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For Readers

Review Writing Made Easy – the 5 Questions Method

By: Hidden Gems on April 21, 2020

Hidden Gems Books ARC service.

By: Hidden Gems on April 21, 2020

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If the only thing stopping you from writing a review for a book you read, whether from us or anywhere else, is that you don’t know what to write, don’t give up just yet.  We have an idea that may help, and aside from buying an author’s books, there’s no better way to support them by regularly leaving them honest and quality reviews.  Remember – other potential readers use those reviews to help them decide whether to take a chance on a new book, so their importance to an author can’t be overstated. 


The best thing about being a subscriber to Hidden Gems is the opportunity to download and enjoy FREE eBooks from over 15 different genres – including the latest titles by USA Today and New York Times best selling authors. 

However, the reason these authors choose to send out all these free books is that they’re hoping that most of the readers will then decide to leave an honest review of their book on Amazon when they’re done. 

While this sounds easy enough, and the majority of our subscribers do regularly leave reviews for the books we send them, one of the things that stops some of the newer readers from doing so is that mental block of being faced with a blank review box – wondering just what to write! It’s the same problem a lot of authors face when they start a new story – staring at the blank screen, wondering where to even begin.

While we’ve posted tips before on what types of things to put into a review, even the more critical ones, some readers need just a little bit more help to get their review juices flowing. 

Well, we’ve got an idea that might help.

The ‘Five Question Method’ is a simple technique that can be applied to review writing that can make the process much easier. Essentially, this is a list of questions that makes it really easy to focus your thoughts and get valuable, meaningful reviews written; and all it takes is answering five simple questions. One sentence for each answer, and you’ve got a review finished – and the end result will be one that potential readers of that book will find useful when they’re making the decision whether or not to click ‘buy now.’

Of course, you can use whatever questions you like, but just coming up with those may be a stumbling block so allow us to make a suggestion.  You’re free to come up with your own or use these or mix and match – whatever is easiest for you. But as an example and to get you started, these would be our suggestions.

The questions are:

  1. Why did you choose to download and read this book – and don’t just say because it was free! Out of all the books Hidden Gems offers, why did you pick this one?
  2. What was the writing style like? Fast-paced? Slow and emotional? Etc…
  3. What was your favorite thing about this book? But please, don’t post spoilers!
  4. What would you like to see more of from this author in future books? Which elements should this author build on for future books?
  5. Would you read another title by this author, or recommend it to a friend?

Sounds too simple? That’s the point. Using these five questions as a focus for what you should write about in your review will make the whole thing much more straightforward.

Last week, we posted a video review on our YouTube channel, and that may be a good way to demonstrate how this system works. If we were using these five questions to write a review of The Black Freighter by Fred G. Baker, it might look a little like this:

I chose to download and read The Black Freighter because it was a spy thriller, and I’m a big fan of James Bond books. I found the writing style to be journalistic and fast-paced, just like Ian Fleming – but with a lot of attention to detail and some fantastic descriptions that really make you feel like you’re there. My favorite part of the book was the way the plot unfolded – giving us a little bit more information as we journey along, until it all explodes in the gripping climax. It’s a really solid spy thriller written in the style I love, without being derivative. I’d like more of the same in future books, but perhaps a little bit more about the main character’s backstory. I’m definitely planning to read more by Fred G. Baker, and I’ve already recommended this book to my friends.

All together, that’s a solid review – maybe not the most exciting one, but it provides a lot of useful information for a potential reader. And the best part? It took just a few minutes to write, and I really didn’t need to spend that much time thinking about the review, because the questions drew what I wanted to say out naturally.

  1. Why did you choose to download and read this book?
    • I chose to download and read The Black Freighter because it was a spy thriller, and I’m a big fan of James Bond books.
  2. What was the writing style like?
    • I found the writing style to be journalistic and fast-paced, just like Ian Fleming – but with a lot of attention to detail and some fantastic descriptions that really make you feel like you’re there.
  3. What was your favorite thing about this book?
    • My favorite part of the book was the way the plot unfolded – giving us a little bit more information as we journey along, until it all explodes in the gripping climax.
  4. What would you like to see more of from this author in future books?
    • It’s a really solid spy thriller written in the style I love, without being derivative. I’d like more of the same in future books, but perhaps a little bit more about the main character’s backstory.
  5. Would you read another title by this author, or recommend it to a friend?
    • I’m definitely planning to read more by Fred G. Baker, and I’ve already recommended this book to my friends.

All it took was a quick answer to each question – and using these five questions takes such a huge amount of executive decision making out of the process that a review which may have previously taken far longer to write (especially if you include procrastination time) now only takes a few minutes or seconds (depending on how fast you type).

So, next time you’re thinking about what sort of review to leave, consider using this method. It’ll make the whole process of writing it quicker and easier, and you’ll be supporting the author with a fully-realized, useful review that other potential readers will find really valuable.

With all of us stuck indoors for the foreseeable future, reading is going to be more and more of a welcome escape – so give authors the support to keep on writing by making sure you leave them a review on the books you read. It really helps them in so many ways, not the least of which gain more sales which then allows them to keep writing more books for us all to enjoy!


What do you think of this method? If you like it, leave a comment below! Or, if you think there are five better questions to ask yourself, tell us what they are!

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