Write Reviews How You Want To

Musing-by-Moonlight

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.

What do you think about this review advice? Do you agree or disagree?

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo specialises in reading and reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She especially loves novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, healing, and assassins.

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6 thoughts on “Write Reviews How You Want To

  1. Karen

    knew I liked you for a good reason – this whole post about sums it up lol

    the only thing i dont like in reviews is when the reviewer doesnt just give a spoiler or two (and i agree with you on spoilers – they are a good thing) but they basically tell you the whole book chapter by chapter – seen way too many reviews like that lately

    1. Nemo

      I did once get feedback from a publicist thanking me for actually writing what I thought about the book and not just retelling it. Seems it’s a ‘thing’.

  2. chucklesthescot

    I really like your post! I agree with pretty much everything you said. Authors are asking us to pay good money and spend our limited free time reading their work. THat means we have the right to be honest in our reviews. It’s rare for me to do a ranting review now but it does happen sometimes! If you are upset by mildly critical comments, don’t publish your work as EVERY successful author gets a pile of bad reviews and they don’t cry about it!

    I’m not a fan of big plot spoilers but as long as there is a warning about it when I start the review or just before I get to it, that’s fine. When I write a review I always warn if I’m about to do a spoiler so people can choose. But in saying that, you are reading a review written by someone who has read the book so you need to expect that spoilers might be there.

    Good post!

    chucklesthescot recently posted: TBR 100 Book Countdown Challenge (504-500!!!)
    1. Nemo

      You’re right, we earn the right to be honest in our review when we spend our free time reading it. I, too, am aware that anything could really be classified a spoiler, but I was just frustrated that even when I went looking for spoilers I couldn’t find any for these particular books. It seems that people are either too afraid to mention anything vaguely spoilery or don’t tag and spoil it anyway.

    1. Nemo

      Sometimes I need the book to be spoiled to get me to want to read it because the vague non-spoilery reviews weren’t enough.

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