So You Want To Be A Reviewer?
With only a few hours left until nanowrimo and a lot of assignments to work on, I decided to pull out a draft post that I’ve had close to finished for about a week, waiting for just this kind of situation. So, on with the post!
Okay, confession time: despite being a voracious reader and often rating books on goodreads, I don’t review books. Every now and then I will grab onto the idea of doing so and going into a frenzy of trying to work out what I want to review and, more importantly, what I want to say. Then, by the time I’ve finished the book, I have already given up on the idea of actually posting a review. This is one of the many, many reasons why I admire those people who generously donate their time to review books for the rest of us.
That said, while I don’t write reviews myself, I have read enough of them and articles on how to write them that I thought I’d collect all that knowledge
- any misunderstandings about the product should not be mentioned unless it is an easy mistake to make or the book/blurbs are deliberately misleading
- Practice – some reviews will be better than others. Don’t worry; if you don’t want anyone to see it, they don’t have to
- Draft and edit – just like any other piece of writing
- Have an opinion on the book
- Know why you hold those opinions and explain them
- Make any of your biases as explicit as possible – genres, clichés and so on inform quite a lot of the perception of the book, and potential readers need to know
- Remember that your target audience is people considering whether or not to buy the book, not the author
- Read other reviewers, see what does and doesn’t work for them
- Label the review clearly, particularly if you’re reviewing many different genres
- Bear in mind whether you are reviewing a book or an author’s body of of work as they are two completely different things and may change the direction of the review
There has also been quite a lot of discussion lately about author’s who track down reviewers who give the book a “bad” review. Quite frankly, there is nothing that I want to say on the subject so I encourage you to read the article and the comments because I have nothing to add on the subject itself except advice for readers who, god forbid, find themselves in that (very rare) situation. My advice, as an author, is this:
- Be polite and courteous - just because they are behaving badly, doesn’t mean you should too
- Don’t ever feel pressured or threatened – they are way out of line. If they are threatening online, it is just the same as if they had seen you on the street and came right up to you to threaten you about your review
- You reviewed their book, not them – basically, don’t feel the need to change your review just because they are polite; that is a completely separate issue to the quality of the book itself
- Harassment is the same online and offline – if they keep emailing you ask them to stop. If they don’t, stop replying. If they keep spamming you, block them. If they move the harassment to a public website, contact the administrators and explain the problem. Usually, they will find some way to limit the author’s use of the website
- If you do end up changing the review, know three things: 1) it only encourages them by thinking that it works, 2) your readers will be basing whether they want to read the book or not on the review (and do you really want them to read a book you didn’t like just because the author is harassing you?) and 3) why you decided to do so and whether you’re okay with that reason
- DO NOT make your review worse, for the same reason as the third point: you’re reviewing the book, not the author’s personality. At most, maybe edit it to include a note that the author has attempted to effect the outcome of the review and that readers should bear that in mind when reading other reviews
Hope that some of you are inspired to go out and write some reviews. I’m trying to do so by working my way up from short three line reviews on goodreads until I feel ready to write a full review. Anyway, I’m of to assignment (it’s a verb now, haven’t you heard?) and the to start nanowrimo. *squee*