Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reviews, Getting Your Stars

I have been giving this a lot of thought over the past few weeks. I read all kinds of ‘How to write a review” articles and talked with others on this as well.
Authors depend on reviews and feedback to improve their work before publishing, and to promote and market it afterwards. I want to talk about post pub reviews.

Let’s just say there’s a rating star per following item…

1-There are the basics that have to be taken into account, namely spelling, grammar and punctuation. You'd think that this would not be an issue, but I have read some pretty bad books that had mistakes throughout the entire book.

Authors, I cannot stress this enough…have your book edited! Paying a professional is not a waste of money. Your integrity and professional image are at stake here. Don’t start on the wrong side of the track by being labelled as a bad writer, because you may never be able to convince readers your work is now worth it.
Did the book get this star?

2-Characters: Without them it would be hard to have a story, so hopefully they’ve come to life. They should make you laugh or cry along with them (or, if your into this-scare the pants off of you, LOL). Flat, two dimensional characters can make the reading experience painful. Were they nothing more than talking heads? Did the author do his/her homework and develop characters that respected their age, language, and setting? No “yo, man” in a historical novel. Again…you’d think this would be a given.

3-Setting: Can you see it, smell it, feel it? Did an ancient city rise from the dust? Were you transported to the outer reaches of the universe? Did you hear and feel the leaves crunch beneath your feel while you walked through the book? Did the author research the country, or city area so he knew that there were no Rocky Mountains in Saskatchewan or Iowa?

4-Plot/story line: Did it make sense? Were loose ends tied up or simply lost along the way? Was there continuity to the story? Did you think you were reading one thing, only to get taken for a ride and end up somewhere else? Confused?

5-Overall flow: Were you able to read through without getting hung up on confusing elements, like “Wait, who’s talking now?” Or “What happened to X?”, or “Where did that come from?” When you get lost in a book, loose track of time and realize that you’ve read the whole thing, it’s a sure sign of a good read.

Now, taking all these things into consideration, you have a good place to start rating your book. Once you’ve decided on a rating, write the review…don’t just say, “Save your money, I hated it” or “Great read.” Explain why, give concrete examples that can be useful to the author and other readers to help them decide if they want to read it or not.

Are you the best person to rate this book?

If you hate mushy romance novels, should it surprise you that you didn’t like the read? It would be like asking me to taste your sushi and let you know what I think. I hate sushi…the first time I ate one I thought I had a dead goldfish in my mouth…(and yes, it was fresh) so don’t count on my opinion for a good sushi rating. But, I can fly a plane, treat a patient and teach martial arts, so I can evaluate the authenticity of such elements in a story. If you know you are not the best person to review a certain novel, either step down or be honest about it…say It was a good story, and even though I personally don’t like (insert genre) you might enjoy this read.

Be fair. Authors put a lot of time into their writing, we should encourage them by praising their work, when called for, and offering constructive criticism to help the author grow in his/her writing when needed. It’s easy to verbally bash something, but if you offer no solutions, or points to work from, then maybe you should refrain from comment.

You can refer to my post on having your work edited before publication (to avoid bad reviews afterwards), called “What’s in a Review”:


  1. This is a very good post Debbie! :)

    I like the rating system you got and I totally agree about the genre thing! I am trying to broaden my horizon with books because it's nice to sort of test the waters slightly, but I would always take this into consideration when reviewing a book!

    Reading is a very personal thing. We each have our tastes, our own likes and dislikes, and while one person may love that book like never before, another person may hate it beyond belief (Hello, Twilight series!). But, even then, if you're reviewing a book that you didn't like because you don't normally like that genre, let the reader of the review know that STRAIGHT away. Otherwise it could turn potential readers away who do actually LIKE that genre.

    You hit it on the head with this one! Hehe. :D

    Faye (:

  2. Great post, but I had to laugh. In the section that you can't stress enough about editing, You said, "You integrity is at stake." Don't you just hait when that happens. LOL!

  3. Especially when you take the time to go over it and correct it ;o)