Joanne Van Leerdam of “WordyNerdBird” provides us with an interesting and educating blog post about the wrong and right way to write a book review. Thank you very much Joanne!
This week I read a blog post that asserted there is no right or wrong way to write a book review. The writer made some good points, particularly about reviews needing to be individual and personal responses to a book, but I disagree with the basic premise of the article.
I am writing this post from the perspective of a reader, not an author, and I realise that some people won’t agree with me, so let me explain my reasons.
A book review should never recount the story of the book. It shouldn’t give spoilers. Yet time after time, I see reviews that do exactly that. My issue is that if I already know what is going to happen, I feel as though I no longer need to read the book. The joy of the journey has been neutralised. That review has effectively cost the author a sale.
You just hit publish, right? That’s what all the articles say. Any idiot can upload a book in minutes. And yes, I suppose any idiot can, but it takes a very informed, dedicated, professional and talented individual to upload a book that people will want to read. A recent Facebook post from a first-time author seeking advice made me realise how long I’ve been doing this self-publishing thang and how I’ve kind of taken for granted that everyone has ‘the knowledge’. There are so many blogs, articles and how-to books on the subject, and yet authors can still struggle with the basics. The first author asked what she should be doing in the run up to her launch and another suggested that while there is a lot of information out there, it’s almost overwhelming. Where do you start? Where does it end?? So in an effort to share said knowledge, I’m writing…
Writing can be one of the loneliest professions. Even if we’re not stuck away in the proverbial attic our quill pens or laptops are not the friendliest of company.
Luckily the ‘family’ of authors are one of the most supportive groups I’ve ever come across. Having been there, done that and bought the printing paper I’ve learnt that experienced, best selling, traditionally published scribblers are as likely to offer their advice and support as others still struggling to understand the vagaries of the Indie route.
Here’s a quick guide to writing a book and becoming an overnight success:
Have an idea.
Start typing (or writing) feeling inspired.
Get stuck half way through.
Finally type ‘The End.’
Sit back and wait to become famous.
Realise that’s not going to work.
Re-read your masterpiece and discover all the errors.
Lately, I’ve been asked by a fellow writer if I read his book and would be prepared to write a review. Even though I know how much work, effort, and heart blood a writer invests into books, I know as well, a writer is honored by a review. I was told this numerous times already. I read truckloads full of books since my childhood and of course, couldn’t review all of them. (Let’s not talk about the school book reports). And I found, even if I didn’t like a book too much, it wouldn’t be nice to ‘rip it to shreds.’ It might not be a bad book – just not the right book to read for me.
I liked what I read this time, and I agreed to write a review. If I only knew how to do so. This needed some research.
I started and found hundreds of articles, books, blog posts and lists. Are they all different? No, more the opposite! They all seem to be similar, some more simple, some more detailed, some complicated and long, with little variations. So I picked what I needed from some of them.
The purpose of a review
I find it very important to learn what exactly the purpose of what I’m writing is. What is a review for? One of the first articles, referring to “reviews” in general, more than book reviews, in particular, was written by Karol K, a freelance blogger, and writer. He writes:
to learn the pros and cons of a given product
to find out if the product is meant for them
to find out if the product is of high quality and easy to use
to find out about alternative solutions
to find out about other users’ experiences with the product
to ultimately learn if the product is worth buying.
With those needs in mind, let’s look at what you can do to craft a truly valuable review.
Neal Wooten, author, writer, blogger, and comedian published an article on the Huffington Post Website, using six tips to writing Amazon reviews and in my opinion did a great job. At least to me it seems valuable, especially considering the “start” use of the Amazon rating.
Additionally, he mentions something quite powerful: The responsibility that goes with writing a review. Let me give you a couple of examples I picked from his article:
What if a car manufacturer was to drop off a brand new car to a person’s home, completely at random, and explain they had 24 hours to drive the car? Afterward, they would take the car to another home at random and do the same thing, and repeat for three months. They only asked that the homeowners/drivers would write a review of the automobile. What do you think would happen?
I suspect most of the drivers would do exactly what they should. They would write intelligent and informative reviews about how it handled, how it drove, gas mileage, the comfort, the power, the sound system, etc.
But there would be some drivers who would abuse this privilege. It’s human nature. Some wouldn’t even drive the car. Some would complain about everything from the visors to the texture of the floor mats. Some would complain about the color of the free car they were provided. Some would get drunk, drive 100 mph, wreck the car, and then write a bad review.
And that sums up Amazon reader reviews. While most are very helpful, many are just people exercising their basic nature to be useless. So here are some tips.
You BET! I’m a writer myself, of course, I one day would like to get positive reviews for the book. I want to honor the author, his ideas, his talent, his magic, his story, his efforts, his work and his masterpiece. I want to make others read the book I loved so much. I don’t want to spoil it for the other readers.
I just found out on my friend Patricia Garcia’s blog, that one of the most wonderful books I’ve read the past few years, is on sale from August 26 through August 31, 2016.
“And the Whippoorwill sang”, written by Micki Peluso. Use the chance!