Some Advice Is Ill Offered
Back in April Netgalley posted a ‘Tips for Writing Reviews’ that I took umbrage at because of a couple of points.
The very first point was
Any review that you write should be constructive, whether it’s positive or critical of the book. Make sure to tell your readers why you liked or disliked certain aspects of the book vs. just stating your opinion with no evidence.
Netgalley is the home of book reviewers, but I don’t believe for one second that every single review I write has to be constructive. What if I’m too overcome by emotion, either positive or negative, to be able to form a coherent review? I’m not providing feedback to improve the product – although once upon a time I heard my friend Ashleigh Paige criticized an ARC for writing that a motorcycle’s accelerator was a gas pedal, and in the final version that was corrected. I like to think she had something to do with that.
Strive to be kind in your brutal honesty. Avoid being hurtful in your constructive criticism–authors are people too!
Oh, please. These days authors are the first to cry ‘bully!’ when anyone so much as gives a 3 star review. Avoid being hurtful? Simply reporting that you didn’t enjoy the book is hurtful. You know what’s hard? Finding nice things to say about a pile of crap. You know what’s fun? Ranting. Put two and two together and you won’t always be able to be ‘kind’ in a review of a rubbish book. Besides, everyone knows author shouldn’t – but do – read reviews. Drink a cup of concrete and harden the fuck up. At a job review, a boss won’t be kind and sweet if you’ve fucked up. Authors aren’t special snowflake fairies that will break under the merest criticism. At least, they’re not supposed to be. Heaven knows we’ve seen way too many of them.
Do not include spoilers in your review (no one enjoys spoilers).
Poor maligned spoilers. This year there’s been several books I have deliberately sought out spoilers for only to find that no one’s willing to post them anymore. And then Playbuzz goes and posts this spoiler-filled list of The Most Shocking Moments in YA Literature, and of course I read them because I’ve either read the book or have no interest in reading the book, but when I got to the spoiler about The Red Queen?
I almost felt my eyes pop out of my head as I suddenly thought ‘THAT SOUNDS SO EPIC, I NEED TO READ THIS BOOK NOW!’
‘No one’ enjoys spoilers?
Sometimes spoilers are needed to help really ‘sell’ the book to a potential reader. BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD IF YOU DO ADD SPOILERS PLEASE TAG THEM SO THE PRECIOUS NON-SPOILER-LOVING PEOPLE DON’T BURN THEIR EYES AND FOREVER RUIN THEIR READING EXPERIENCE AND GIVE UP ON BOOKS ALTOGETHER AND GO AND LEARN TO KNIT OR SOMETHING.