7 Tips on Writing a Review

I wrote this post a while ago, but have procrastinated in posting it. Truth is – I looooove reviewers. All of them. Book bloggers, wannabe book bloggers, occasional readers…my mother-in-law.  As an Indie author, I am extremely grateful for any review posted of my work, good or bad. Both of which I’ve had my fair share of lately. The fact that someone took the time to read my book is incredible. When they go one step further and share their opinion of my writing with the rest of the world, I am ecstatic.

Just to be clear, a bad review really does sting deep down inside. But after the initial blow, I come to appreciate them. They can provide constructive feedback and they offer a certain authenticity to the book. Besides, any publicity is better than no publicity…right? In fact, reviews I’ve read of other books rant and rave about the decisions a character made. Often, this can mean the reader became emotionally involved, and that is a good thing.

But there are reviews, and then there are good reviews. In my perfect world, this is how reviews would be done:

  1. Be honest, and write the review in your voice.
  2. Don’t start with the books blurb.  On sites such as Goodreads or Amazon, chances are the reader just read the blurb – they don’t need it repeated.  I do see the value in book bloggers including the blurb first on their site, however the review on your site doesn’t need to be a straight cut and paste into Goodreads.
  3. Start with the good.  Many of the reviews on my book start with the bad.  And don’t get me wrong – do include everything you want to say, just say something nice first.  On many sites, just the first few lines of the review is shown unless the reader clicks to expand.  That means when they are just skimming through all the reviews (which is very often what I do), only the first few lines have a chance to make an impression.
  4. Do say something nice.  The book has a pretty cover, the main character’s name is awesome, the author has good use of punctuation.  Pick one.  There has to be something nice you can say – especially if you finished the entire book.  To be honest, a review filled with snide or snarky remarks and nothing at all good to say will often be dismissed by your audience.
  5. Be a grown-up about it.  And this goes both ways – I’m looking at YOU, authors!  Chances are, at some point you are going to write a review that an author or someone else won’t appreciate.  If they choose to respond in a negative way, then they chose poorly.  Be the bigger person – don’t feed the fire.  Let it go; move on.  You have a lot of books on your TBR list anyway.  I have to mention a one-star review I received because of how much the reader hated my antagonist. I just wanted to respond – THAT’S THE POINT . Another reviewer gave me a low rating because the rape scene just wasn’t hard core enough. Wow, just wow, people. To each their own. It took a minute, but I didn’t respond. I moved on.
  6. Give the reader of the review something on which to reference.  Is this book like any you’ve ever read?  Which one?  Does this character remind you of someone?  Who?  If you want the reader to really connect with your reviews, give them something to connect with.
  7. If you are book blogger – get visual! Including the book cover goes without saying. But I love bloggers who take it one step further and include relevant pictures or even action emotions. Make the review fun! It should be as entertaining as the book was.

So there you have it. Bloggers, authors, and reviewers – what do you think? Have anything to add?

17 thoughts on “7 Tips on Writing a Review

  1. I wished all others felt the same as you. I am a blogger of mostly paranormal and I steeped out of my comfort zone and read a contemporary romance. For an other you writes in both genre’s I really enjoyed the 2 paranormal books that she wrote and I decided to read her contemporary when she asked me to do a review on it. I gave it a 3 star rating and now she will not speak to me. I feel horrible. I just rated in my honest opinion.

    • Thanks, Anna! It’s unfortunate that happened to you, but don’t take it personally. That author apparently was just looking for high ratings, not honest opinions. It’s her loss – your blog looks beautiful!

  2. I thoroughly agree, Terra. I would also add that reviewers should put on their agreement (written or non written) that they will not view other reviewers work until after they have written and published their review. It is only fair. it is truly a business arrangement after all (you are doing advertising in a sense for the author, one way or another, I think). I am about to put this on my blog (http://ironiclee.blogspot.com) so authors who wish a review will know where I stand. Great article.Lee Tyler

  3. I think many reviewers have their own way of writing review. Personally I hate pictures in reviews :p. I almost always write my reviews with three main points included: story, characters and world building. because those three points are important for me in a book. And well mostly I start with whatever comes to find first and why I decided to read the book, overal impression etc. I also love to end with a conclusion, for those reader who don’t want to read my whole (pretty often long) review, but still want to get the point.
    I do agree with you that you can always say somthing nice or at least why you decided to read the book. And being grown up about it is a very important point for both reviewers and authors. I also think you should never attack the author personally and make clear that it’s your point of view and others may disagree.

    • Very good points, Lolita! I think keeping it structured like you do is a good way to do it. That way your readers know what to expect out of a review, and you make sure to hit all the items that are important to you!

  4. Great post! I actually just got sent two books by indie authors who want reviews, and I’ve been trying to get inspiration for how to write the reviews. You’ve definitely helped, so thanks :)

  5. Great post!
    I usually loose interest when a review is so long and mostly on what’s happening on the book. I don’t want to know that much, I just want to know the like / dislike, good / bad points on the book.
    I’m not a very visual person so I find it hard to include pics on my reviews but I try to do that if I wanted to highlight an opinion, just to get my point across that much clearer.
    I think I will have to adopt point 6. I’ve been very successful so far in recommending books to friends (whose taste I know well) so it’ll be a good addition to my reviews. Thanks for the pointers :-)

  6. Rating systems usually don’t do anything for me. But I do like to know the genre, what book it is in the series, and what made the reader pick that book up in the first place. If a reviewer tends to get rude, crude, and vicious, I am not likely to take their review serious.

  7. These tips really came in handy for me. I’m going to apply these tips in my reviews. Now I know how to make my reviews better, because I just always feel like they need some improvement.

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