The Art of the Review…

I decided to do a post from a READER’s perspective today regarding reviews.  As I troll around Amazon, looking at other books in my genre that I might want to check out, I read a LOT of the reviews left by customers.  It has been interesting to say the least.  It made me reflect of WHY I buy the books I do, and what I think should be incorporated into a review to make it helpful to the buyer.

I read a fair amount, and what typically reels me in and makes me want to buy a book is the cover.  I’m a sucker for a great cover…not too busy, not too graphic, not too NAKED (really, I have an imagination, I don’t need you to plaster some meathead on the cover to make me swoon).  If a book makes it past that round of cuts, the next stop is the novel summary on the back.  If that doesn’t interest me, or there’s too much info – I’m out.  Lastly, if all goes well with round two, I look at the customer reviews, and I mean LOOK at them.  I like to read the 5 star ones as well as whatever the lowest ratings are to see why people loved or hated the book.  What I’ve learned over time is that some people are GREAT at leaving reviews, while others are…well…not so much.  With this in mind, I’ve decided to lay out the five basic rules of HOW to write a quality review.

Rule #1- Saying you LOVE the book is helpful, it shows that you’re passionate about what you just read, but it gives me nothing to go on.  Tell me WHY you love it!  Was it the writing?  The characters?  The story?  All of the above?  Give me SOMETHING to work with!

Rule #2- If you HATE a book and feel you need to tell the world about it, make sure that you hate it because it’s horrible, NOT because someone coerced you into reading a book that just wasn’t your thing.  That happens…it doesn’t make the book bad, it’s makes it a bad choice for you.

Rule #3- If you HATE a book that promised to be the kind of book that you typically like, tell me WHY it was so awful that you’re taking the time to slam it on amazon or  wherever it is that you’re leaving the review.  I need details.  Was it poorly written?  Grammatical errors?  Hard to follow?  Weak plot?  Annoying characters, and if so, WHY were they so annoying?  If you give some level of detail as to why you couldn’t stand it, it may help guide readers who have similar hang-ups as you away from a book they won’t like.  GIVE REASONS!

Rule #4- Don’t prattle on forever about every sordid detail, good or bad.  If your review is longer than the novel, it’s too long.

Rule #5- DON’T GIVE AWAY THE STORY!  This is my personal pet peeve when it comes to reviews.  If there is some part of the story that is clearly part of the fun of reading it, don’t give it away in your review.  Facts about the characters or events that shape the story line should not be given away under ANY circumstance.  If you’re not clever enough to know how to talk around those details, then just keep it vague for the customer’s sake as well as the author’s.

If you follow these five basics steps in the future you will ensure that you’re leaving a productive piece of information for fellow consumers to turn to.  The reality is that your opinion is still just that, and people will buy what they think will be entertaining.  For anyone who has read books from the NY Times Bestsellers list, you’ll know that popularity doesn’t always guarantee quality, but don’t get me wrong…I’d LOVE to be on that list one day 🙂

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2 thoughts on “The Art of the Review…

  1. I think we have similar opinions…and thoughts…I’m in the midst of a discussion on my own process and have shared Your blog post on my latest blog entry at Book Reader’s Heaven! Would love to have you participate in some way!

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