Time to share the blogging wisdom.
I am kidding. There’s no wisdom here. It’s a lot of trial and error. I started blogging almost 8 months ago (!!!), so I feel that in that time, I managed to accumulate a decent amount of experience when it comes to blogging. And since reviews are my favorite posts (and least popular, but oh well) I thought I’d give you some pointers that worked for me in writing reviews. If you’re looking for some other advice for new bloggers, I’ll direct you to my lovely friend Mikaela’s post which is awesome. And so is her whole blog. So let’s get on with it, shall we?
1. Recaping the Plot
This might be a bit controversial, but I never recap plots in my reviews. There are two main reasons for this. Number 1: I personally don’t like knowing the plot before I read the book. Usually, I like to see just the main jist of the book, the premise itself. That’s why I always include a sentence or two on the book’s set up. And make those sentences stand out. Make them attention grabbing, while making them vague enough in case your readers are like myself and don’t want to know. Number 2: It’s unnecessary. What I’ve learned is that people who click on your reviews and read them are usually people who are already interested in the book, meaning they already know the basic premise (this is also one of the reasons why reviews are generally less popular posts).
The take away: Recap the plot in a couple of striking sentences and then move on.
2. Separate the Review into Coherent Sections
I feel like a lot of people make the mistake of writing messy reviews. This is especially true for positive reviews. They lack structure, because people just spew out their thoughts and don’t really organize them. Your review should be separated into different sections. Find a structure that works for you, and then follow it for every review you write. The one I do is usually: two sentences about the plot, then my feelings on the plot, then the characters, then the writing, and then I summarize everything. This makes your review a lot easier to follow, and it keeps the reader engaged longer. It also helps you as a reviewer to organize your thoughts and decide how you really feel about the book.
The take away: Work out a structure and then stick to it.
3. Justify Your Review
This is mostly related to negative reviews, but it really works for any review. When you write a review, and you declare that you like something or dislike it, back those sentiments up. Give reasons to your readers. Explain exactly why this book did or did not work for you. Back it up in actual plot points, or character arcs or direct quotes for that matter. Always back up your attitudes. It helps the reader work out if the book might work for them (if you share the same views on certain subjects) and it helps them understand exactly what is going on. This might be hard at times. Explaining exactly why you felt a certain way. But that’s the whole point of reviewing and it’s something you should work on.
The take away: Have justification for your feelings.
4. Separate the Good From the Bad
It’s hard to find faults in books we like, and it’s also hard to find virtues in books we dislike. But I find that it’s important to point those out, if you see them. Be prepared to criticize the work you loved, and also be prepared to give praise where praise is due. If I did not like a book, but there are aspects of it that I think were well executed, I will always say so. The same goes for books I like. If there are things that are problematic, speak up. It’s so important. I actually did a whole post on that topic, and you can check it out HERE, if you’re interested. Also, this ties in with the second advice on structure. Talk about likes first, and then mention dislikes. It keeps things clear.
The take away: Give both praise and critique where it’s due.
5. Be Honest
This is closely related to the previous one, but in a broader scope. Always be honest. I think people are usually iffy on the honesty part, especially when they get books for review. You feel bad about disliking a book you got for review, so you tend to dance around the subject of it not being very good. I get that sentiment, but you have to work on suppressing it. You owe it to the people who are reading your reviews to be honest. And it helps publishing. Publishers are looking for honest reviews. Always be respectful, but always keep it real. Also, don’t be afraid of disliking popular books. My reviews used to be so skewed, because I was unprepared to dislike popular books. So I always reviewed them more positively than they deserved. Again, suppress that sentiment. Be honest no matter what book you’re reviewing. It will help you grow as a reviewer, and also people will appreciate the honesty.
The take away: Honesty is key.
6. Format, Format, Format
Formatting is so important. People usually don’t realize that. But keeping your review (or any post for that matter) visually pleasing is so important. WordPress is very friendly when it comes to formatting, so why not use it? Use bold letters, use italics, use different colors. Take advantage of the paragraphs and use those headings. Make your review reader friendly. I always tend to get annoyed when I see just a block of text without any formatting. The first thing someone sees when they open your review is how it looks. So keep it pretty. Make it visually appealing to your readers, so it keeps them interested and engaged. Grab their attention by the surface, and then keep their attention with the quality of your reviews.
The take away: Make your reviews pretty.
So that’s it for this post! Please, please, please let me know if this was helpful to you in any way, shape or form, and be sure to leave your reviewing tips in the comments below! And if you’d like to see advice on a certain topic, be sure to let me know!
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*Above used Book Depository links are affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you buy a book through my link, which helps me out a lot!