I had an author friend asking for advice on her Instagram page. She’d won a collection of indie author books and stated that she was going to read each one and review each of them. In my opinion, that’s pretty great since the most challenging thing as an independent author is to garner reviews for their books. 

However, she came across something that she hadn’t expected. Admittedly, she probably should have expected it. She found that not all the books she received were good.  

Not every book you read is going to be good. When starting a new book, you should treat the book like it’s part of James Patterson’s collective body of work. While it could be as amazing as Patterson during his 90’s era when titles like Along Came a Spider, Kiss the Girls, and Pop Goes the Weasel, you might end up getting a stinker of a book like his current era of writing. 

It’s easy to make fun of and critique James Patterson because he’s turned himself into more of a brand than an actual author now, which is an entirely different type of article. If I were to write a review of Patterson’s newest book and tagged all of his social media accounts, I’m 90 percent certain that he would never see that review. Maybe his social media team might glance at it when they are sitting on the toilet and scrolling through the thousands of notifications his pages receive. Patterson’s got better things to do than to read a review from a no-name author like me. 

Now let’s say that I read a book by an indie author. And let’s say that the book was terrible, in my opinion. And then, let’s further say that I write an honest review about the book expressing all of the critiques that I noticed. If I were to post that review and tag the author on all of their social media profiles, I’m 90 percent certain that the author will read it.  

I’ve actually had that happen before and it always is flattering when the author reads, comments, or likes my reviews.  

You shouldn’t be afraid by writing and posting reviews. Honestly, every review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites helps authors. The single worst thing that you can do for indie authors is to not leave a review. Okay, the actual single worst thing that you can do is not buy their book, but you get what I mean.  

Let’s amp up the situation. My author friend added that she also knew the authors to the books she didn’t particularly like. If she were to post these reviews, the authors would certainly see them. 

I messaged my author friend with my suggestions about how to go about leaving reviews even though the authors might see them. So, I thought I’d also share that advice with you. 

Tip 1: Start off by talking about what you liked the most. There is always something that you will like. Then, when you’re done talking about what you liked most, work your way down the ladder. Next, talk about what you liked, but could’ve been better, then talk about what things that didn’t quite meet your expectations. Finally, head to the parts of the book that you absolutely didn’t care for. If you start off with the things you hated, then your readers might skip the rest of the review and miss out on things that might get them to read the book for themselves. 

Tip 2: Don’t be cruel! There’s enough cruelty in the world, and even more online. You shouldn’t be adding to it by being cruel in a review. There’s a difference between being critical and being cruel. Being critical of a novel means that you’re providing opinions that critique the original work in hopes that the author learns and grows to be a better writer. Being cruel of a novel means that you just don’t care about potential in a novel and that you only care about bashing the author over the head with their flaws. 

Don’t be cruel, be critical. 

Tip 3: Make sure to leave a review! Reviews on Amazon and other sites like that not only help potential readers choose whether to read the book, it helps the author by providing feedback on what went right and what went wrong. As I stated above, Indie authors will benefit the most from these reviews, so, if at all possible, review them first and then focus on people like Patterson and King. Those mainstream authors don’t need your review. The Indie authors do.  

It’s funny. I hear everyone talking about Shop Small, Shop Local, Don’t Shop Big Retail… etc, etc, etc. However, I see more people reading the big time authors like King, Patterson, Clare, etc… 

I went to see The Devil Conspiracy (2023) last Thursday and I didn’t care for most of it. There weren’t any big-time actors, and they weren’t part of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). However, it had one of the craziest plots I’ve seen in a while. So, for that reason I enjoyed it. It won’t make the top ten at the box office, but I admire the film for the plot’s boldness. 

In conclusion, (btw all you college and high school students, never conclude your essay with “In conclusion”) don’t be afraid to give your honest opinion about books. In reality, don’t be afraid to give your honest opinion about anything. Just don’t be cruel about it. You might catch more flies with honey than vinegar, but if you’re cruel you might just end up catching a few fists to the face.  


One response to “Reviewing Advice”

  1. snarebox Avatar

    Good advice, this is something I’ve found challenging too. There’s a whole genre of review writing in which those writing the reviews are attempting to write the most scathing and humiliating article possible for entertainment. There’s rarely anything of substance in such reviews and there’s little chance their target will even read them.

    There’s a weird dance that has to be done between raw objective criticism and a review that’s entertaining enough to be worth posting online. Doesn’t have to be cruel though.

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