Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Writing Reviews

No, this is not another post about how I wish more people would review my books. This is about my reviews. I feel as though I’ve become a harsher reviewer over the last few years. Even when I really like a book, my comments tend to focus on the weaker aspects. This is bad because part of the reason I starting writing reviews was to support other authors. I hate to think I might have offended a few in the process.

Recalling more easily my negative thoughts seems to be an unfortunate side effect of reading my own books. I lost track of how many times I reread the last one before I released it, each time hoping to find a way to make improvements. I’m afraid I read other books like this now, too. Even when I’m completely engrossed in an enjoyable story, part of me is wondering how it could have been even better.

Of course “better” is entirely subjective, as is the nature of all reviews, so I’m not trying to attach any particular importance to my own opinions. I’m simply trying to explain why sometimes even a 5-star review will point out something I didn’t love. I’m going to try to be better at keeping my reviews balanced. But in the meantime, I thought I’d spell out what the stars mean to me as a general impression of the book without regard to nitpicky observations.

5 stars – I enjoyed this one so much that I immediately went back and reread my favorite parts to keep it from being over. I probably read at least part of this book while I was supposed to be doing something else, like sleeping.

4 stars – I’m glad I read this and might still be thinking about it after I finished. There was something possibly indescribable about it that made it easier to put down than a 5 star book.

3 stars – I still liked this book, but there was at least one part that sort of bugged me. Maybe there was a character who got on my nerves or a plot point that didn’t quite make sense. I may have skipped a paragraph here or there to get through it, but I cared enough to find out how it ended.

2 stars – I found less that I liked than I didn’t. It may not be a bad book, but it wasn’t for me.

1 star – There was something inherently wrong with this book. It may have had hideous grammar or offensive content. I generally stop reading and move on rather than bother with a review for something that fits these criteria. Fortunately, I haven’t come across all that many anyway.