Aug 9, 2017

Reviewing honestly - A Guest Post by Shelly @ Read Sleep Repeat

Writing a review for a book is not an easy task. Especially when you don't end up liking a book, or found something problematic that needs to be addressed. While we all inherently know that we need to be honest, we tend to hesitate at times. So today we have the amazing Shelly over to share some tips to make sure that we're doing it right as reviewers.

Don't forget to check out Shelly's blog and follow her on twitter! ( She's the best.You NEED to follow her on twitter!)

Reviewing is not always fun and breezy. While it’s often a rewarding experience to write down and share your thoughts on a book, there are those instances where reviewing can feel more like a challenge than it should. What happens when you come across unpleasant instances in a book? What happens you dislike a book by an author whom you’re friends with?

Reviewing honestly is important, and a key part of reviewing. But sometimes it’s hard to write the words you need to. Here are some tips and things that I remember when it’s time to write those tough reviews:

Tips to Reviewing Honestly

1) Remember that reviews are for readers

A review is meant to help other readers figure out whether they want to read a book or not. Your only obligation should be to those readers, and maybe emailing the publicist who generously gave you that review copy. If you’re worried about emailing someone a bad review, you shouldn’t be. Part of your duty as a blogger is to provide unbiased opinions about a book, and publicists and authors should totally understand that books are subjective.

2) Not everyone can love every book

It’s sometimes tricky to be the only person who didn’t love a book. This is usually for entirely personal reasons. For example, I’m not a huge fantasy fan so sometimes I don’t like a lot of fantasy novels or have little interest in reading them. This is an entirely personal taste thing and it’s all right to know what books work and don’t work for you. It could be something like the writing or the plot that you didn’t love, and it can be intimidating to write something slightly negative about a book that everyone else loves. When it comes to subjective things like that, it’s important to remember that reading is subjective as well, and it’s unlikely that everyone will love the same book.

3) Check out ownvoices reviews

Sometimes, you may find something that feels a bit off to you. But if you don’t identify the same way as the main character, it may not be within your expertise. If that’s the case, as it sometimes may be, give priority to ownvoices reviews. Link those reviews to your review and point them out. Reviews sometimes seem to fall under a rule that they have to be several paragraphs long. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with a short paragraph that highlights your overall feelings and then linking to a more succinct review when you know that there’s something outside your lane.

4) Criticize the work, not the creator
When reviewing, it’s important to focus on the book itself and what’s within the book. When writing a negative review, I don’t make blanket statements about the author based on what’s within a book. Of course, there are some books that I won’t read because of the author (*cough cough* that one author who stalked a blogger) but I won’t write a review for a book that I haven’t read. This tip may apply more to subjective elements of a book like the writing, but I generally suggest staying away from making statements about a person’s character based on the book by that person.

5) One person’s review style may not be your reviewing style

These tips are not the be-all end-all of how to review honestly. These are just some of my suggestions and what I try to keep in mind when I review. If you disagree with me on some details, that’s fine. Part of reviewing is recognizing that not everyone will review the same way and that everyone has their own methods and rules. I can only share what I think works, but I certainly don’t think that my ideas will resonate with everyone or be relevant for every single situation.

Thanks Mish for letting me participate! 

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