How NOT to Write a Book Review

Being both the author of two novels and an adamant reader, I’ve become familiar with the process and the way that reviews are written online from other readers from around the world. As a result, I’d like to think I’ve become accustomed to the qualities that make a good review, and qualities that make a poorly executed one.

It’s the latter that drive me crazy, especially as the recipient of quite a few of them. That’s why today, I break it down for everyone by explaining how NOT to write a book review:

1. Don’t summarize the book in the review, unless if you’re writing it for a publication or a blog.

I haven’t seen this one as often, but I still see it enough to where I feel the need to bring it up. If you are writing a book review for a publication or, perhaps, your blog, then by all means, yes; a brief summary will definitely help lure the reader into understanding what they are about to read about. But if you are writing the review directly onto the book’s Amazon or Goodreads page, other readers will already know what book you are talking about, so just cut to the chase!

2. Don’t review a book based on someone else’s opinion about it.

I’ve seen this happen before and the thought of it alone just makes me angry. I don’t care how close you are with that other person or how alike your minds may think. At the end of the day, you really have no right to review a book until you have taken the time to read it yourself. For all you know, you may have an entirely different opinion about it.

3. Don’t review a book AT ALL if you didn’t even bother to finish it.

I’ve also seen this occurrence plenty of times. To be quite frank, you’re wasting the time of both the author and other readers if you didn’t bother to complete the whole thing. Why you ask? Because you didn’t allow yourself to have the full experience! Now don’t get me wrong, for I am aware that there are books out there that are hard to get through. In those situations, leaving just a rating and nothing more is better suited.

4. Don’t use a book review as an excuse to judge the identities of the characters.

The point of a book review is to address what you liked or didn’t like about the story itself, the overall pacing, the characters as people, and then some. You DO NOT use a review to express your racism, sexism, or – in the case of that one reviewer for An Absolute Mind – your homophobia towards any of the characters. I, among others, will not tolerate that kind of BS.

5. Never use a book review as a way to express assumptions or judgments about the author.

I’ve written in the past on how authors kind of have to take on an actor’s mindset, for they may find themselves writing about characters or situations that they are not at all like or have never experienced before. While there are some elements in a book that may come right from the heart of the author, at the end of the day, using a book review to make any kind of judgment about the author is also not tolerated. I mean think about it: If you read a book with a very detailed murder scene, are you going to assume that the author has history as a murderer?

If you don’t already, bear these thoughts in mind when it comes to writing book reviews. What’s overall important to consider when reading a book is to actually take the time to leave a review. Not only are you providing feedback for the author, but you’re also helping them by making it easier for other potential readers to find it.

It’s also wise to note that it takes a lot of time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears to write a book. So before you go on about why you didn’t like a particular work, bear this reality in mind and ask yourself if you as a reader could have done it any better – because the odds of you saying “yes” may vary.

An Absolute Mind is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & NobleCreateSpace, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. If you read it, please leave a review, for they’re greatly appreciated, they help me grow as a writer, and they help with getting other people to find out about it. Also, be sure to check out its Goodreads page, and feel free to leave any questions you have about the book.

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