Not long ago, I saw a notice from an awesome blogger asking authors what they think of 3-star reviews. Let me say, I've received my fair share and don't object one bit --as long as the reviewer has, for the most part, followed The Ten Commandments of Reviewing. I think we all agree people have different tastes when it comes to reading, as they do in all areas of life.
But there are several reasons I object to certain commentary in a review. Please allow me to stress I adore bloggers/reviewers and realize without them our books would lack exposure. I promote bloggers and reviewers as much as I promote my colleagues on Twitter and other social media sites I realize their importance in the entire cycle of publishing.
On one of my recent reviews the reader/blogger said scenes in the book bordered on, or were, rape. The novel was too graphic for him/her. This book comes with a huge warning on Amazon and all sites where the book is for sale: WARNING: Scenes of intense and graphic man love. I can understand this commentary if a warning hadn’t been posted, but clue #1 should have screamed "This books isn't for me." Great, please DO NOT read and review then. You'll be unhappy and I'll be unhappy.
An interesting fact in history: In the 70s and 80s thousands of “bodice rippers” were released in the romance genre. Bodice rippers is a watered-down moniker for strong sexual elements.I remember reading Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss, among others – and let me tell you, there was nothing “consensual” between the characters when it came to sex. (Btw, I adore both authors and their books). I’ll cover this topic in another blog post so stay tuned.
Secondly, I recently received a 3-star review from a blogger that went on and on about what kind of book she likes, what her tastes were and thus, the 3 stars. See below: The review is not about the author and not about you, the reviewer. Pleasing all readers or writing to their specific likes is an insurmountable task for an author. We realize a book either resonates with you or it doesn’t. BUT . . . the review should not be about that. It should be about writing style, depth of characters, word building, believability, and many other things that make the book a very enjoyable journey.
* * *
So on with the post: The Ten Commandments of Book Reviewing - written and posted by Author Mayra Calvani Here is her site: MAYRA CALVANI WEB SITE
Thou shall have no other gods before the reader. The review is not about the author, nor the publisher, and especially, not about you, the reviewer. Reviews are all about the reader. Don’t try to impress with pompous words in an attempt to glorify yourself or appear scholarly. Give readers simplicity and clarity. They’ll appreciate it. If they want verbose and fancy, they can read Shakespeare.
Thou shall not lie. Honesty is what defines your trade. Without it, you’re doing nothing but selling copy. When you give facile praise or sugar-coat a book, sooner or later readers will take you for what you are: a phony.
Thou shall try not to offend the author. Just as honesty is important, so is tact. There’s no need to be harsh or mean. A tactfully written, well-meant negative review should offer the author insight into what is wrong with the book. Instead of saying, “This is a terrible novel!” say, “This book didn’t work for me for the following reasons…”
Thou shall not eat the evaluation. Some fledgling reviewers write a long blurb of the book and leave out the evaluation. The evaluation is the most important part of a review. A summary of the plot is not an evaluation. Saying, “I really liked this book” is not an evaluation. The evaluation tells the reader what is good and bad about the book, and whether or not it is worth buying.
Thou shall not reveal spoilers. Nobody likes to be told the ending of a movie before having watched it. The same thing is valid for a book. If you give spoilers in your review, not only do you lessen the reader’s reading experience but you also risk being sued by the publisher or author.
Thou shall honor grammar, syntax, and punctuation. Don’t be one of those reviewers who are more in love with the idea of seeing their name online than making sure their reviews are well-written and thorough. Your reviews may hang around on the internet for years to come and will reflect on your level as a writer. Run a spell check, edit, revise, and polish your review, as if you were posting a short story. Get a good book on grammar, and punctuation, take an online course or listen regularly to podcasts such as The Grammar Girl.
Thou shall honor deadlines. If you join a review site where the turnaround for reviews is 3 weeks, then you should respect that agreement. If you promise the author to have the review ready in two months, you should honor this too. Be honest and straight forward from the beginning. If you’re so busy your turnaround is six months, make sure to let the person know. If for any reasons you cannot meet the deadline, contact the person and let him know. It’s your responsibility to maintain a do-able schedule.
Thou shall not be prejudiced against thy neighbor. Don’t assume that a self-published or small press book is poorly written. Give it a fair chance and let it speak for itself. Likewise, never assume a book published by a major NY house has to be good. You’d be surprised by the high quality of some small press books by unknown authors, as opposed to those written by big name authors whose titles are often in the bestseller lists. In general, most subsidy books are mediocre, but there are always exceptions. If you’ve had bad experiences with subsidy books, then don’t request them nor accept them for review. If you decide to review one, though, don’t be biased and give it a fair chance.
Thou shall not become an RC addict. RC stands for Review Copy. Requesting RCs can get out of control. In fact, it can become addictive. You should be realistic about how many books you can review. If you don’t, pretty soon you’ll be drowning in more RCs than you can handle. When this happens, reading and reviewing can change from a fun, pleasurable experience into a stressful one. If you’re feeling frazzled because you have a tower of books waiting to be reviewed, learn to say NO when someone approaches you for a review and stop requesting RCs for a while. Unless you’re being paid as a staff reviewer for a newspaper or magazine, reviewing shouldn’t get in the way of your daily life.
Thou shall honor thy commitment. Remember that any books you’ve agreed to review beforehand are being sent to you in exchange for a review. If your policy is not to review every book you receive, state it clearly on your blog or site so the author or publisher will know what to expect. If you have agreed to review a book, but have a valid reason for not reviewing it, let the review site editor, author, publisher, or publicist know.
Check out Keta’s Books on AMAZON US