The subject of reviews and what makes a good qualified review has troubled me for some time (probably ever since I started receiving them on my own books!) Now I’m not about to start a whinge over my own book reviews as on the whole I’m very grateful for those readers who take the time to read and write reviews and in the main my reviews are looking good.
And I’m the same as many authors and look forward to the next review. But sometimes I really wonder about some of those so-called ‘reviewers’.
When above all else the purpose of a review is not to caress the author’s ego or put them down. A review is written so readers can ascertain the calibre of a book. By being given information and opinions on the book readers can make their own decision on whether they might want to buy and read that book.
So what should a reader look out for in a review? I know what I like to see included and below I’ve mentioned a few of my favourites.
First, I want to know that the genre is one I want to read. If it’s a genre I hate then I won’t read it, no matter how many 5 stars the review is given. The only exception here is when the book is remarkably different from others in its genre – then I might be tempted.
I like a brief description of the plot – just a few lines will do to hook me if it’s written well.
If the book is based on murder then it should say how blood thirsty the book is. Some people hate lurid scenes, some adore all that gore. I for one don’t. Other topics that should be mentioned in a review is whether there is religion, strong sex, politics and or distasteful subjects such as child molesting. To not include scenes like this might incur bad reviews from a purchaser. If I buy a book with good reviews then I want to know that I’m not going to be disappointed by reading some topics that are taboo for me. However, if some scenes such as I’ve mentioned do in fact further the plot then mention that too. As a reviewer, everyone has different likes and opinions. Someone you like/dislike may work in entirely the opposite way for another reader.
I believe a review should include something that stands out and is not mentioned in either another review or from the synopsis/book description. This might be the style of writing, the gentle humour or a quirky character which adds to the story.
I always think it’s nice if you can recommend this book to certain people – adults who like horror, romance, or which age groups it will apply to. If there is something that is going to be hated by some people then mention this and why, without giving the whole plot and story away
If the book is part of a series, then you can compare this with the others. Likewise if the writer has written other books, say how their characters and story flow (or not). Has the writer developed both characters and plot-line?
I like to know if I’m going to be hooked from the beginning with a fast-paced book or if I’m going to be drawn in gradually. Am I going to be entertained, educated, amazed by the pace, action, drama, originality and can I relate to the story in any way? Is it believable?
I love it when I have finished a book and yet I can’t get it out of my head. Share if this book has affected you in any way, either in a good or bad way as both are important.
And what do I hate to see in a review and believe adds nothing of value ? All too often I see reviews written by people who believe the following points add something and yet I truly believe they do nothing.
Being downright nasty about the author. You are reviewing the book, not the author.
Using rude comments. I won’t mention any here, but we’ve all seen them and some are outrageous. If you think the book is bad then use a kind word you can use and give your reason why you think the book is bad.Giving a reason/s is vitalbecause some readers’ ideas may be completely different from yours. From the author’s side, giving reasons for dislike may help them to improve future writing, but only if your logic is solid.
Sarcasm. What does this do except show up the reviewer?
Spoilers and destroying the book’s ending. After reading a book and then writing a review because you enjoyed it, part of the purpose of that review is to help the author sell extra copies. Don’t tell future readers the whole plot and essence of the story. No one will buy the book if they already know the ending or all the exciting stuff?
When mentioning the negatives include at least one positive comment in the review. There’s usually at least one likable thing in any story and someone might buy the book, purely due to that one positive comment you’ve made.
I think many reviewers forget that they should not be trying to persuade readers to read or not read the book; instead they should be telling them what they thought of the book. This means a reader can make their own informed personal decision to buy or not buy. There is a big difference.
And if a hate a book? This is dead easy. If I really think a book is appalling then I simply don’t review it.
If it’s that bad then whatever I write, it won’t serve the purpose a review is intended to serve. Readers don’t care if I hated the book; they just want to know if they will hate it too. And essentially that’s what your review would tell them. You can try softening a review, but usually it is better to ‘walk’ away and forget about it.
As a writer I receive reviews of all sorts, good and bad. It hurts when I receive a review which clearly indicates the reader has missed the point entirely or hasn’t even read beyond the first few pages. Or I don’t know what I’m talking about – I spend weeks in research and most of my work is first-knowledge. But what really pees me off is when I read a review from someone who can’t even spell let alone write!!
But when I read a new 4 or 5 star then, wow! It really makes my day! I am after all human like the rest of us.
So, please whether you’re a reader or writer, remember you are reviewing a book not the writer, and your job is to tell future readers what you thought of the book!
I've just sent my latest manuscript off to my editor, so fingers crossed she likes it and gives me the go ahead to publish hopefully next month!! Look out for 'Seeds of Time' and the follow-up 'Harvest'.
Happy reading everyone! And thanks for dropping in once again. Take care