Keep the good stuff coming! 😉 I’m happy to shine a 24 hour spot light on my friend and fellow author, Natasza Waters!
She’s telling you a little about reviews today.
Reviewing with a supportive word and honest feedback. Here’s how.
Reviewing can be a tough gig, but it doesn’t have to be. There is a formula you can follow. As an author and a professional reviewer, I’ve given and I’ve received. Authors take a lot of time to write a book. A review can give them feedback and perspective they may not have seen. Writing a novel usually means numerous edits, but their minds can be deep in the core of a book and not see it from a larger perspective by the time it’s published. As a reader you can give them honest feedback. Goodreads, for example, is a wonderful platform to do just that, but dumping a star rating, especially a low one, with no explanation doesn’t help. As a reader you need to share your thoughts. It doesn’t have to be extensive or complex.
Guideline number one: never write a review after some jerk cuts you off on your way home from work or the family pet leaves a torpedo on your living room carpet. You might think I’m kidding, but in fact our emotions and outlooks change throughout the day. I always put twenty-four hours between reading the last page and writing the review.
Reviews should be broken down into three parts:
First Part: Summarize the novel
You don’t have to retell the story. For example I’ll use Code Name: Ghost.
Kayla Banks is a Canadian warfare analyst who accepts a job with the US Navy. She’s leaving a dark and violent past behind her. When the Commander of the West Coast SEALs takes a dislike to her, she tries to ignore it and the handsome leader who reminds her she’s still a woman. Timing is everything, and Kayla’s is always bad when a serial killer puts her in his cross-hairs forcing the Commander to protect her.
Second Part: Dissect what was done right and what needs polishing
Here lies the guts of your opinion. Good, bad or ugly, but make sure your facts are correct. The one thing an author dislikes is when a reader points out things that are inaccurate. I had one reviewer who disliked the book say, “I mean really, a Commander is higher in rank than a Captain.” Umm, no it’s not. Another I saw was, “I loved the story but there were so many POV shifts I got confused.” I think you are confused. The POV shifts occurred at chapter changes or scene changes which are standard publishing rules.
If you review a book, the more professional it is, the more people will follow your reviews. Break it down into elements of story writing. You can choose some or a few such as: Dialogue (real or rough), Arc (Was there one, and did the story achieve what it set out to tell), Character Development (Characters changed or remained the same), Grammar, Sentence structure, Plot, Pace, Twists, Black moments, Believability, Facts (Did the historical relay things accurately), was there a beginning, middle and end. There are numerous elements to review.
Remember to keep it benign and to the facts. Authors understand that not everyone will love their book, but even if they receive a low rating, the review can also tell a lot about the reader. Let’s review a book I didn’t like. (Note: in professional reviews we don’t use words such as I or you. We keep it neutral, but if you’re writing a personal review, then personalize at will.
Although I love military romance, especially SEAL stories, I found Code Name: Ghost a little too realistic. Many times I was saddened with the heroines PTSD and frustrated by her actions. She wanted the hero but pushed him away too often. The rest of the characters became so real I felt like I was right there with them in the story which had a fast pace, but centered more on the hero and heroine than it did the serial killer. There were suspenseful moments, but not a lot of bread crumbs to figure out who the killer is. Ms. Waters writes an intelligent story, but I prefer a little more romance and steam in my novels. The dialogue between the characters swung from funny to engrossing and kept me entertained. Code Name: Ghost ends in a cliff hanger which I’m not a fan of, but I look forward to book two.
Third Part: Leave a positive thought
Even in a book you weren’t satisfied with there is always something positive to say. I’ve reviewed numerous books and even those that need extensive polishing have good points.
Overall I enjoyed Code Name: Ghost. I learned things I didn’t know about Navy life, and look forward to the other character’s stories.
Above all else, remember that although while reviewing a book you do it from the safety of your computer, being polite and drafting intelligent reviews reflects the reviewer not the book reviewed. Be impartial. Be honest and both reviewer and author will benefit.
Award winning and bestselling author