The Bad Good Review

diamond star tiara twelve point

When one writes books for a living, a good review can be a godsend. But there is a type of review which is good, but bad.  Allow me to explain.

  • You like a book and give it 5 out of 5 stars. That’s good.
  • You don’t explain why. That’s bad.

A review helps people find books that they will like and avoid books they won’t. I firmly believe that 75% of books written could be successful good books, if they reached the right people. The problem is getting the people to find the book right for them. This where reviews come in.

If I love a book, I tell you why. If I hate it, I tell you why.  Now, you might disagree with my review, but it at least informs you about the book and helps you discern whether it’s a book that’s right for you.

One need not give away plot details to laud or excoriate a read. It doesn’t even take much time to review a book. In fact, you can give any book the perfect 5-point review in 30 words or less. Just follow this template.

  1. I found the pacing (exciting, just right, a bit slow, terrible).
  2. I was (disappointed, interested, fascinated) by the characters.
  3. The plot twists were (predictable, amazing,  ridiculous).
  4. This book would be perfect for (romance, sci fi, history) readers.
  5. This book would be deadly for (feminists,  people who dislike violence/sex/obscene language).

If a book has typos or grammatical oddities, I tend to overlook them because my interest is the story. If they are really bad and seem unintentional, I might send a note to the author. It’s not something I mention in a review because it rarely bothers me. If it bothers another review enough to mention it, I tend to assume that reviewer is a frustrated, unpublished, probably jealous writer (or holds an English degree but is now working a job he/she considers beneath him/her).

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5 thoughts on “The Bad Good Review

  1. Well said, LB! And my sympathies. Now I know what has driven you to drink. I too was once a red-pen wielding wraith, one so savage that my specific purpose at the publishing house was to review the work of copy editors they wished to axe and find just cause. The work became so bloody and Grimm, eventually I had to pencil myself out. No one was sad to see me go. I was overly fond of the word irregardless and kept an obscenely large post of a greyhound in WWI flying googles and scarf above my cold, grey, mist-filled cubicle.

  2. One of my (opposably thumbed) typists is an editor and spends all day at the buzz-killing activity of finding other people’s mistakes. It actually provides some perspective on language and makes her more flexible with her own writing. Some editors don’t find this, though–they get increasingly inflexible and even react to new language with hostility. I remember one editor we know said she would never use the word “bling” because it was a disgrace. But I love that language is organic and accommodates words like that. There’s something “bling” says that “jewelry” just can’t say. And that’s cool.

  3. Ah, I understand. 🙂

    Yes, perfectionism can be the very anti-thesis to creativity, I definitely agree with that! Thank you for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate hearing (reading) your view! 🙂

  4. I have many friends who are deeply bothered by imperfections of the printed word — most of whom are frustrated writers and people with English degrees. I was teasing them with that last line.

    In the past, you are right, a published work would have been through many rounds of editing, spell checks, and proof readings, done by many different sets of eyes. However, that isn’t what happens today.

    Today, many best-selling authors are self-published. These books tend to have more flaws. But the reading public has voted with their wallets. They don’t care. They like the story, so they pay for it — warts and all.

    Perfectionism can be a serious buzz kill. It’s a trait from which I daily try to break free.

  5. I enjoyed reading this, and I agree with you that a review makes all the difference. Five star ratings without reviews (or even a note) are reviews I overlook while scanning for new reads.

    However, I am a bit saddened to see your, in my opinion, rather harsh comment regarding people who are bothered by flawed grammar and typos in books. I am neither “a frustrated, unpublished, probably jealous writer”, nor do I “hold a English degree but am now working a job I consider beneath me.”. I am simply bothered by it, the same way you are not.
    I can’t explain it, really, but it nags at me. Like a chafing in my eyes.
    (Not that I am not the queen of typos. I am! I just feel that something that has been published should have gone through the proper spell checks and proof readings to NOT be ridden with typos etc.)

    I sincerely do not mean to be rude, or in any way inconsiderate – and I accept, understand and respect your opinion. I just wished to offer my own perspective on this – in a way rather similar to my way of reviewing. I am open to replied via email! 🙂

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