Goodreads Reviewers' Group discussion

Experienced Reviewers

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message 1: by Rebecca, The Constant Reader (new)

Rebecca (rebeccas_books) | 340 comments Mod
If any of you experienced reviewers out there would like to offer advice to people just starting out, please post it here :)

message 2: by Jennie (new)

Jennie  Coull | 42 comments Don't get caught up in what other people think, you either liked or disliked a book and thats your opinion, don't be afraid to go against the grain!

message 3: by Cora, Tea Party Princess (new)

Cora Tea Party Princess (corazie) | 661 comments Mod
I'd say I'm just starting out myself, as I only started reviewing books properly this year, but I'd definitely say that you shouldn't worry about what other people think, your review is yours. It should impart your feelings about the book, whether good or bad. But constructive criticism is good and you should listen to people on that note.

message 4: by Raevyn (new)

Raevyn "Lucia" [I'm in it for the books] (raevynstar) | 62 comments Try not to summarize too much. Don't write (and this is a full review I used to have) "The BEST Goosebumps I've read!" and leave it at that. Write what set it apart.

message 5: by ~ Rose ~ ☯Desert Rose❀ (last edited Jul 19, 2013 06:43PM) (new)

~ Rose ~ ☯Desert Rose❀ (butterscotchbubbles) | 78 comments Biggest pet peeve (in book reviewing) and best advice I can give: don't make your review too short (as Raevyn said above), but don't give away too many details, either. You're not writing a book report for school. It doesn't need to be written in a way that proves you read it, full of key moments and details, with your opinions on every little thing. Far too many reviewers today do this, and it's not good. When you're writing a general review, it needs to be just that- a general review of your overall opinion.

Think about it this way: you're trying to tell a person who's never read the book, what you thought of it, and why you think they should or should not read it. Why they should spend their time and money on that book. If you give away all the key moments and details, then the potential reader has nothing more to look forward to. Then it becomes: "Why read it, and waste money?" The author's hard work just went down the drain, with your few paragraphs, and you've ruined a sale for the author (which is really bad, if you liked the book!).

If you want to discuss details and gush/bash a book, that's what Goodreads is for! Find a group, or start a discussion about that book- that's what those are there for. People go there, expecting a discussion about the details, and then you're not spoiling anything. If you want to talk to the author about what they wrote, again, that's what Goodreads is for! Send them a private message, most authors love personal feedback from their readers.

Bottom line- think about why you're writing a review- who are you talking to? A teacher, looking for proof you read it? The author? You friends? No. You're talking to future/potential buyers and readers. It's a sales pitch (or warning to keep their money), really. So just be careful that you're not stepping on the author's hard work with what you're writing. :)

message 6: by David (last edited Jul 20, 2013 06:20AM) (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 34 comments Great advice Rose. I love it when readers contact me about my books, and would love there to be discussions. One day, maybe :~)

message 7: by Cora, Tea Party Princess (new)

Cora Tea Party Princess (corazie) | 661 comments Mod
Raevyn wrote: "Try not to summarize too much. Don't write (and this is a full review I used to have) "The BEST Goosebumps I've read!" and leave it at that. Write what set it apart."

Oh my god, yes! There's a summary/description of the book at the top of the page, don't write your own. BO-RING.

And keep it spoiler free! Let the reader feel the same as you did when you read it.

message 8: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Harris (Reader of Things) | 35 comments Coull wrote: "Don't get caught up in what other people think, you either liked or disliked a book and thats your opinion, don't be afraid to go against the grain!"

Amen to that.

message 9: by Debbie (new)

Debbie I am new to reviewing myself and am trying to learn to do it well. The comments on here have helped a lot.

I know I hate giving negative reviews. If I don't like the book at all, I won't review it or say it was not my genre. However for the most part, I try to give several positive blurbs. I feel the author has spent a great deal of time writing these books and are really putting themselves out there. I just know that I would not want to read an entirely negative review.

message 10: by Cyndel (new)

Cyndel Schafer I am so new at reviewing and really hope to improve on them. So any advice will do on how to improve.

message 11: by PepperP0t (new)

PepperP0t  | 173 comments Be honest, a undeserved good review doesn't do any good.

You can say what you didn't like without bashing the author or the people who feel differently than you.

message 12: by Amber (new)

Amber (amberterminatorofgoodreads) | 82 comments Be honest with your reviews. When I do mine, I tell what the story is about without giving anything away then who I'd recommend it to.

message 13: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 4 comments My advice? Try to keep in mind that the person who wrote the book your were honored to be given for free, has feelings. There are a lot of reviewers out there who utterly destroy books. It may draw laughs from people reading the reviews, but the author who reads that is more than likely going to be devastated. You can write a review for a book you didn't enjoy without shredding the author's self-esteem; just be fair and conscious of what you're writing.

Also, I won't review a book that I can't give at least 3 stars. If I read it and it's a 2 or 1 for me, I contact the author and tell them why I didn't like it so that they can make some changes, or just decide it wasn't for me. The author had the courage to contact me directly and ask for my review (which is really just my opinion), so I'm going to offer what help I can.

message 14: by Cora, Tea Party Princess (new)

Cora Tea Party Princess (corazie) | 661 comments Mod
My review style has changed a lot since I first started out actually reviewing. I'm a lot more honest and open with what I like and what I don't like.

I'd never go personal, never say anything about the author, but if the book's bad, I'll let people know that's what I think. I know there are a few people out there with similar tastes who'd appreciate my warning of a not-so-good book.

message 15: by Jean (new)

Jean Hall I wrote quite a few reviews for the Readers' Favorite website. For that website's purposes there are no plot spoilers. In general, be honest and even-handed with a book review. If the book is super bad then be specific about its faults without getting personal or insulting to the author. The reader can tell your level of interest in the story.

message 16: by Alex (new)

Alex | 1 comments Don't just talk about WHAT you like or don't like, talk about WHY you do or don't like something in the book. Rather than saying "I liked the characters", say something along the lines of "the characters where interesting and believable". This gives your readers a much better idea of what they can expect from the book.

Avoid referring to other works for comparison as your readers may not be familiar with these other works. If you say "the story is similar to Harry Potter", that's probably okay as many people have at least a passing knowledge of the Harry Potter books. But if you say "the main character is similar to Penelope Clearwater", a lot of people will not know the reference and so will not find your comment informative.

Where possible, don't write a 100% good or 100% bad review. If you hated the book, try to point out any redeeming qualities that it had. If you loved the book, explain what stopped it from being absolutely perfect. Reviewing in this way serves two purposes. Firstly, it's very useful for the author. Showing the author what did and didn't work for you allows them to continue to develop their strengths and work upon their weaknesses. Secondly, writing in this way caters to review readers with different tastes. If you loved the book overall but point out that the writing style is a little sloppy, then people who are looking primarily for elegantly written prose will know to avoid it.

Lastly, a practical step when you are reading something for review is to write yourself notes as you go. These notes can be very simple, like "Good opening" or "Confusing dialogue", but doing this will make the review-writing process much easier when you have finished the book. Also, writing notes can help you to avoid the effects of outside influences on your review. If you're in a bad mood when you sit down to write your review, you may find yourself focusing on all of the negative elements of the book. But if you look back at your notes and find mostly positive statements, you may realise that the book is not to blame for your irritability.

message 17: by Mike (new)

Mike Dixon (mikedixon) | 2 comments I recently joined ReadersFavorite ( as a reviewer. My advice is check them out. There’s no need to join just check out the strict requirements of an organisation that is highly respected by a wide range of leading publishers.

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