Discussion Post: The Right Way to Write Reviews?

Posted July 7, 2015 by Melissa in Discussion Post | 29 Comments

Right Way to Write Reviews

Is there a “right” way to write reviews?

I’ve struggled with this question for years and I really feel that in a way it held me back from writing as many reviews as I really wanted to write. I never felt that my reviews were professional…or did the books the justice that I felt was their due.

I kept comparing myself to other reviewers

My biggest issue was that I continually compared myself to other reviewers.

They analyzed the text better than I did: They delved deep into the subtext and metaphors. They compared the text to other works. Why couldn’t I dig deep and remember my College English days and review that way??

And then I had to remind myself…that I am not writing for a professional publication, I am not being paid to spend hours analyzing text! I am doing this as a hobby…FOR FUN…because I love books and want to share that love…

Their reviews had more energy than mine: So if I’m all about the love why are their reviews full of OMG’s and exclamation points and even endless GIFs. Why couldn’t I exude that same level of enthusiasm? Were my reviews too boring??

OK, so I am not an outgoing, loud person in general…so why should my reviews be that way…I can’t do justice to the book if I am not being myself…

My reviews were just too short: Most of all I was intimidated by the sheer length of a lot of the reviews that I read. How in the world did they all write such long reviews??

And then I really re-read those reviews and realized that most of the time…95% of the review was recap….and only the last line in each paragraph was actually an opinion or original thought. I don’t recap in my reviews….I just post the synopsis and then my thoughts…so of course that type of review will be longer…

So I let myself off the hook

I realized that I was being way too hard on myself and that if I wanted to continue blogging…I needed to make peace with my own reviewing style. So now I just write what and how I feel like. Sometimes my reviews are long, but most are not. Sometimes I write in paragraphs…sometimes I just outline some key points. Other times, I just write mini reviews. And that is ok.

The important thing is that I am sharing my thoughts and opinions. I don’t claim to be an expert…I don’t claim to be a professional.

And I’ve started enjoying blogging and writing reviews again 🙂

For me: There is no one right way to write a review!

Then I almost relapsed

And then I almost relapsed. I read another reviewer’s post and she mentioned that she was once again considering giving up blogging because she no longer has the desire to write “thoughtful” reviews. It got me thinking…are my reviews thoughtful enough…or am I just spouting a few opinions? Am I good enough to keep blogging?

Luckily, I caught myself and shut that line of thinking down quickly…but I’m sure it won’t be the last time I question myself.

So tell me…what kind of reviews do you write? And are you happy with your style or are you constantly comparing yourself to others?

Is there a right way to write reviews??

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29 responses to “Discussion Post: The Right Way to Write Reviews?

  1. I think the worst thing we can ever do, with anything, is compare ourselves to others. I have done it many times, heck we all have but we also have to remember that we are all unique and so are our reviews and that is what makes them personal and great. 😉
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Review: Dirty Red by Tarryn FisherMy Profile

  2. Awesome timing for your post! I think we all need to write this post, or at least take turns once a month, spread it around!

    I agree with you and I’m so glad you didn’t relapse! It’s funny you thought the long reviews were a good thing b/c I prefer the short, to the point reviews. I came to the same conclusion as you that the long reviews were 90% recap, too.

    I’ve done the SAME introspection on my reviews, too. I was being more judgmental b/c I was comparing myself to other librarians at the time. I let that go b/c it is a hobby to me, not a job!

    Best advice I heard lately… change up your review format or else you’ll get bored writing them. We discussed this in the Blogger Lounge at RAGT. I do it to suite my books.

    My reviews suck but I don’t care, I just talk through them. That’s all I ever want to do… talk books all day long!!!

    You’re awesome, don’t change your reviews – they help me!!!
    Kristin @ My ParaHangover recently posted…Review: Halfway Perfect by Julie Cross and Mark PeriniMy Profile

  3. I have had the same thoughts, so many times, over and over again. But then people started telling me they liked my style. And I thought about it. I did have a sort of style. And I enjoyed writing how I wanted to write. However I wanted to. And when I wanted to write short, I did that.

    And now I am happy
    blodeuedd recently posted…Path of Gods – Snorri KristjanssonMy Profile

    • Melissa

      I think that if we are not blogging for ourselves first (at least those of us that are hobbyists and not making money off our blogs) then there is no point and we’ll never be happy.

  4. “spouting a few opinions” – ain’t nothing wrong with that. 😀 It’s YOUR review, YOUR opinion, YOUR thoughts. Do it any damn way you please. 🙂 I have had the same problem, comparing myself to others and while I’ve mostly moved past that, it still trips me up from time to time. These days, I pretend I’m talking to a friend. What do I want to share? what do they need to know? And take it from there.

    Write your reviews your way and the heck with everyone else. 😀
    Bea @Bea’s Book Nook recently posted…Quote-Tastic & Review of Imposters of Patriotism by Ted RichardsonMy Profile

  5. I think we all go through moments of insecurity, compare ourselves to other reviewers especially the more popular ones. While I can look at that as self-improvement, it’s a slippery slope. I don’t think there’s a formula, it boils down to how the book made you feel, etc. Also, reviews are subjective so it’s bound to differ.

    I love your blog, your thoughts, everything. You’re fine, don’t overthink it too much 🙂
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…Loved It: Something To Prove by Kimberly LangMy Profile

    • Melissa

      It is definitely hard not to compare to the “popular” blogs. Guess we have to remember that just b/c a formula works for one blog or blogger doesn’t mean it will work for all.

    • Melissa

      You make a great point…there is a reason there are so many blogs out there…the people who like our styles will come back and those that don’t will move on to other blogs….as it should be…

  6. How boring would it be if everyone’s reviewing style was the same? I love that each of the blogs I visit does reviews their own way, it keeps things interesting! I completely understand second guessing yourself though – I write my reviews sort of essay style (that whole 2.4 and 3.5 essay thing was drilled into me in school), but as my work got busier I realized I just didn’t have time to write the slightly longer reviews I typically did, and so just like you I let myself off the hook. Now I just write enough to get my feelings out there, and the length of the review varies based on the book because sometimes I find I don’t have a lot to say!

    Keep doing things in a way that make you happy and make blogging fun Melissa!
    Jenny @ Supernatural Snark recently posted…Wednesday Flourish: The Hunted CompilationMy Profile

  7. karen

    I harte my reviews. I am not a blogger and who cares about my opinion. I do however follow a lot of bloggers who mainly talk about books. I also like to read what others rhink of a book. there are quite a few times I am thinking will I like this book and/or should I waste the money. Other people’s opinion is what a base my decision on most of the time. I read for enjoyment and all I really want to know is did you like/love/hate/indifferent the book. So please keep giving your opinion. plenty of people want to know what you thought or felt about the book and think you do a great job reviewing books. I know because I am one of those people.

  8. Joanne Kocourek

    Melissa, Be true to yourself! I, for one, appreciate your reviews. I do follow a number of book review bloggers but selected the ones I follow based on the type of books they review and how their reviews align with my thoughts on books/authors works. The reviews I personally write tend to vary dependent on the book/author but are often a few paragraphs as I reviewed and edited medical journal articles for publication prior to disability. That process was pretty specific and one I.m comfortably with. For books that I have major issues with, I actually try to contact the author about my concerns and typically never post those reviews. I’m not a blogger but if a review helps great, if not I tried.

  9. I use to love my reviews but my style has changed but not for the better. I feel like I analyze less and got a bit boring. I don’t know why this happened but I can’t seem to change it. I have had to be okay with my review style because it’s so hard to change. I wish I was more funny though. I love fun reviews.

  10. If there’s a right way, then I guarantee I’d be doing it wrong. lol. I used to write well, believe it or not, then in college it became so technical. Between my psychology, business, and criminology papers, there was very little room for personal expression. So when I started reviewing, I had a hard time finding my voice again. It’s still a struggle for me.
    Christy recently posted…Chasing River by K.A. TuckerMy Profile

  11. Pfffft on professional reviews. Those usually bore me to tears and I can guarantee they’ve never once sold a book to me. I like the ones where they just tell it how it is and in whatever format feels right for that day. It’s okay if it’s a short and tweet review or one that focuses just on the characters or the storyline or whatever. I just want to know what the reader/reviewer loved (or didn’t) about it.

    I change my reviews up now and again. Usually because the typical write it all out doesn’t feel right for that book so I’ll do a list or a 5 things that rocked about it or whatnot. I think that keeps it fun for me as a reviewer 😀
    anna@herding cats & burning soup recently posted…Interview w/ Maria Geraci– Arnold Palmer, Captain Crunch &…ghosts?My Profile

  12. Ha! I *think* you meant my post for the thoughtful review comment.

    I definitely get pulled into that line of thinking at times because the idea of writing really long reviews just isn’t appealing to me anymore and I see the term thoughtful bandied about online a lot – mostly when criticizing a reviewer who isn’t writing professional or thoughtful reviews (meaning negative lol) in their opinion.

    What I worry about is that at this point I just want to write Yay! I loved it or Boo! It sucked lol and you do need a little more than that. But what is enough information for the reader of your reviews while still making it fun for you to write?

    Ultimately, I think we all have our own style – short/long/funny/detailed – whatever and that’s what people are looking for. Not a set length or “professional”. I know I pretty much glaze over the longer reviews these days and my favorites are where I see the bloggers personality shine through. I get what they mean even if it’s only two sentences. If you try to mimic another style it comes off forced – IMO.
    Karen recently posted…Taking a little break…My Profile

  13. Great discussion! I am (sort of) on a break due to several family health issues, but earlier this year I stopped my blog suddenly because I finished a book and just didn’t want to write a review for it. I was being my own worst enemy, doubting myself and my blogging enjoyability for me the writer and you folks, the readers. Then I told myself that I shouldn’t deny myself the pleasure of sharing my thoughts on what I read. I would go with the flow, follow my mood… you get the picture.

    Sometimes my post is a very long and detailed analysis, but most of the time it is what I call “10 second reviews”– those posts you can read and understand (the gist of my opinion) in 10 seconds. Nothing wrong with that. If folks don’t like my blogging format, that’s their decision to make, but I will keep participating in the hobby that I take so much pleasure from, and that is reading a lot and then chatting about it, whether as a post on my blog, or as a long comment on someone else’s blog.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share my feelings.
    Rita @ View From My Home recently posted…Back… Sort Of…Random ChatMy Profile

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