Hi friends! We’re back for yet another post I get asked for a lot. I’ve talked about how to blog before on my How To Write A Great Review post and my Newbie Blogger Page (#shamelessselfpromo) but today I want to talk about the nitty-gritty parts of being a blogger, everything from what to post to blog design… and even posts by other bloggers! Let’s get started.
Hi friends! People ask me for this post literally all the time. And you know what? I love giving tips. So here’s a post I wished I had when I was just starting out on reviewing: how to write a great review.
I got into audiobooks only through the last few months [I finished my first in June], and I wanted to talk about it a little bit! Because I used to be an audiobook hater. And now I have sold my soul to audiobooks and listen to four or five a month. I know, I know, it’s not for you it’s not for you it’s not for you. But unless there’s something making you actually incapable of listening to audios, you should give them a try. It took me a while to get into them, and I was a total naysayer for a long time, but audiobooks have truly made my life so much better and I want to share that! So here’s a post for newbies and veterans alike with my best tips on everything from how to get started to what books to try.
So, some of you might know that I do a ridiculous amount of reading. And many of you have asked why I do it. That one is super easy; it’s because I love reading. More of you have asked how I do it. This one is harder.
Obviously, all of these tips are super personal. These are things that work for me to work faster.
So guys. Let’s talk about how to read more.
Today I’m going to be writing a post about how to write good reviews!! Again, these are all just my opinions and my thoughts on how to write reviews. Other users might disagree, but I hope these will help.
Say your basic opinion before you start the review. Don’t summarize the entire plot first – I’ll be scrolling or closing out of your review. The first sentences should be to sum up the book in some meaningful way. You have to make your reader want to continue with the review, or at least to click on it.
For five star reviews, don’t pretend the entire book is flawless – tell me the one or two elements that formed your deep emotional connection to this book. Find a main theme. For me, five star reads are usually that way due to characters. So I’ll spend a lot of time emphasizing “these characters are built fantastically.”
For one star reviews, emphasize what about the book was so terrible. Rant about everything, but stick to some kind of main theme of What Sucked About This – was it the absurdity of the plot? The annoying characters? The tropes? Pick one of those things to make the focus, or possibly two if you really feel you have to. Again, stick to a theme. If all the flaws fall into one category, as if often true, make that one category of flaws your theme.
As an extension, cut your plot summary short. I usually read synopsis before I even read reviews, anyway, but either way, you’re not trying to summarize the book – you’re trying to tell me why you feel the way you feel and why I should agree.
A lot of readers won’t really care about much beyond the basic concept. Two sentences is enough for lots of books. For example, if I’m summarizing The Abyss Surrounds Us, I’m not going to use that whole blurb – I’m simply going to start off with “this book is about pirates, sea monsters, f/f enemies to lovers, and environmentalism.” If you’re talking about a creepy or weird book, just don’t summarize much at all. Just mentions the parts of the blurb you think will interest readers. Skip irrelevant detail.
Mention who the main characters are somewhere so your review will be comprehensible to people who haven’t read the book. Please don’t just assume your reader knows!! They might not. Your review needs to appeal to people who haven’t read the book and people who have read the book. Write for the non-readers.
If you’re looking for more information to put in your review, mentally break it down into characters, plot, setting, worldbuilding, etc. If one of those elements seems fairly irrelevant, either skip it or mention it as something the book failed on.
Here’s something that’s super important – Be unapologetic. If you dislike a book, you don’t have to say “I’m sorry I didn’t like this don’t kill me you might like it!!” every time. If you didn’t like it, there’s probably a reason for your dislike. Don’t be wishy-washy. If you truly do have mixed feelings, say that, but don’t pretend sympathy when it’s not what you feel.
A big thing is simply allowing yourself to hate books. People won’t hate you if you post unpopular opinions sometimes – in fact, they’ll give your opinion more credit. Ranting about your fave books is trusted a lot more if you hated a book last week.
Use the return button. No one wants to read a wall of text. I guarantee this is not an unpopular opinion.
Vary how you do sections!! If you’re writing a super long review with three paragraphs about character development, three paragraphs about worldbuilding, three about writing – use sections. Also feel free to skip a section if you don’t need it – if the writing is basically mediocre, dedicate one sentence to it in your “miscellaneous section” – don’t try to stretch it out.
But here’s the thing – if it’s a short book, don’t feel the need to write sections. Just write a full review if you feel like you need one!!
Comparing a book to super popular books can be both a blessing and a curse. Want to make a comparison to ACoTaR? Fine, but know that a lot of people are going to be turned off by that comparison. I’d recommend comparing to multiple books and making it clear you don’t have to like that to like this.
On a related topic – market to the right people. Don’t market a swoony NA romance as a great fantasy read – make it clear that this is for fans of romance, not fans of fantasy.
Sometimes, it can help to think about why something stands out from its genre. Dystopia? Emphasize how it subverts tropes or has a very different main character than usual. Suspense? Emphasize the depth of psychology. Romance? Maybe the healthiness of the relationship. Contemporary? Maybe the lack of slutshaming.
And if something was a lot of fun, but doesn’t quite stand out from its genre: admit that. It will give you far more credibility as a reader and as a reviewer.
On the topic of ratings – use a system that works for you. I think rating most things in the two-four range is the best bet, personally.
Probably the most important tip is to use five stars sparingly. Someone who rates 98% of books five is not going to be trusted when they’re writing their reviews. That doesn’t mean pretend you didn’t love it – just rate things four stars occasionally.
And on a related topic, don’t be afraid to rate down if it just wasn’t for you. Anything that I appreciated but never personally enjoyed gets a two, or a three on a good day. Be honest. And also don’t be afraid to change your ratings – we change as people, our rating systems change, our review style changes, and it’s completely fine.
Anyway, guys, these are my feelings on the how to review. Feel free to comment below any thoughts or feelings on reviewing!!
So I’ve been trying to get my tbr completed for around two years. Along the way, I’ve come up with a few strategies for quicker completion.
Obviously, these are just things that worked for me, but hopefully they’ll work for a few others too. Good luck!
1. Read short books quickly. If you find a ridiculously short book on your list, read it immediately. Don’t keep twenty add-on short stories on your tbr.
2. Split up your tbr lists. Having one short pile to focus on is always good, and moving books you don’t plan to read until a long time from now onto a different list creates the illusion of having a shorter list.
You can split up any ways you want, but here are some suggestions.
Category one could be books that have just released, series you’re in the middle of, and the books from your shelf that you’re most interested in. Don’t put more than one or two new series on your priority tbr— that can kill motivation. Category two can be books that have yet to be released. It feels so good to have these separated, you can get 100 books off your tbr with no effort. Goodreads lets you order lists by priority, and I’d suggest ordering this list by release date so you always know what book is coming out next. Having this list is so much more helpful. Category three can be everything else. You can even split it up more! I have a whole other list for classics and literary fiction I won’t get to for a while.
3. Delete some books. If you do this on a goodreads account, sort your list by date added. If you added a book back in 2014 and don’t even remember why you wanted to read it, delete it. Delete books you feel obligated to try but aren’t actually interested in. Delete the continuations of series you hated. And delete any books that have universally bad reviews. You’d be surprised how many books you can get off.
Even if you have an owned tbr, donate any books you dread having to read. Try a bookswap service with those you’re not interested in if you want. #booksfortrade on twitter is always worth a try. Sure, you’ll get books back, but hopefully only books you really want to read. If there are any books you’ve heard good things about but aren’t really interested in yourself, gift them to others.
If you have A LOT on your tbr, delete everything except 150 books. I’m serious. You are never going to read all 1000 of those books when new releases keep coming out. Ask yourself how much you really want to read any of these books. Keep only those you’re desperate to read.
4. Focus on short standalones unless you have a lot of free time. Series and long books are better enjoyed when you can fully engage with them, rather than shoving in reading time. But you can finish short standalones in very little time. Also, having three series beginners on your tbr looks easier to tackle than having eight standalones.
5. Read multiple books at a time, especially if you’re tackling long classics. Forcing yourself through a 500-page book will get you nowhere. There’s no shame in reading three books at once.