Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How to write a review

Every published writer writes about reviews. That is, their own reviews of their own works. I do that occasionally, too. In fact, my last blog was about a review I was very pleased with. I don’t like to hit people over the head with my reviews, though, so I don’t trumpet about each one. I guess this is because I dislike seeing all the notices of reviews in my networking streams. They’re not informative and there’s no reason for me to read them.

If I were casting about for something to read, I’m sure I’d feel differently. I would avidly read notices about reviews. If my To Be Read pile were less than 100 books, that is. (Those are physical books. There are more unread books and stories languishing on my e-reader.)

Every published writer who gets reviews also laments about the ones that aren’t favorable. Some of those bad reviews are legitimate complaints from the reader about confusing plot or character, or about an unsatisfactory ending, or about expecting one type of story and getting another. Some, on the other hand, are just sour grapes rants that have nothing to do with the quality of the book or story being reviewed. Let’s all discount that latter type! I’m sure most readers do.

I write reviews. Very seldom on Amazon or Goodreads, though I have a few there and hope to have a lot more in the future. My reviews appear in “Suspense Magazine” almost every month. I give my reviews a lot of thought. One thing I pride myself on is being able to read a book outside my comfort zone, or even in a genre I’m not interested in, and still be able to give it a competent review.

What are my goals for each of my reviews? They are to hook up the right readers to this work; to fairly and accurately stress the strong points of the project; to tell my review readers what the book is like so they can determine whether it will be a good read for them or not. If a reader of one of my reviews finds a new series or a new author--or a new stand alone novel--that they enjoy, my work has been done correctly!


  1. I think your review goal of connecting the right reader with the right book is great. One way to avoid those bad reviews authors hate is to avoid having people who would never enjoy your book read it in the first place.

    If someone is interested in a literary library, they shouldn't bother reading my mysteries, unless they are interested in a change-in-pace.

    ~ Jim

  2. I write very mediocre reviews on Goodreads. Even got one of those emails telling me I was high on the reviewer list. (???) My only intent is to say what I thought of the book.
    I never search reviews for recommendations. I hear about a book and go looking for reviews. I never read 5 stars, I don't need raves, I read the one star to see if they point out something I don't like. I wish the age of the protag was mandatory.
    Patg :)

  3. That's a good point about the age of the characters, Pat. I try to establish the genre and sub-genre at the beginning of the review, and the time period. Ages of the main characters would be helpful, too, I'm sure. Thanks!