Reviewing Books

Note: This will be my last blog post for a while. I’m going to be on a vacation for a few weeks so I won’t have time to write blog posts.


I’ve seen quite a few nasty reviews of books I liked. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if they’re actually trying to help people, or if they’re just trolls on some sort of vendetta. In some cases, it’s obvious they didn’t read the book, and in other cases, the thing they complained about was explained later on.

I think it’s fine to leave a negative review, if it’s written well. In some cases, I get a bit suspicious if I only see positive reviews, especially if the book isn’t very popular. It makes me wonder if the reviewers might all be friends of the author.

Here are a few tips that might help with review writing.

  1. Keep in mind the review may be read by the author, the author’s grandmother, grandkids, or the author’s rabid fans.
  2. Remember why you’re writing the review. Are you writing it because you have friends who you want to tell about the book, warning other readers about something in the book, promoting the author, or something else?
  3. If you don’t like the book because of its genre, don’t write a nasty review unless you have good reason to. Don’t write, “This space opera is stupid because lightspeed isn’t possible. This author needs to go back to school.” If you must write the review, mention that you’re not interested in the genre so that might be why you don’t like the book. You don’t want to drive away readers who would enjoy the book.
  4. Everyone makes mistakes. Just because the author said chickens lay eggs in their “roosts” doesn’t mean you should give the book a bad review. (For those wondering, roosts are where chickens perch, nests are where they lay eggs.)
  5. This goes double for political correctness. I saw a book get multiple negative reviews because the narrator said something that might have been racist if a person read it a certain way. Authors come from different regions and cultures. What’s considered racist in one area might be perfectly fine in another region. Another thing to remember is the characters often come from different cultures and authors don’t always agree with their characters.
  6. When it comes to politics and other content, mention if that’s the reason you didn’t like the book. If you’re a pacifist and the characters fighting upset you, say that’s why you didn’t like it. The same goes for swearing and sexual content. This way, people who don’t have problems with that will know they don’t need to avoid the book. In some cases, the negative review might even drive readers who disagree with you to the book.
  7. Don’t review the book if you haven’t read past the free preview. Any buyer can read the free preview on Amazon and make up their own minds. If they’re looking at reviews, they probably want to know how the entire book is, not what someone thought of the free preview.
  8. Don’t swear in the review. It makes you look mean. Also keep in mind that people reading the reviews might be children who don’t know those words yet.

What about you? Do you disagree with any of these tips, or do you have any to add to the list? Do you get annoyed at mean reviews?


About Jessi L. Roberts

I live and work on my family’s cattle ranch in eastern Montana. I have a flock of chickens, a hyper golden retriever, some cows, and a few horses. I enjoy fantasy and science fiction and my head is full of wild sci-fi story ideas, some involving apocalypses and others involving aliens. I have been published twice in Havok Magazine, an imprint of Splickity.
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3 Responses to Reviewing Books

  1. Hi Jessi!

    (I know this comment is a month late, but I just decided to check out your blog. 😉 )

    These guidelines are so true, and so helpful. I find that I love to read book reviews, whether positive or negative, if they’re done well. Respect for a book even if it wasn’t the person’s type is the best thing reviewers can do to make their audience (as well as authors) happy. 😀

    I look forward to getting to know you better all throughout NaNo!

    -Amanda @ Scattered Journal Pages


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