Friday, January 17, 2014

How To Review A Book Without Making New Enemies

Being a reviewer without becoming Public Enemy No. 1 can be one of the hardest challenges any reviewer or blogger out there will have to face. Yours truly included. 

We have attempted to scientificalize our Review System and we are happy to see that many have read the page. That was our attempt to let the readers have a feel on what approach we use when we post a review. Which brings us to why I decided to write this particular post. 

It is so frustrating to be a reviewer and then read some reviews out there where not only do they bring down the quality of the books by rates so low and their reason was not because they had read the book, but because the ebook they downloaded had some issues. Some  rated the books very, very, low because they did not like the subject matter. Equally bad for me is rating a book 0 or 1 because they did not like the author. The worst are those filled with bullish and contemptuous speech. Why in the world read the MM or erotic books and then speak disrespectfully of the genre and their authors? 

That is NOT how to review. 

Remember, as reviewers or readers, if you want better books, it probably works better by giving constructive criticism on the work itself rather than bombing the author's self esteem.

I mean, really, unless you are a super duper fabulous writer yourself, it is time to really think about the effort some of these writers put into their work.

Put yourself in the shoes of the writer when they see your review. It may not be a highly rated book, but try to give the author something to take away from the comments you wrote. This way the authors can improve for that next book they publish. 

Unfair reviews can affect the self esteem of the authors. They can start second guessing their abilities as a writer, and that is just plain cruel and unnecessary. 

Remember, reading a review is much like reading a book - it will have an impact on whether readers choose to read an author's work. So, in a way, it is affecting another person's life.

I am not trying to be melodramatic or anything, but it is true... readers may opt not to read the book or any of the author's works simply because of one unfair review. 

So here are just some of the basics on reviewing books:

First: the approach you will take: the descriptive path where you give the key information about the book, or the critical path where you attempt to describe and evaluate the book.

If you are taking the critical path, it is important not to go this way unless you have actually READ! THE BOOK. Skimming over the book, or reading the blurb, or worse, reading the first, middle and ending chapters do not count!

More importantly: please KNOW THE GENRE of the book you are reading! Rating a book down simply because you mistook it for something else is not only irresponsible, it is downright idiotic. 

Second: while you are reading the book, remember these basic rules: 

1. Do not rush the read so you can review the next book on your TBR list; 
2. If you like something, highlight it while reading it;
3. Take note of your first impressions;
4. Think about what you read and try to assimilate it (understanding the book is key); and
5. Write down your thoughts in a manner similar to when you are discussing it with a friend.

Third: while you do the draft and editing said draft, remember this rule: do not give away the plot. Okay, so there are some times where you cannot prevent this, so please, do write a Spoiler Alert or Hide Spoiler thing. The worst thing you can do is to give away the plot for that ruins it for the other readers. I myself have fallen to this at times, I don't deny it. But I do try to correct my past mistakes.

Fourth: write the review and be kind and fair about it. Dropping F*bombs all over the review is not a good way to go. Simply because the author drops these words and others similar to it all over the book is no reason to downgrade or insult their work. Think theme, biography and history. These are the backgrounds of the work you are reading and understanding these should help you understand the reason why the author wrote the piece.

Now, if you didnt like the book because of certain parts, then state your reasons why. Do it kindly. Do it fairly. And more importantly, make sure that it remains your personal opinion. 

Fifth: DO NOT TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY! If you do or did, maybe it's time to close the book and back off quietly. Take tea or coffee or just have a slice of chocolate cake. Believe me, the author did not have you in mind when they wrote their work. 

***Thank you LDP! mwah mwah mwah for being my own personal soundingboard!


  1. This is a great piece, loved reading it. Yes, no matter how much you dislike a book, you should try to be constructive in your criticism.

    Another thing I've noticed, you judge a book by how you feel about the characters. Not all book characters should be perfect and lovable. Good writing does not portray fairy tale creatures, it just gives you great character development, a plot that hooks you, and something to think about when you're done reading.

  2. "judge a book by how you feel about the characters"

    OOhhh I should have added that in! Nice one Alina. Forgot that and it is important. Very important!