BOOK REVIEW ETIQUETTE TIP #1: Don’t be a self-promoting smarty pants.
The following is not meant to mock fellow reviewers. The goal is to quote portions of questionable Amazon reviews in order to point out how to ultimately write a better book review. In the interest of all involved, the reviewers shall remain nameless…
The excerpts provided below are from one reviewer, but of various books. The writer’s tone immediately struck me as off-putting. It’s important to note a standard convention of review writing is to minimize the use of “I” within the text. After all, writing a review isn’t all about you!
I couldn’t get in to the characters, and I’ve read, as someone with a doctorate, super complicated books in English and French.
While I, @name on Twitter, am an author, and actually love some of the [series name] books this one was the biggest disappointment.
The book moved along quickly and I finished it in less than five hours total; which means it’s YA to me. The vocab, the plot line, it’s all just too easy, so you can rapidly read through it. I did notice some typos, but for an Indie book, not enough to care about all that much.
The other books have so many flaws, I never have had the energy to write reviews for them, but since I’ve been helping Indie Authors on Twitter under my @name moniker, I thought I should start slogging away on reviews…
As an avid reader, published author, and some one like, who has an MFA; and is currently promoting indie authors on Twitter as @name I’m giving this book five stars with the caveat…
Today’s featured reviewer above mentions their Twitter handle relentlessly. It’s a thin ruse for promoting indie authors, when in reality it’s just a ploy to shove their name in a potential reader’s face. That alone makes the reviews difficult to stomach, but when coupled with the reviewer’s smarty pants tone, most readers will be unlikely to seek out material written by that reviewer.
Lesson Learned: Readers of reviews don’t care about you, your degrees, your own books, your Twitter presence, or your speed-reading capabilities. What review readers care about are the strengths and weaknesses in a potential read, which frankly don’t have a damn thing to do with your personal lot in life. Good review writing should speak for itself and not need you to be your own best cheerleader.
But then again, what do I know? I only earned a mere master’s degree…
What pet peeves do you have when it comes to writing book reviews?
Please share the image in this post responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2012.
Image Credit: Woman Reading A Book by Petr Kratochvil
People try to do self promotion in every way possible. Too much of it and they will scare the potential customers away with their own actions.
Keep writing Jeri.
Thanks for the encouragement 🙂
I understand the anxiety and impatience behind excessive self-promotion, but horrible attitudes drive away customers, and sometimes allies. Good post!
Thanks for the comment and stopping by my blog.
Those examples were spot on! As soon as I see “I’ve got a doctorate” or “I’m very well read” or “I’m an expert on….” I stop reading the review.
Reading bad reviews on Amazon is quickly becoming an obsession of mine!
You are right, book reviews should be about the book with a few references to the author for writing it. If the reader want to know more they can go to the author’s page or click on the reviewers name.
Good article. I was curious about the title since I just said something very similar in my last post. I agree completely that the review is a depiction of the book and not a synopsis of the reviewer. I will continue to check you out.
I simply see red when reviewers promote themselves at the sake of writing a decent review!
Spot on, my friend. I think many writers, not just book reviewers, fall into that trap and it can be off putting, can’t it?
Agree! Same thing goes not just for books. I hate reviews that are in ALL CAPS, too!
Natalie, thanks for visiting. It’s a pleasure to meet a new commenter. Merry Christmas!
Great article, Jeri. Some reviewers even create lists (like Authors Behaving Badly) on Goodreads to push their weight around, leaving incomplete bad reviews on 200+ books. I just complimented a reader who left an honest and clear 2-star review of my book on Goodreads. She took time to articulate what she liked and disliked. And took time to read the book.
But authors have to do their part as well by putting their best work out there, and must be receptive to criticism as as well as praise.
C.D., thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’ve been on GoodReads for about a year and a half, but I’m just starting to explore it more in depth. I think it totally throws some people off track when a writer compliments a reviewer for giving valuable criticism. Critical feedback is so valuable, in any area.
As a new reviewer but avid reader – it was very helpful to read your post. You’re right, I have read way too many reviews that are all about the writer not the book written. It is obviously just their way of self promotion and they aren’t really helping the book at all.
J, thanks for stopping by. I think it really shows when a writer enjoys writing reviews. There should be no need for the reviewer to try to further their own interests in the context of the review itself. Why so many reviewers don’t realize their writing speaks for itself has always floored me.
So many book reviewers do give out a lot of crap. Sometimes, I have seen even terrible books being given 4 and 5 stars and some generic comments. I really doubt those reviewers. Some people always crib as if critiquing a book means criticising a review. Looking to more such posts.
Lata, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. It is rather disheartening when books are given great reviews, but only have generic comments written about them. My general approach is to read a couple of the two and three start reviews first in order to gauge whether or not I would potentially want to read a book.
I always try to keep that I out of the review, unless some experience I’ve had is terribly relevant to the book under question. But it can be difficult. Some people believe a review should never contain any first-person language. I wouldn’t go that far, but yeah, the examples you provide, Jeri, are super annoying. “means it’s YA to me” is really obnoxious, as is “and I’ve read, as someone with a doctorate, super complicated books …” Ugh.
My biggest pet peeve is the unrelenting logrolling in reviewing, particularly among friends — someone reviewing his/her friend’s book. And I don’t mean only on Amazon; I’m talking newspaper reviews and in major online outlets. It’s been talked about so much that I can’t add anything new to the discussion, but it continues, and I see it everywhere. It’s duplicitous, and it does a disservice to readers.
David, I too definitely side with keeping that I out. At times I like to go into the reviews of classic literature posted on Amazon just to read all the stupid personal reasons people post for not liking a book.