Misty and I had a lovely exchange yesterday on her post about ethics and characters doing stupid things. If you missed it, take a look back. I commented to her post (which was great, BTW) about a reviewer who had been attacking me and my character Jane Yellowrock, calling her (her decisions, her religious choices, her sex life, her…everything) and me, stupid and much worse
That post and exchange made me realize how important a review is to a book and a writer, and that some simple how-to-review-a-book rules might be helpful. Also, I hope you’ll offer some more suggestions in the comment area to round out the list.
1. Find something nice to say about a book.
2. Finish any book you review. Otherwise you are not giving *your* readers a fair shake.
3. Review the book you read, not the book you wish it was.
4. Remember that people know who you are and how to find you if they want. We live in a small world and violence is everywhere. I am not saying don’t stand up for what you believe—you must do that. But remember that kindness never hurt anyone, but bitchiness speaks for itself and pushes people away from you. In the same way, a writer can’t respond to unkind reviewers because we are easy to find. We just have to live with cruelty.
5. Remember that others may feel differently from you and if they dispute your review, keep your head and reply only after the anger passes.
6. If the book crosses an ethical line, be sure to say so, but in non-judgmental ways. EX: “If you are into bestiality, this is the book for you. If not, may I suggest you look elsewhere for your reading pleasure.”
7. A review is not a critique. I can’t say what the difference is, but it’s there. Anyone have thoughts about that?
1. To paraphrase one of my fave songs, don’t be cruel. If you can’t say anything at all nice, just say it wasn’t a good read and that you can’t recommend it to other readers. In the case of a review, less cam be more. Of course the caveat to that is number 6 above.
2. Make the book or the review about you. It isn’t personal. Don’t make it so.
3. Attack the writer. Never say something like, “Come on Faith Hunter. You can do better.” Or “Faith Hunter failed.” Or, “Faith Hunter disappointed me. This book is horrible.” The book isn’t about you. Nor is it about the writer. It’s about the book. The book itself.
4. Attack the writer about the cover or title. Midlist writers of commercially published books don’t get much input into their covers and most of us don’t get control of our titles.
5. Say other books by other writers are better and then list them. Review this book here, and those books on those pages.
6. Give spoilers unless you put a huge “SPOILERS!” notice on the page at the top.
So – what are your thoughts. What do you like and dislike about a book review? What do you suggest we add to the do and don’t list? Or do you disagree with my thoughts? Share yours.