Book Reviews 101
Book Reviews are an essential to an author because we rely on those reviews to work as an advertisement for our books. This is usually a good thing, but what has become more and more frequent is that reviewers and book clubs arenít doing their job and the author is the one feeling the pain of an incomplete job.
Some reviewers believe that a book review is simply a synopsis of the book. I say, ďNO,Ē because if the author wanted the synopsis, they would simply turn the book over and read the backónot ask the reviewer for ummmmÖa review.
Another mistake being made with reviews are that reviewers are telling the whole story instead of leaving the potential reader wanting to go purchase the book for themselves; whereas they are no longer interested since the reviewer has told the story.
Some reviewers are taking their personal gripes with the authors by publishing and posting bogus reviews because they are angry. This is more popular than the other two I have described. Once that bogus review is posted on a major website like Amazon.com, there is no taking it down and the whole World Wide Web sees this For the skeptical consumer, this is all they need to see and they will quickly go surf another authorís page.
I wanted to know what the correct definition was and conducted my own search. According to Wikpedia.com, a professional book reviewer should be doing is described below. I have to say I agree and if more reviewers did this, the literary world would be a better place. LOL
ďA book review is a form of literary criticism in which a book is analyzed based on content, style, and merit. It is often carried out in periodicals, as school work, or on the internet. Reviews are also often published in magazines and newspapers. Its length may vary from a single paragraph to a substantial essay. Such a review often contains evaluations of the book on the basis of personal taste. Reviewers, in literary periodicals, often use the occasion of a book review for a display of learning or to promulgate their own ideas on the topic of a fiction or non-fiction work. At the other end of the spectrum, some book reviews resemble simple plot summaries".
What a quality book reviewer should be doing:
Book reviews require special skills and oblige the reviewer with precise responsibilities. The professional reviewer does not just have to read and scrutinize the text, but to realize concealed, implied meaning the author obviously had dropped hints about. Skilled book reviewers' explanations make the reader feel confident in their perception of the book or change it entirely. The reviewer must also state the main points of the reviewed book. While some aspects are less meaningful, others have to be marked out as prerogative issues. The task is even more complicated as the writer could unintentionally imply the idea the reviewer of the book can notice.
Then the book reviewer has to decide upon the author's point's validity. The reviewer has to be the judge and say, ďDid the writer persuade the audience, or was his/her evidence insufficient and weak?Ē The reviewer here makes a judgment on the adequacy of the book topic to the content. The book review also evaluates the expertise of the content's authenticity. By comparing the reviewed book to other materials in the given category, the reviewer work implies potential danger for those writers who admit plagiarism. If the reviewer finds the book authentic and, perhaps, unique, the points and attitudes of the reviewer are discussed.Ē
In a perfect world, reviewers would do as Wikipedia describes but some will and some wonít.
This basic checklist is one I think that could be followed courtesy of GraceAnne Andreassi DeCandido.
Who is GraceAnne? Sheís just an editor and a book reviewer for Booklist and Kirkus reviews, and has been doing it for 19 years, so I think she knows a little bit about this topic. Judge for yourself.
A Book Reviewers Checklist
1. Read the whole book. That is the very least you owe the author. You canít make a judgment on what they have done until you know all of it.
2. Review the book in front of you, not the book you wish they had written. You can and should point out shortcomings or failures, but donít criticize the book for not being something it was never intended to be.
3. Donít review in genres with which you are uncomfortable. There is no point in having a science fiction hater review SF, or someone who doesnít read romances review them.
5. If possible, compare the book to others in the genre or field of study. That helps any reader.
6. Criticize clearly and specifically but gently. A bad book takes as long to write as a good one, and each book is someoneís baby. But a reviewer is charged to make a critical judgment, and fails if s/he does not do so.
7. Know the guidelines of your reviewing medium. Some donít want plot summaries at all; some insist on them. Some want you to say outright if you are recommending a book, others donít.
8. Be precise in your language. If this is the best book you have ever read, say so, and say why. If it is yet another nice little book on a nice little topic, say that, too. Find the words to say what you mean: the author did, and so should you.
9. Donít be cowed by a famous name. Even famous writers sometimes do mediocre books.
10. Donít review books by people you know, or love, or hate. It isnít fair. Only review a book once; do not review the same title for more than one venue. This ensures that people who are looking for multiple reviews with multiple opinions will actually get them.
Written by: Kisha Green
Edited By: Kenya Mack
SELF PUB BASICS 101
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