How to Write a Book Review
As most of you know, I’ve recently launched my second novel, MISTS OF BAYOU RHYNE. Yes, thank you, thank you. And as most of you know, one of the hardest – but oh so important – things to get is a review. I’ve been told over and over again how much a reader has enjoyed my book, how they can’t wait for the next, and how they wish they could share it with everyone they know. Well, you my dear reader, can!
All you have to do is give the book a review.
That’s it. Your review is worth a thousand words. J (Like that?)
When I tell this to my potential reviewers they return with the inevitable “I don’t know how to write a review. I never know what to say.” “I don’t know how to give a review. I never know what to say.”
Maybe this will help. When I give a book review I think of it as a critique of sorts. I read the book through as a reader, simply for pure pleasure (hopefully). When it’s time for my review, I think of the following:
Opening comments – What did I find appealing about the story?
Plot – Was the plot believable? Was it easy to follow? Was the story long or short enough to support the plot? Was I satisfied with the plot resolution? Were the subplots, if any, natural and interesting?
Pacing – Did the pace of the story leave me satisfied or did I find myself rushed or bored?
Description – Were the descriptions vivid or did they leave me hanging? How about too little or too much description? Did I feel forced to delve up my own idea of who, what, where, when, and why? Was there variety in the vocabulary to keep me from skimming?
Point of View – Was the point of view consistent? If the point of view changed (which I don’t like when it happens), did I feel that the change was a good one? Did the point of view ever change too abruptly, leaving me confused?
Characters – Did the characters seem real enough with unique and distinguishable personalities? Was I able to form a connection to them?
Dialogue – Was the dialogue natural and believable? Was each character’s dialog consistent with their characterization? Was there too much or too little dialog? Were there any tedious monologues?
Grammar and Spelling – Were there any serious grammar and/or spelling issues?
Closing comments – What is my overall opinion of the story?
Though not all of my reviews are favorable they are positive and I’ve received only positive comments from writers when I review this way.
What if I have to give a bad review?
First of all we should remember that the work we’ve just read was painstakingly written by someone who put themselves and their work out into the world. This is something not done lightly. It’s difficult for writers to let people read their work and criticize it. Their blood, sweat, and tears most likely went into it, and probably years as well.
With that said – I DON’T GIVE BAD REVIEWS. I don’t believe anyone should. What I think we should remember – whether reader or writer – is that reviews and critiques are subjective. It all comes down to opinion. My opinion is my own, just as your opinion is yours. The right to have an opinion does not make the opinion right.The right to have an opinion does not make the opinion right. I’m not out to change anyone else’s opinion on a writer’s piece of work, but simply to add mine to the mix.
What if I’ve committed to writing a review?
If I’ve committed to giving a review, say due to a review exchange or a receipt of a book for free with a promise of a review, and I find that I really didn’t like the book, I simply say it wasn’t for me. I’ll elaborate further by weaving the negatives with the positives in a way that hopefully shows the story in its best possible light.
There will be negative comments, but they should be stated in a diplomatic manner so as not to insult, but to enlighten. Nothing burns me up more than when I go to Amazon and read a review on a book that I thoroughly enjoyed only to see a 1 star review left by someone who clearly is hyped up on their all mighty power horse. Their comments are often written in an uneducated form riddled with ridicule and spite. If you don’t like the book then either review it with compassion, or don’t review it at all.
If I feel a book is worth less than 3 stars I don’t review it. If I must review it and feel that I cannot conscientiously give it a 3 or better, then I will most always email the writer privately and explain my view. Most writers respect this, though they may not like it, and understand that I am trying to show them respect by not posting an unfavorable review.
If you share your opinion with sensitivity and compassion, it will mean more to everyone and it will show you in a much more favorable light as well.
As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Don’t forget to join the blog, or better yet, join my mailing list to be kept up on, and share in, all the new and exciting things coming my way.
Keep on scribbling!