Reviews are what authors live and die by. A bad review can tank sales whereas a good review has the potential to do the opposite, increase sales. Indifferent reviews are a total waste of time. I’ll get more into that later.
The basic review should be at least 50-100 words long. Longer is better if the reviewer is not giving away key plot points or retelling the entire book in their own words. Each review should contain why you, as the reader, enjoyed the story, what made the characters and scenes come alive, and how the plot kept you guessing pretty much all the way through to the end.
However, do not post plot twists. These are also known as spoilers. If you feel the need to post spoilers please make sure that you mention something like ‘Spoiler Ahead’ so other readers interested in the book are warned. Be somewhat general in a review. Some specifics are good as long as they don’t spoil the overall story and ending. That’s pretty much covers the basics for a good review.
For a bad review, posting something like the author sucks and can’t string more than two words together to make a coherent sentence is not conducive nor is it constructive criticism. Some readers become very juvenile when writing a bad review. They lean towards name calling, deriding the parentage of the author and basically acting like a grade school student.
Bad reviews are the opposite of a good review. While that’s a big ass, in your face no shit, I say that so readers can understand that a bad review should be constructive. Again, no shit. When you post a bad review, and it will happen, don’t be angry. What I mean, is don’t take out your frustrations on the author because you didn’t like their work. Strive to be constructive in your review even though it’s not positive. Explain what the issues were that you found and why they detract from the story. If there was a lack of development in either the plot and character or both, state that. If the writing was poor, state that as well but don’t denigrate the author. If you feel that the author rushed the work to publication, that happens with self publishing and in some publishing houses more than you know, state that. Above all, be constructive with the review.
Indifferent reviews I touched upon in another post about reviews. Indifference means you couldn’t care less about the story. Usually, this issue arises when you move outside your comfort zone. Or the author has failed to pull you into the story so in essence, you couldn’t give two shits if any of the characters were hit by a bus. If you’re into a certain genre, reading something not in that genre can create an indifference and therefore an indifferent review. Those type of reviews can contain statements like ‘this isn’t what I usually read’. Or ‘I picked this up not knowing what it was about’. Both of those statements have a chance of becoming good reviews. If only the follow on statement was ‘this isn’t what I usually read,’ and it ends with something like ‘but it was awesome!’ then the reader has expanded their comfort zone and is willing to venture into a genre they may have never considered. That’s kind of 50/50.
But, and you knew this was coming. Any reader who fails to read the synopsis of any book that catches their eye and then provides an indifferent or bad review, is totally wasting their time and the author’s time. This has happened and will continue to happen as some people just don’t take the time to read the synopsis or verify that the title they’re looking at is from the author they want. Similar titles can cause issues.
Posting into several genres can cause issues as well. If you’re primarily writing in horror but somehow, somewhere within one of your books, there’s a love interest, that doesn’t change the genre. It’s still horror but it might be paranormal romance if one of the main characters is not human.
Make sure that you, as an author, have placed your work within the correct genre. If you have, and still someone who normally wouldn’t have read your work, picks it up, reads it, and posts an indifferent review, then that’s solely on that reader not you.
While this may seem redundant, a review should consist of the some or all of the following:
1) The book title and author name.
2) The basic plot without giving away anything.
3) What book this is if it’s in a series and if you’ve read the previous books in that series.
4) What the reader liked about the book, in general, while not giving away any major plot points/twists.
5) What the reader felt was missing to make this an excellent story, if applicable.
6) Additional comments, positive or negative, about the work while refraining from calling the author names or making any reference to their alleged parentage.
Sure, that all sounds easy. But there are some readers/reviewers who haven’t quite grasped the basics to writing any kind of review. Sadly, the majority of these readers think that perusing the sample chapters is enough information to form a solid concept of the book and therefore be informed enough to write a review. That’s like watching a movie teaser trailer and deciding if the film will totally suck or be something that will be enjoyable and worth watching more than once.
Reviews are an author’s life blood. If posted with constructive criticism they can assist the author to become a better writer.
Authors, when reading a review, good, bad, or indifferent, do not, and I can’t stress this enough, do not attempt to change your writing style because someone didn’t like it. If you start doing that, you’ll never develop your own style as you will be constantly attempting to adapt based on what a review stated. If someone doesn’t like your style then that’s why there are other authors in that genre. Read any reviews from a constructive perspective. Or don’t read reviews. It’s all up to you.