January 11, 2015

How To Write A Critical Review The Right Way.

    Part of being a blogger is having to write bad or critical reviews. In my experience, some people have a little trouble doing that. It's not that they can't write a bad review, it's just that they don't do it correctly. There is a difference between tearing a book apart for the heck of it then there is looking at the book critically and pointing out flaws. The difference is that when you critically review a book, you suggest ways it could be better. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen "this book was terrible" or been told that about a book and it being left at that. I am going to tell you five things to keep in mind when critically reviewing a book that will make your life a whole lot easier.

 
1. BE RESPECTFUL

   When authors say that they welcome good and bad reviews, that doesn't mean that they want you to tear apart their book with disrespect. They mean that they welcome critical and respectful reviews. Like I mentioned before, there is a difference between "I hated this book" and "this book, while the concept had promise, did not interest me". Nowhere in your review should you use the adjectives terrible, horrible, bad, gross, etc. That is very disrespectful and mean. You are not only being disrespectful to the author who wrote the book you are calling terrible, but also to the publisher who published the book. A review isn't just to help readers decide to read a book or not; a review is also helpful to authors because they can read your review to see what readers want to see, how to improve their future books, etc. that is why simply saying a book was bad isn't only disrespectful, but also unhelpful. You are not only hurting the author’s feelings, but also hindering them from improving. When you are giving a bad review suggest ways that aspect could be different or improved. If you didn’t like something in the book do not bash it; simply say that that certain thing in the book didn’t capture your attention or make you feel anything. There are a million different ways to express your disappointment in something while still being respectful.

 2. Think of the fans

   Books have fans who are very passionate and protective of the books they love. There have been many fights between fans and bloggers because someone can't be respectful, believe me, I know. You never want to anger fans because that is the quickest way to lose respect and viewers. A little piece of advice: when you say a book is "horrible" and those that read it "have no taste" you have crossed a line from being a reviewer to being a jerk. NEVER EVER say something like that. You will end up looking an immature reviewer that doesn't have anything helpful to say. You are not judging the readers on their taste in books; you are judging the book itself.

 3. Be critical and complementary

   It is possible to write a bad review and still be complementary. In fact, it is better that way. While you point out things you didn't like in a respectful manor, also point out the things you did like. The author of that book deserves to know that they did well in some areas even though others need work.

 4. Critical ARC reviewing.

   Advanced reader copies or ARCs of books are given out for honest reviews. Don't be afraid to give them a bad review. When you lie about your opinion of the book, you are harming the publisher and author. Publishers need to know what you think of their books so that they can change the books they represent accordingly. Publishers and authors don't want to be lied to.

 5. This tip is for the fans reading critical reviews of the books they love.

   You must understand that not everyone shares your taste in books. The beauty of being human is our diversity in all things, including taste. You cannot get angry with someone for giving their honest and respectful opinion. If someone is being disrespectful then you need to politely tell them that they need to be more respectful, not only to the author, but to the fans of the book. Never forget that not everyone can love a book as much as you. Be respectful and understanding when reading those critical reviews. There is no reason to fight for nothing.

   Basically, a critical review boils down to being respectful. Authors are people too and they are sharing their book, their baby, with the world to be judged. How would you feel if you wrote a book that you put your heart into and a reviewer said that your book sucked and that it should never have been published? Pretty terrible, right? Authors have to deal with this every day. Respect is vital to being a great blogger. If you are respectful and thoughtful and your reviews are helpful then publishers might be more likely to send you ARCs of books.

   I hope these five tips help you in your reviews and that you took something away from this. If you have any more suggestions then leave them in the comments below!

 Be respectful and read on!

- Ivey