Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Write Reviews

Authors need reviews. We need to know that our time behind the computer screen matters. A good review is like warm, gooey chocolate—savored and enjoyed. A poor review is like a water balloon to the face—it hits like a rock and soaks you with chills from head to toe. You might dry quickly, but it’s hard to forget.
That’s why, personally, I never give less than a four star review. I know how hard it is to write a book. I know how long it takes. I understand the dedication and discipline.
I think of the star ratings as a report card.
5 stars an A
4 stars a B
3 stars a C
And so forth.
If I think a book is less than a 4 star, I keep those thoughts to myself.  Unless I really hated the book, then I might spout off.  I think I’ve done that once. If I find mistakes, but still enjoyed the story, I will find a way to let the author know, because I know how easy it is to fix mistakes.
As a reader, I don’t believe that an author owes me a thing. This is especially true in today’s world of free, or nearly free, books. Every story is a gift that someone took the time to share. If I wanted to be a part, I stayed to read. If not, I put the book down.  Life is too short to waste time reading something I don't love.

For some, writing a review is hard, and for those who struggle, here are a few basic templates. Fill in the blanks.

For a romance:
I _____ (loved, liked, enjoyed, relished, adored, savored) this story. I found the hero ______ (scrumptious, delish,  yummy.) And the main character was ______ (delightful, brave, heroic, charming.) The plot kept me _____ (riveted, captivated, enthralled.) I found the dialogue ____ (witty, entertaining, heartwarming.) I thought I would swoon when______. And I was sad, but happy, when it was over.

For a mystery:
This story kept me _____ (on the edge of my seat, awake all night, captivated.) I thought the main character was _____ (resourceful, clever, ingenious.) The plot twists kept me ______ (in constant suspense, tied up in knots, in a sweat.) And when I close my eyes, I imagine the villain _____ (coming at me with a knife, lurking in dark corners, leering at me from the shadows.) I love it when the good guys win!

For a fantasy:
I found this world to be _____ (totally believable, fascinating, mesmerizing.) I loved the ______ (magical, legendary, mythical) characters and their quest for the_____ (mysterious, elusive, fabled) ______.

For a literary novel:
I found this story _____ (haunting, heartbreaking, inspiring.) The message stayed with me for days and colored my perspective in new and _____ (life-affirming, provocative, meaningful) ways. Because of this book, I now see life ______(differently, with a fresh mind set, with more compassion.)

The literati take reviews very seriously, but you are free to _____ (extoll, laud, praise, applaud.) 
Or not.

Here are snippets of three of my favorite reviews:
5.0 out of 5 stars
I read this through the night. As I read kept reading, I lost all track of time and only resurfaced at the end. I can't wait to see more adventures from this set of characters. Well done!
This review is from: On Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent (The Beyond series)

5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and fun historical romance
I thoroughly enjoyed Ms.Tate's book. From the very start I was held spellbound by Mercy's adventures. From beginning to end I was captivated by the suspense and romance.
This review is from: Stealing Mercy (Seattle Fire series)

5.0 out of 5 stars fast becoming an author for me to watch for in the contemporary mystery genre
In the second book that I have read from this author, she is fast becoming an author for me to watch for in the contemporary mystery genre. The Rhyme's Library is a clever murder mystery, rife with family and small-town secrets and an engaging, intelligent heroine at its center.
From The Rhyme’s Library
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