Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. Book reviews are something every writer thrives upon. Reviews can make or break a book. And we all know the more reviews, the chances of the book being noticed increases.
Is there a right and a wrong way to write a book review? There are no magic formulas or specific formats to use. Some reviewers include a summary of the book, while others might quote a passage. However, I think we should adhere to a few simple guidelines.
1) It’s natural that our personal preferences influence our reviews. However, if science fiction or romance isn’t your forte, don’t buy books in those genres, then leave negative reviews based on that fact only. The book may be well written, have a captivating storyline, or fantastic world-building. Leaving a one or two-star review simply because you’re not a fan of a specific genre isn’t fair to the author.
2) Don’t post a bad review because the shipper didn’t deliver the book in a timely manner or the packaging was damaged. You’re reviewing the book, not the shipper. This is especially important when you’re buying a second-hand book which may not be in the condition promised. There are places to voice those complaints, but don’t take it out on the author.
3) If you don’t like a book, tell others why. I recently came across a one-star review in which a reviewer said, “I didn’t like this book.” To quote Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, “I don’t care!” The reviewer also made derogatory comments about self-published books, saying, “This means that the book was rejected by book publishing companies.” The funny thing? The book in question wasn’t self-published.
4) Keep it brief. You don’t have to write a dissertation. Try to limit your reviews to two or three paragraphs at most.
5) Tell other readers the reason for your rating, whether it’s good or bad.
6) This is a tough one. Many readers are also authors. We’ve built a circle of friends in the writing world and we want to support them. But are we doing one another favors by rating everything four and five stars? Authors who truly want to improve their work will look at the negative reviews (as long as they’re constructive criticism) to see if they can learn from them.
7) Avoid the inclusion of spoilers. Don’t ruin the story for potential readers. If you think you must write something about the book’s ending, preface your review with a warning, “Spoiler Included,” or something to that effect. Goodreads has the option to note that for reviews posted on their site.
These are just a few tips on writing book reviews. What would you add? Please share in the comments.