It was a proposition I couldn't refuse. An author had just published a book on self-publishing and asked if I'd like a free copy. But there was a catch. In return I had to agree to do an amazon.com book review. Since I was writing a book and was considering self-publishing I agreed immediately. A decade and 228 amazon.com book reviews later I'm still at it and love every minute.
The reasons are many. My favorite books concern personal transformation and are written by adventuresome, deeply spiritual, dynamic, funny, curious, wise people. Doing a review is a way to remember what they said. I want to see, feel and hear what they experienced.
As a author I have deep gratitude to the people who took the time to do a review of my book, “Earth, the Forgotten Temple: A Spirit Quest in the Wilderness.”
Topics range from dealing with loss, growing old with grace, remarkable friendships with animals, living mindfully, managing stress, living in the present, letting go of fears and resentments, learning to say no, setting clear boundaries, connecting with nature, embracing the wealth of everyday life, knowing what is enough and leaving room for spirituality, contemplation, inner peace, joy, gratitude and forgiveness.
I also enjoy outdoor travel and adventure books about hiking, biking, backpacking, sailing and living or traveling around the globe. Stories of life, death and survival at sea or on the earth's highest mountain peaks also fascinate me.
My reviews are less about opinions and more about the experiences and lessons I learned from the writers. I love to include the voice of the author via quotes. In 1998 I was honored to be selected to be in Amazon.com's Vine Voice Program. The program allows you to choose up to four recently released books a month from a list of over 300 from their newsletter. The books and the shipping costs are free. To qualify for the program your reviews must have over a certain number of helpful votes.
If amazon.com intended to increase the number of books I reviewed each year they succeeded. I read over 60 books in 2010 and wrote a review on every one them. It's a lot of work but fun.
Authors occasionally send me a book in exchange for a review. I only agree if their topic matches my interests. I sometimes get a thank you note or update from the author on Facebook or Authorsden.com. I recently received a fascinating self-help book from an author in England. He asked me to post his review on Amazon.co.uk. I was surprised as I was unaware that amazon had an online store in the U.K. I posted his review on amazon.co.uk along with some of my other reviews.
Because amazon.co.uk is new and has fewer book reviews my 117 book reviews with 214 helpful votes since November 2010 gave me a top reviewer ranking of 796. To my surprise I was honored to learn I was a top 1,000 amazon.co.uk book reviewer as of mid November 2011.
In the U.S. it took me 228 book reviews since May 2000 with 1,726 helpful votes to receive a top book reviewer ranking of 1,746.
Doing book reviews for amazon.com has been an amazing journey. It's always a challenge to distill a complicated life, journey and message into a tiny summary that embodies the spirit of the author. I feel truly blessed that I have the opportunity to see through the eyes of other authors and be a voice for their wisdom.