Divas On Writing: Writing Effective Book Reviews
On the blog we have covered many topics on writing your novel, but we haven’t talked about writing reviews of books. Reviewers need love, too. Speaking as a book reviewer, I know how hard it can be to write an effective review that has a good balance of criticism and praise. And that is just what I aim to do when I write an official review for my blog. I try to stay true to that balance without being a cheerleader. I have found that while authors love positive and rah-rah reviews that do nothing but stroke their egos and cement in their minds that their books are precious gems, it’s the reviews with a little more substance that stick with them and help them grow as writers.
I may have sounded a little harsh just now and, really, I don’t mean to be, but the most effective reviews are not the ones that say: “I love your book!” or “It was so hot!” Don’t get me wrong. Complimenting authors on their work is always a WIN in my book, and there will never be a shortage of these types of reviews, but if you think about it, what will the author remember from that kind of review? Not a whole lot other than the fact it was a good one and gave them a momentary thrill.
There isn’t an end all to be all on writing reviews either. It really is your prerogative what you as a reviewer say about a book. And believe me, authors appreciate that you’re reviewing at all. So here are a few tips on effective reviewing.
- Not every book is perfect. There are bound to be a few things you as a reader will find structurally wrong with a book whether it’s grammar, plot, development, lackluster narrative, pages of endless dialogue, creative dialogue tags everywhere, or whatever else you can imagine. There will always be something an author can improve on. Don’t overlook these copy edit issues, let the author know in the review. This could help the author seek better editing.
- Tell the author what you really think. Don’t hold back on how you feel, but use some decorum and show respect. Authors work hard at what they do and being snotty only undermines your credibility.
- Find your balance. Reviews don’t have to be a list of the things you found wrong. There should be plenty of praise. If you liked the book, that is. If you didn’t like a book, find something that did appeal to you and let the author know. Authors hear on a daily basis what they are doing wrong; tell them what they are doing right as well. It can mean the world to them.
- When in doubt, use gifs! Some of the most creative reviews I have read included clever and witty gifs to help the reviewer express how they feel about a book. Plus it’s really funny and mixes up the humdrum of the plain old review.
- Suggest books to your followers, friends, co-workers, family, etc. The best way to create buzz about a book you’re in love with is to spread the word.
- Share your reviews. Whether it be your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, or other places, make sure your review is seen in all places.
What is your take on effective reviewing?