Book Review Etiquette by Paula Hrbacek

Authors can’t sell books without reviews.  Especially now that a lot of authors are going the self-published route, book reviews are crucial elements that authors seek and crave.  Well, good reviews are craved.

Recently, there has been a trend for readers to post reviews before they have even read the book.

“A fellow author recently received the following ONE star review: I did not read it I just downloaded it,” says Raebeth Buda, author of ‘Silenced’ and host of the Writing World web site.  “Last year I also got a ONE star review that said, “I haven’t read it yet, I will leave a review when I do” They have yet to review it. That star has been sitting there hurting my rating ever since. And with only 10 ratings on that particular site, it hurts LOT.”

It hurts the author because most book review sites give an average star rating, figuring all the reviews into one score.  It’s like getting straight A’s all semester, and then getting one F that pulls your grade average down to a C.

“It seems like common sense, but I think more people need to be aware of how much needless one star reviews can hurt. It’s great you bought the book, it’s great you intend to review it. But leaving a one star “placeholder” hurts the author much more than leaving no review at all.” Buda says.

Stars on a book review are pretty much equal to the five point grading system used in schools.  A five star rating is the same as an A on an essay.  It means you thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Four stars means the book was enjoyable, but had a few faults.  A three star rating means the book barely passed.  Anything below three stars warns other readers to pass the book by and buy something else.  A one star rating means the author should not have published the book in the first place.

When writing a review for a book, the reader should give a summary of the story to let the next reader know what the subject of the book is about.  It also lets the reader know that the reviewer did in fact read the book.  It should then point out the book’s virtues and weaknesses.  Is it well paced?  Does the plot make sense?  Are the clues foreshadowed, or does the answer appear out of nowhere?  Are the characters believable and likeable?  Is it well researched?

The conclusion of the review then gives an overall reaction to the book: it was a pleasant read, it was a page turner, I couldn’t put it down, I highly recommend the book, I can’t wait for the next one.  The conclusion of the review should not be what is called a “spoiler”: the butler did it.  It’s acceptable to say that the ending was surprising, but not to say what the surprise actually was.

So, please, write your reviews, but follow the rules and format of a good review.  Even if your opinion is bad, every review posted should be good in quality, helpful to other readers, and a true reflection of the reader’s opinions.

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Paula Hrbacek is the author of five books including: Stars Shine After Dark, a sweet Christian romance, available in paperback, Kindle and Nook, and Day Camp in Hawaii, a complete program guide for summer camp or summer school, available in paperback, Nook and Kindle.  For more information see http://paulahrbacek.weebly.com or her author page at https://www.amazon.com/author/paulahrbacek. She also writes two columns for The Examiner, a free online newspaper; Children’s Arts and Crafts, and Book Reviews.

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Toi Thomas

I like reading, writing, cooking, dancing, movies, and music. I'm a big kid and choose to see the world in my own special way. Yes, I'm educated, but I haven't let that stop me from being who I want to be. I'm a wife, teacher, author, blogger, and more.