People Will Leave Reviews…If They Actually Make It To The End Of Your Book

A few months ago, I started seeing a ton of reviews popping up on my books on Amazon. Reviews from total strangers.

And I wasn’t even asking for the reviews. They were just showing up.

Then I discovered that Amazon added a new feature to Kindle where, after you finish reading a book, it pops up a message and asks you to leave a review. (I also recently started adding a “note from the author” at the end of my books, asking people to leave a review if they enjoyed the book.)

But here’s the thing about getting more reviews. Something really, really key that a lot of writers forget about.

People will only leave reviews if they actually make it to the end of your book.

No one leaves a review on a book they started and never finished. No one leaves a review on a book that didn’t keep their attention or that didn’t make them walk away feeling like they enjoyed their experience.

And they’ll only see the message from Amazon, asking them to leave a review, if they get that far.

This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself as an author: is my book engaging enough that the person reading it will read all the way to the end AND have liked what they read so much they will take the extra few minutes to leave a review?

If you’re not getting enough reviews right now–or any–there’s a good chance it’s because no one is making it to the end of your books.

I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. But I am saying it to wake you up to the fact that you may need to take a serious look at what you’re putting out there and whether or not it’s actually any good.

Some things to consider:

Did you hire a good content editor who actually knew what they were doing? Did you listen to the feedback and suggestions from said content editor? Or did you just take it upon yourself to think that you know what you’re doing and you don’t need to listen to the editor?

Or maybe you didn’t hire a content editor at all, and instead assumed your book was good enough because you’ve read hundreds of novels so obviously you can write a novel? (Not true, by the way.)

Did you find Beta Readers–who aren’t friends with or related to you–to check the book out before you published it? Does the book have an actual plot and story structure? Or is it an episodic narrative of a character’s day-to-day life?

Did you give the reader something to sink their teeth into? Was the book actionable? Did it give them information they could take away and use right now in their own lives?

Does the book actually have an ending that’s satisfying to the reader? Or does the ending come as a total disappointment or not even actually feel like an ending because nothing really gets resolved?

All of these are errors I see writers and authors making. And it’s a big part of the reason why no one reads, finishes or leaves reviews on their books.

Harsh? Maybe. But I’m hoping it’s also a reality check for what it really takes to write a book that gets reviews. And not bad reviews, but 4- and 5-star reviews. Rave reviews. Reviews that say the person loved the book so much they couldn’t put it down or it totally changed their life and way of thinking and being.

What it all comes down to is knowing the craft of what you’re writing and doing due dil to bring the best possible story or nonfiction book to your readers. It means stepping into the identity of the pro writer you want to be and treating your book with the same care and professionalism that you’d get with a traditional publisher.

Because when you self-publish, you are the publisher. And readers will still hold your book to the same standards that they hold books that come from traditional publishers.

A reader may not know the difference between a traditionally published book and a self-published book, but if you don’t do a great job with your book, they will be able to tell that something is off. Because stories require certain principles and criteria.

And readers have read enough books to know when a story (or nonfiction book) doesn’t work.

You’ll never fool your readers into enjoying your book if it doesn’t fit the principles and criteria of storytelling. For people who read a lot of books, even if they can’t tell you what’s wrong with the story, they will still have an innate sense of whether it’s good or not.

And even your beautiful prose will do nothing for you if your story isn’t compelling, engaging and cohesive. Beautiful prose is important, but it’s not the most important thing.

That’s why books without beautiful prose will still hit the bestseller lists and gain a huge readership and get turned into movies. Because it’s about the story more than it is about how beautiful the prose is.

Many people think Stephenie Meyer is a horrible writer. And I agree that her writing style is pretty basic. But her storytelling ability is so great readers can see right past the simple words and even cliche ways of describing stuff.

None of that matters when the story is awesome. When the story is awesome the beautiful prose is just icing on the cake.

But beautiful prose will never save a story that doesn’t work.

Dream life or bust,



#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. I have 3 spots available right now for private story coaching. If you’re ready to take the idea in your head and turn it into a fully developed story plan with structure and a scene-by-scene roadmap that you can use to write your first draft… and not just any first draft, but a first draft that’s a revision and edit away from being publishable, send me a PM (private message) right now and let’s get this show on the road.

Write is a Verb–An Interview with Author Bill O’Hanlon (Part 1)

Bill O’Hanlon has written or co-written 29 books, including a book for procrastinating writers called Write Is a Verb: Sit Down, Start Writing, No Excuses.

O’Hanlon is a Licensed Mental Health Professional, Certified Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He speaks regularly about writing and offers intensive seminars for people who want to write books and get them published.

JB: Bill, in your opinion, why do writers procrastinate?

BO: Writers procrastinate for several reasons typically, although there are probably some individual variations not included here.

  • Fear… of failure, of rejection, of success, of not getting published;
  • Being busy;
  • Inertia-not writing begets not writing like writing begets writing;
  • Avoidance; of uncomfortable feelings; of hard work.

JB: How does perfectionism play a part in writing procrastination?

BO: For some people, perfectionism plays a large or the whole part. Not for others.

I had a couple of friends I came across at a bar at the end of a conference at which I was speaking. When I walked up to them, they said, “Get out of here, O’Hanlon. We’re just discussing how come we can’t write our first book and you have written so many.”

I asked them what was in the way. They were both psychologists and told me it had been drilled into them in their graduate training that they must know everything about the area in which they were writing before they began writing. I laughed and said that I wouldn’t have written one book if I had that same standard.

I write my books after learning or knowing a lot about a subject, but not everything. And occasionally I get some things wrong. But readers almost always correct me and I get it right the next time I write about that subject.

JB: What are some steps writers can take to eliminate perfectionism?

BO: Start writing. Even if the conditions are not perfect. Even if you don’t yet know enough; even if you don’t feel like writing.

I’m a big believer that writing solves many problems for writers (not always; sometimes you begin writing the wrong thing or you begin before you are truly ready, but those problems are more rare than writers not ready when they do have the right project and they are truly ready).

JB: What are some steps procrastinators can take to start writing?

BO: I hate to sound like a broken record, but:


People who haven’t been published have this idea that published writers somehow have some special ingredient that magically gets writing done, but one of the main things that distinguishes the consistently published writer from the non-published writer is that the published writer writes and completes projects.

Non-published writers do many things other than writing: they dream about being a writer; they tell themselves it is too hard to get published or get an agent; they do lots of things besides writing.

So I repeat: START WRITING. Even if you only write one word per day, keep writing. Until you finish. Then edit and re-write. If that book doesn’t sell, write another one.

Like Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers) and Geoff Colvin (Talent is Overrated), expertise and success are often a matter of putting in hours practicing and getting better at whatever you do.

Come back to the Procrastinating Writers Blog tomorrow morning for part two of my interview with the inspiring Bill O’Hanlon.

Review: Write Is A Verb

This is by far the BEST book I’ve come across on getting writing done (and I’ve read a lot of them)! As a full-time (well, almost) procrastinator, I had been putting off my writing FOREVER!! But after reading Bill’s book, I am happy to say that I am 16 chapters into my novel, and hope to be finished in the next couple weeks!
The difference this book made for me was this–Bill says that it’s ok to work in increments, rather than forcing yourself to spend hours upon hours writing. He suggested starting with 15 minutes of writing time a day and working your way up from there.
The other major thing that made a difference for me was–Bill says that writers should do what works for them, not what works for other writers. Each writer is unique and has a specific way of getting things done. I used to beat myself up because I’d sit down and write something, then I’d find out it was full of holes, and rather than editing it, I just tossed it aside. But not anymore! Bill made me realize that it’s ok to do things how I need to do them.
I was always under the impression that to get writing done you had to do like I was taught in all my creative writing classes–just sit down and start typing away. But that doesn’t work for me. For me, plotting the story out ahead of time works. And not only does it work, but it keeps me from having enormous plot holes and makes the whole writing and editing process a breeze.
If it weren’t for Bill’s book, I may have never realized that it’s ok to do things my way. If you’re looking to get your writing done…pick up Write Is A Verb, by Bill O’Hanlon.