I am in no way an expert on the topic of reviews, but I know what I like. I believe that’s the first step in writing a review that is honest and informative. There is a difference between a rating and a review, and while both are helpful, I like to provide a written review whenever possible.
Simply put, a review is a written description of what you like about a story, and yes, even what you don’t. I am going to share with you three rules I keep in mind when doing my reviews, the most recent of which can be seen on Goodreads under my Author page. They also get shared on my Author Facebook and Twitter.
Not all reviews need to include a 5-star rating
– I will be the first to say that there are some incredible (and little known) books out there, and while they are fabulous, they don’t always warrant a 5-star rating. In a perfect world, we would be able to give star ratings with decimals. This would allow us the flexibility of giving a book a 4.5 rating for something well-written and witty, that wasn’t in the same literary category as a beloved classic. So far, we only have 1 to 5 star ratings at our disposal, but in my opinion, what you say about the book is much more important than the rating you give it. A rating of 3 or 4, backed up with a thoughtful and telling review, can be more powerful, and believable, than a 5-star rating alone. In all honesty, it is what I would rather see as an author, since I am always looking for constructive feedback. It allows me to see how the readers are connecting to the characters I develop and the situations I place them in. It also allows me to hone my skill as a writer, which is really important to me.
A short review is better than no review
– I do tend to write wordy reviews, however, there are times when I am unable to give the review proper attention, based on schedule conflicts, deadlines, etc. Sometimes one line can be very intriguing and powerful, interesting a reader enough to check out a particular author. For instance, my review of Seven Years by Dannika Dark included the simple statement, “Loved it! Never knew an explosion could be so romantic!”
There is always something positive to say
– I feel pretty strongly about this rule, especially considering how hard it is to complete a novel and bare your soul to the world (in a literary sense of course). In every book I have read, I have found things that I connected to or liked. In reviews, I feel it is important to focus on those things, as well as the things that you felt were missing. If a novel is poorly written, lacks editing, or has been improperly advertised, I feel the author should be contacted directly via email with a list of things that require attention. This gives the author an opportunity to correct the issues and learn what doesn’t work moving forward. Otherwise, pick something you really liked about the story and write your review around that.
Well-written reviews can be helpful not only to other readers, but also to the authors whose stories have made their way into your life. Taking the time to post a review, or at the very least a rating, is appreciated more than you know by the writing community. For anyone that would like to review my work, you can post them on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Kobo. You can even drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like! Follow this link to all of the places you can find me!
Thank you to everyone who make reviews a regular part of their reading experience.