The Useful Review
by K.C. Sprayberry
I’ve been reading books all my life. A couple of years ago, I started reviewing those books and posting the reviews to Amazon and Goodreads. During blog tours, I’ve also had the reviews on my blog. The system I use is my own; I never looked for a special way to write a review.
The useful review is one that points out what makes the book good or bad. The person writing the review should keep a few things in mind when composing their thoughts on the book.
1. Be honest. Above all, be honest in your review. That’s not to say you should say this book is absolute crap, but don’t sugar coat problems you saw in it, such as the need for editing or that the story just didn’t work for you. If you are going to give a review lower than 4 stars, try and contact the author before posting the review. This contact isn’t to change your opinion but rather to explain why you feel the way you do. One of my policies is never to review a book lower than 3 stars, because the author has gone to a lot of work to produce their work. No matter how awful a book has been, I’ve always found something good to say about it.
2. Don’t rely on the blurb to set the tone for your review. I write my own blurbs of what I think the book was about. Sometimes they are close to what the author did, but mostly they’re different, presenting the book in a way that might attract other readers.
3. Open with what you think of the author’s strong points are for this story. Give the person a chance. They’re a person who has poured a part of their life into this book. I like to mention how the sentences and paragraphs flow from one to another first. Then I concentrate on the characters.
4. If there are major problems with the book, now is the time to concentrate on them. Point out how you believe the author could have done better in transitioning from one situation to another, or how the characters seemed a little too over the top. Character growth throughout a book is important to me. I always ask myself if the characters have learned from their experiences, and then I point out why I found this had failed.
5. End with a positive note, explaining why you can or cannot recommend the book. If this book is outside your comfort zone, this is the time to mention that. Often, a book outside our comfort zone never quite breaks through. For this reason, your review might not reflect what a person who likes that type of book might feel.
6. Finally, if you received a free copy for review, use a statement to that effect. A lot of people believe those who are paid, whether in money or a copy of a book, only give raving reviews of the book. That can’t be further from the truth, if you stick with rule one.
How useful are good reviews? The theory is a good review will garner more sales for the author. That has proven to be wrong sometimes. A bad review can also intrigue people, driving them to pick up the book to find out just why someone was so against it. This tends to have a domino effect, driving up sales when the purpose might have been to kill sales.
One thing to remember: The review process for books is a way for authors to gauge their work. A review designed to rip apart a book, to trash it, for any reason other than the reviewer didn’t like the book for whatever reason, will hurt a person. This is why I keep my reviews honest, but I always look for good points.
Check out KC’s new book, Evil Eyes
Lisa is so ready for a break from the grueling first semester of college. Along with five other friends, she returns to Landry, and hopes to have nothing but fun. Within days, one of the group is the victim of a vindictive stalker, and Lisa herself is now in the man’s sights. No matter what she does, she can’t shake this person.
Fred has a little problem, but he figures he can take care of it himself, if he achieves fame with his folk rock band, Olney-Oak Lane Sounds. Then he happens to see this beautiful woman, who turns out to be just like every other woman he’s met. He takes care of her, and is immediately drawn to Lisa. No one will get between Fred and Lisa, absolutely no one.
On Christmas Eve, Lisa has to fight for her life and sanity after Fred kidnaps her. She turns out to be very different from the other women, in a way he never figured.
The wind picks up, intensifying into a howl. Snow swirls in circles everywhere. Lisa hears John calling for her again. She turns around to tell him that they need the police, but stops when a strange voice echoes all around her.
“Lisa,” the man says. “I love you, Lisa. You’re mine forever.”
Lisa opens her mouth. All that comes out is a completely terrorized scream.
KC Sprayberry started writing young, first as a diarist, and later through an interest in English and creative writing. Her first experience with publication came when she placed third in The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge contest while in the Air Force, but her dedication to writing came after she had her youngest child, now in his senior year of high school.
Her family lives in Northwest Georgia where she spends her days creating stories about life in the south, and far beyond. More than a dozen of her short stories have appeared in several magazines. Five anthologies feature other short stories. She has three books that are Amazon best sellers: Softly Say Goodbye, Who Am I?, and Mama’s Advice. Her other novels available are: Take Chances, The Ghost Catcher, Family Curse … Times Two, Secret From The Flames, Where U @, The Wrong One, Pony Dreams, and Grace. Her adult romantic suspense novel, Starlight, will release on May 5, 2014.
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