Sunday, 27 July 2014

How To Write A Helpful Book Review

The Key Point That All Good Reviewers Are Aware Of


"...slow acoustic piano rubbish. 5/5"  A helpful review.
In the music press, when someone writes a negative review which proves unpopular with fans of the band, the reviewer will often defend their review by claiming that a review is just one person's opinion.

On the face of it, this seems fair enough, but what all reviewers need to realise is that no-one actually cares whether the reviewer enjoyed the book, movie or album, etc.  When I read a review all I care about is 'will I enjoy this book?'

To give an example, I remember a few years ago a favourite artist of mine released a new single which I hadn't yet heard, and I therefore asked my mate for his opinion on the song.  His reply was something along the lines of, "It's that slow acoustic piano rubbish...  You'll love it!"

It probably sounds as if he was being quite cheeky, but that wasn't his intention at all.  He simply understood the concept of a good review.  I wasn't interested in whether or not my mate enjoyed the song.  I just wanted to know whether I'd enjoy it.  And so my mate reviewed the song with that in mind and explained that it was that 'slow acoustic piano rubbish' which I happen to love.

When writing reviews for another blog which I run, Worthy Of A Bigger Audience, I try to adopt the same approach.  The blog features reviews of music, movies, books, TV shows and anything else which I feel is underrated and deserves a bigger audience.  Everything I review on the blog is therefore something which I've personally enjoyed, but I'm always aware of the fact that not everyone will share my opinion.  When writing reviews I therefore try to point out exactly what sort of audience the album, book, movie, etc, will appeal to, and conversely who might not judge it so enthusiastically.

Worthy Of A Bigger Audience.
Another blog by Charles Fudgemuffin.
A good book review will adopt the same approach and should realise that no-one cares specifically about the opinion of the reviewer.  To reiterate once again, when I read a review all I care about is whether or not I will enjoy it.

I have to admit that as an author it's a brilliant feeling when someone gives you a five star review, and conversely a negative review is always disappointing, but if you take the emotion out of the equation then the best review is one which provides a balanced report and tells both sides of the story.  The first review I ever received on Amazon was excellent in this respect, and recognised that 'How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy' will appeal to some readers, but other readers won't get the humour at all.

Finally, if any authors are reading this and you get a bad review, just remember that at the time of writing on amazon.co.uk, 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' has 41 one star reviews!  Of course it also has 1,335 five star reviews, but the point I'm making is that readers are all different and even the most popular books of all time won't appeal to everyone.  So although a negative review can be disappointing, you just have to remind yourself that variety is the spice of life and unfortunately that means no book will appeal to every reader.

. . . . . . . .

Update: As a follow-up post, I also took a light-hearted look at the pitfalls to avoid when writing a book review:
How Not To Write A Helpful Book Review


This article was the opinion of Charles Fudgemuffin, author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books.  At the time of writing, the first book in the series is currently available as a free download from Payhip and Amazon:
Free alien comedy book - Download from Payhip
Free alien comedy book - Download from Amazon

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About The Author

The 'How To Save The World' books
by Charles Fudgemuffin
Charles Fudgemuffin is the author of the alien comedy 'How To Save The World' books which are available for Kindle from Amazon.  The first book in the series is available from the following link:
How To Save The World: An Alien Comedy

As with all Kindle books, you can also download a free sample of the first few chapters.

Please note, the 'How To Save The World' books contain material suitable for ages 18+ and are not recommended for prudes or squares.