So, what am I looking for when I read reviews? That’s a good question. I honestly haven’t thought about it a lot. I don’t read a lot of reviews – unless I’ve already read the book. Why? I used to read reviews of books that sounded interesting to me, but then discovered that it took some of the fun out of reading these books. Even when reviews are spoiler-free, there often is just enough said to tip me off. If you’re familiar with my reviews, then you know that I tend to be able to figure most books out pretty quickly and/or easily. When I read reviews before reading the books, it was worse.
I still read reviews – especially if it’s a book I felt strongly about (for good or bad). I like to see how others reacted and see if they had a similar reaction to things that I did. I like to see if others got the same things out of it, or if they had the same problems I did (when applicable). I will occasionally skim a review for a book I haven’t read – especially if it’s written by a friend or someone whose reviews I either enjoy or trust enough to use to help me decide on reading something.
What I look for:
- Rating: Oh, yes, I like the ratings. Stars, hearts, or whatever other visual you can give me will bring me back again and again. Even if I won’t read your review until after I read the book, I like to see your overall opinion at a quick glance. The best thing about these ratings is that there is ZERO spoiler to it. For someone who is quite intuitive when reading books, this is a HUGE thing!
- The Good AND the Bad: If you just post positive reviews, I put less stock into your reviews. No one will love – or even like – every single book that comes their way. I want to know about the ones you don’t like as much as the ones you do like. For one thing, your integrity is shot if you never have anything bad to say about books (or only barely note negatives and post overwhelmingly positive reviews). Yes, I know there’s much controversy over Negative Reviews, but I don’t really care. An author who is going to get all bent out of shape and rant and rave about a negative review is someone I don’t really care to please. And, frankly, if they can’t handle negative reviews (not to be mistaken with personal attacks, which I abhor), perhaps they should find a different line of work. And that was a tangent. Sorry. Anyway, don’t just post positives. I won’t take you seriously as a reviewer if you’re always giving high ratings and waxing poetic every time you post. Now, if you don’t want to write negative reviews, that’s fine, but don’t sweep them under the rug. Maybe a weekly or monthly (or whatever frequency works for you) post with just a list of books you didn’t like (and/or didn’t finish) would suffice – especially if you included a line or two about why.
- Cover: Don’t post a review without a cover. That’s just a major book-review faux pas.
- Your Writing: Oh, yes. Your writing. It doesn’t have to be eloquent or poetic. Just be mindful of language usage – you know, spelling, grammar, punctuation. If you want to be a trusted, credible reviewer, then you have to “sound” like a pro. Perfection isn’t necessary (even editors screw up sometimes), but do your best. And taking time to learn more about proper grammar and such would be a big bonus, too.
- Short and Sweet (or Sour): The operative word here is short. When I want to read a novel, I won’t be at your blog. I’ll be curled up on my couch with a book or my Kindle, getting lost to the world. I want to spend more of my time reading the books, less on reviews. Please keep your reviews short, or provide a short summary of your opinion with longer reviews. There’s two reasons for this: One, it cuts down on spoilers. Two, I want to be able to get a general feel at a quick glance. I won’t even look at the longer reviews unless I’ve already read the book.
- Spoiler-free: I hate spoilers. Hate them. With the exception of books that are linked to movies/TV shows, I do not enjoy reading things that I’ve already found out how it all pans out. Yes, part of the enjoyment is in the journey. But for me, the journey is much more enjoyable if I don’t know exactly where I’ll end up. (Ironic, given that I’m not one for surprises in other things, but in my books the more surprises there are the more I generally like the book!) Now, I say this all somewhat tongue-in-cheek, because there are times when I feel I MUST write spoilers. Or, there are occasional books that cannot be discussed without mentioning something that might be construed by some as spoiling something. In these cases, proper book-blogging/reviewing etiquette would be to CLEARLY MARK spoilery. As in, using CAPITAL LETTERS and/or RED TEXT saying SPOILERS AHEAD. Also helpful is, after the spoilers are over, note END SPOILERS. Or, find a way to hide them, like I do. (Since I have a white background, I can simply make my text white, requiring readers to highlight it to be able to see it. I also have a widget that collapses spoilers. There is no accidentally reading spoilers here! Although, I haven’t figured out how to make it work for my e-mail subscribers. Huge apologies for that!)
Those are the basics that I look for. There are other, less important things I like, but the above can be deal-breakers. For more thoughts on this subject, click the button above to be taken to the blog hop host, Reading Romances. (I think I might follow Nat’s example and post a survey for my readers to find out what they’re wanting from me. Stay tuned for that!)
So, how about you? What do you look for in reviews?
FTC Disclosure: All items reviewed were either obtained by me for my own enjoyment or sent (from the author, publisher, publicist, via tour sites, etc.) in exchange for an honest review. I receive no monetary compensation for my posts. All opinions expressed are my own. Any exceptions to this are clearly noted in the appropriate posts.
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