Leave a Review

If you’ve ever read a book and as you enter the real world, thought…

“Wow! That was a great book.

…or the equivalent, don’t just leave it there.

If you’ve enjoyed the story, there is one thing you can do to help the author.

Review the book.

Books are not read because they are for sale, or an advertisement was seen. Books are sold through word of mouth. If you liked a book, you’ll tell your mother, your cousin, your sister, your aunt, brother, next door neighbour, and the guy serving you at the grocery story. Reviews are just the same.  If a book looks interesting, people will go and read the review to see what other people thought. Reviews are word of mouth…only written down.

And herein lies the crux.

Apparently, writing a review is scary and hard. I’ve written a few, but I am by no means an expert. Despite that, here are a few tips that will hopefully make it less scary and a little easier.

Photo: light and books by Katie Hiscock. CC BY 2.0
Photo: light and books by Katie Hiscock. CC BY 2.0

1. Keep it simple

I liked the book because…

The KISS principle applies. While a review is ‘a critical analysis’ (according to the dictionary), you’re not attempting a thesis for a Doctorate. What would you say to other people about the book? You wouldn’t go into an analytical analysis of thematic process and character motivations. (Well, perhaps you would, but for a review it’s not necessary.)

2. Keep it short

Wow. This book was amazing!

Not everyone has the time to read a 11 page essey. A few sentences or a paragraph is fine. A few paragraphs even. Leave the novel writing for the author, though.

2. Don’t review if you haven’t read it

I only read up to page 45…

That sounds like a ‘no-brainer’ but I was surprised when someone told me they wrote a review for a book that they heard other people talk about. I still can’t wrap my head around it. It doesn’t make sense to me. It isn’t possible to gain a balanced perspective on a book you haven’t read or have only read halfway through.

3. Review the book you read

I would have liked it better if it had vampires…

Review the book you read, not the book you wished it was. If you normally read romance and this book is a crime mystery don’t review it as a ‘2 star’ because the relationship ended with the heroine being murdered and there was no ‘happily-ever-after’.

4. Be constructive, not nasty

This author had better not think of giving up her day job…

If you didn’t like something it’s perfectly okay to say it in the review, but make sure you’re not being mean about it. Books are subjective. There will always be things that not everyone will like. Say why you didn’t like it. Perhaps the characters could have been better developed, or you would have liked more description of the location…but don’t attack the author. There is no need to say that you thought the book was a sanctimonious pile of camel dung. That helps no one.

5. Do say what you liked

I  give it 5 stars.

Great, you’ve given a book a ‘5 star’ rating. Yay!
Why? Did you like the characters? Or one in particular? Did you like the twist? Did you like the location? Did the book make you cry? Or laugh? Was it a book you couldn’t put down? Was there a scene you particularly loved? Say it in the review.

6. Don’t give spoilers

They all died…he took poison and she stabbed herself. 

This is the one I appreciate the most. The people who are reading your review are interested in the book, but if you give things away in your review, they might as well not bother with reading the story. You can say ‘I was surprised at who the murder turned out to be’, you don’t have to say ‘I was surprised that the murderer was Harry, the best friend’s little brother’.

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Those are my pointers for writing a review. Do you have any others? I’d be interested in reading them in the comments below.

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