Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What NOT to Do When Reviewing Books

Reviewing books is not as easy as it sounds. There are things that you should avoid doing if you want to be read at all. Balance is key: you can’t gush all over the book and tell everyone how perfect it is; and you can’t rant and claim how you want to burn it either. Here are a few tips that you can look at and use as your guide while writing your book review.

1.Don't just write a summary. Amateur book reviewers often tell the story and forget to judge the book. If you want to tell the story again, write an abstract. If you want to be a reviewer, you need to provide insights into a book. You are a reviewer, not a parrot.

2.Don't give away the ending! Spoilers abound in many an amateur review. Don’t make yours part of the crowd, even if it seems funny.

3.Tantalize. Don't tell. You may not give away the ending, but you might find yourself giving away plot points left and right. Avoid the temptation to tell your readers all about the book. Aim to get your readers to pick up the book and judge it for themselves, whether or not you actually like the book.

4.Give reasons for your judgment – don’t just rant or rave. You might love the book and you may start whipping out your thesaurus to look for all the terms that mean “good”. On the other hand, you could hate the book immensely and have your temper fiery hot in every single word of your review. Whatever your emotions are, justify them. You need to tell your readers why the book is good or bad. The key word is “why.”

5.Watch your grammar! It makes no sense to critique a book if you can’t write well yourself. Start with basic rules of grammar and work your way into better writing.

6.Always consider the author's background; don’t separate the book and writer from each other. Some reviewers pick a book apart as though it were an inanimate thing. What every author knows is that a book is like a friend, even a baby that you slowly give birth to as you write and edit it. Authors always color their work, so do research on the author before writing your review. This is not to make you pity them and therefore write a good review. This is to help you understand why they write certain things, or in a certain way.

7.Don’t sound like you’re shouting your review out from the ivory tower. Reach out to your readers. Use simple words to describe how you feel about the book. If you start sounding boring and academic, step away, and then edit your work.

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