever you like–on your blog, or your Facebook page, or your Twitter feed, even.

DingDingDingDingDing! Level 3 Mastered. <Cascade of shiny shimmeryjewel-toned sprites>

Relax. You got this.

Go to Goodreads. If you are not already a member, now’s the time to find all the friends you never knew you had. Let yourself roam the stacks, build your virtual pile of books you have read, that you plan to read, that you’re currently reading. Once you come up for air, find the book you’re reviewing, and drop that commentary here. You have found your most appreciative audience. Note that on Goodreads, you can make your fav writer happy by just putting their book on your to-read list.

See? Goodreads lets fans announce they plan to read a book, or drop a happy five-star rating, or share their opinions and insights on the book in a review.

You are home. Stir yourself up a lovely cup of hot cocoa.

Bask in the warmth of Level 4. You have achieved nirvana. You no longer need . . .

Sure you do. <Tremendous fanfare of victory! Coruscating fusillade of fireworks! Thundering drumrolls! Rainbow confetti made of actual rainbows!>

Across your game screen, the following banner floats, surrounded by pink and purple and gold hearts and stars:

Your Writers Love You Soooooo Much

They really do.

Now, go read another book.

Oh, if by some chance it’s my book you’re thinking of reviewing, here are the links to go straight to the places I mentioned above:

Amazon (This takes you directly to the review form.)

Barnes and Noble (Scroll down until you see the Customer Reviews section, then click to add yours.)

Smashwords: (Smashwords wants you to purchase the book there. Scroll down to the review section to add a review.)

Rakuten Kobo (Just page down a bit to the Write Your Review button.)

Google (Yes, a direct link to the review form.)

Are you in Canada? Then you know indigo books! Have an account on indigo.ca? (Look for “Write a Review” button just below the book specs.)

Êtes-vous en France? Mon livre est sur amazon.fr. (Partagez votre opinion avec les autres clients. Écrire un commentaire client.)

And, of course:

See you on Goodreads! (This is a direct link to the review form.)