LIVING THE DREAM, Part 21: Reviews — Balancing Praise with Honesty

June 21, 2018

Do you remember writing book reports for school?  Well, if you were like I was, your paper was a blow-by-blow ‘he did, she did’. And, most likely, you dashed it off, in full-out ‘panic mode’ on the night before it was due at the beginning of your first-period class. Ratchet that tension tenfold if you had to read it in front of the whole class.

Now that I’m an author, I appreciate the value of leaving customer reviews of fellow authors’ books as a means of supporting them. I now understand the importance of positive (preferably five-star) reviews of my book to make it more visible than other books in its genre. When I’ve asked new readers to follow up by leaving a positive review of FROM HER MOTHER’S ARMS, if they enjoyed it, I’ve watched their faces blanch and their eyes glaze.

Sometime, somewhere, I have perceived that some are translating  ‘book review’ as ‘book report‘, causing them to run screaming to the four corners of the world, never to be heard from again.

What does a customer review of a book consist of?  Basically, it’s the reader’s brief assessment of the book tempered with praise and honesty.

Speaking of honesty, Beth Barany, a Creativity Coach, Creator of the  Writer’s Fun Zone website and Author of  “How to  Write and Get Great Reviews — with Examples of Book Reviews” recommends looking for one, two, three, or four-star reviews in order to look at the “worst” parts of a book before punching back with the best. Pointing out the worst and following up with the best is rather like a boxer’s “one-two punch”  only with different numbers. After enumerating her steps, Barany offers tips for writing good and honest reviews of books they read and examples of great reviews.

Barany’s advice to the potential reviewer is comprised of the following six points to include in a review:

  •  types of booksthey usually read
  • the mostpleasing part and the feelings they  got while reading it
  • element or elements (such as character, plot, etc) that worked for them
  • the least pleasing part FOLLOWED BY the most pleasing part (that made them forget the parts they didn’t like)
  • who might like this book

Remember, longer doesn’t equal better. According to Barany, reviews should be limited to  300-500 words.

If you need examples to back up these points, see the rest of Beth Barany’s article on  “How to Write and Get Great Reviews — with Examples of Book Reviews”. While you’re at it, browse the whole website.

Until next time, stay tuned for the next LIVING THE DREAM segment.