My thoughts on writing reviews

Yesterday I found this lovely post on savidgereads.wordpress.com which is a blog I’ve been following for a while now and I liked the idea of writing a post on reviews as a whole. My blog revolves mostly around reviews but as like Simon, sometimes I struggle with them. My inbox is over-flowing with promises to review, review requests and guest posts that need tweaking and then posted up online. I have been tempted these past few months to close my review requests page to catch up with the backlog but I have stopped myself because of the wonderful requests I’ve been receiving. however I took inspiration from Simon and thought I would write my own thoughts on reviews! So something a little different for you here at mylittlebookblog.

I find writing reviews a lengthy process

Even though I have been reviewing for around a year and a half now, book reviews still take me an awful amount of time and sometimes they can be really hard work. It seems odd that an 800-1000 word review could be so tough but there’s so much to squish in and so much content to discuss. If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while you’ll know that I go overboard on my analysis of the book I’m reviewing and although this is praised by a lot of you (which often makes me blush) it is time consuming. I love writing reviews, otherwise why would I run a book review blog, but sometimes capturing the true essence of a book can take a week to fully process and get into words on a page. I also have a book with all my notes and ideas so I can write down my favourite passages, events or sentences however this often means a re-write after the initial review. It’s worth it to bring authors the best review possible but sometimes I feel I’m struggling to fit everything in.

I find writing constructive reviews difficult

Writing ‘negative’ reviews is one of the less pleasant things about book blogging. When writing a review that brings up the lesser points of the book I am in constant limbo on how to write it critically whilst being fair but honest to the reader. I’m always honest and often candid and this has lead me to lose a few authors who haven’t spoken to me again but I will not compromise my reader base. I always try and write a sandwich review which encases the ‘negative’ points between the good points to give a real feel for the book as a whole. Sometimes it is cruel to be kind, and when I write a good review those authors know I’ve enjoyed it because I would say otherwise (and I do, often.) I always get a sinking feeling when I realise a book isn’t going to suddenly turn around and be sublime but I also can’t lie and risk my integrity as an honest book blogger. However it is incredibly horrible thing to do and often leaves me feeling a little miserable.

I panic when I haven’t reviewed a book for a while
Being a book blogger who started her blog only writing reviews I panic if there has not been a review for a while. As my blog has grown and grown I have started adding new features, such as the 101 things to do in 1001 days. Although it’s the only non-book related feature on my blog it worries me sometimes that it takes over the running theme throughout and I always make sure to distance them so that there has always been enough reviews before and after as this is the main purpose for my blog. I still do post a lot more reviews than anything else but I do have to make sure the ratio is right.

I need to go back and edit my old reviews
When I first started writing reviews I was quite terrible at it. I put my hands up, and if you don’t believe me read some of the earlier ones. I have definitely improved and I definitely get more of my personality into the reviews whilst talking more in-depth about the essence, effect the book has on me, the character build up and the writing style and pace as a whole. A lot of my reviews focus on the character build up as it’s something that is important to my enjoyment of the book as a whole, and I am always striving to get more into my reviews and really give the reader a good a picture as possible.

I need to be more definite in my deadlines for reviews
I have to admit I’m one of those terrible people who never say no and it has meant this past year that I have let my requests inbox go out of control. It is overflowing with manuscripts waiting to be read and although I know that almost all authors are very happy to wait for reviews, I feel terrible not being able to say exactly when they will be. Starting my full time job has really affected my time for blogging. I really want to be more structured in my deadlines for reviews and start scheduling them properly.

I will review almost anything I get sent (so far)

One of the big things about me as a reviewer is I don’t turn anyone away and this is something I hope to keep up for the coming year. This blog is as much for the authors that I review for as it is for me, and although at some point I might think about readjusting the balance for now I’m happy with how it sits as a whole. Ultimately it is for the readers though, in terms of finding new books, telling them of exciting stories and of interesting characters and I hope to keep doing that through reviews for a long time into the future. Sometimes it gets a little overwhelming because there are so many people I want to help out with reviews, guest posts, Q+A’s and press releases but for now I’m just going to take it all in and keep doing my very best for unknown authors.

My reviews will always be me

I have been getting a lot of positive comments on my reviews recently and lots of emails saying they want me to review books because of the quality and the in-depth nature of my reviews. I will always be striving to improve this and to refine my grammar, spelling and my ability to get the nature of the book down on paper. However, it will always be how I want to approach the review. I prefer not to give star ratings and I sometimes I focus almost all the review on one section of analysis but it’s just the way I am as a reviewer. I’m a little haphazard and a little unsystematic in the order of my reviews, but they will always be honest and they will always be sincere because I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So just a little insight into my review thoughts, do you have any thoughts to add, or any questions? Feel free to comment below 😀 ❤

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22 thoughts on “My thoughts on writing reviews

  1. trentpmcd says:

    When I first started my blog I thought I’d be writing a lot of reviews. One of the reasons I haven’t is that I found I don’t read many reviews. Seeing the amount of thought and work you put into them maybe I should; I owe it not just to the authors, but to the reviewers. Thanks for the insight.

  2. lipsyy says:

    I love the Savidge Reads blog!

    I feel your pain. Writing reviews and having that pressure there to complete them can be quite a nightmare. It’s so easy to get bogged down and feel like you’re always trying to catch up!

    I introduced a ‘Lazy Saturday Review’ on my blog in which I give myself only 30 minutes to write it. I don’t go into too much detail and just talk about what I liked or disliked about the book.

    I wouldn’t want to do it for every book I review, but it’s been a nice way to get reviews out there in a short space of time. And I find that they’re so much more fun to write! 🙂

    • littlebookblog says:

      It’s really brilliant I would definitely recommend it!

      I’m constantly trying to catch up and then suddenly three new emails asking for reviews flood into my email inbox it becomes an impossible challenge!

      Oh wow a lazy saturday review sounds amazing! I mean sometimes I wonder whether I need to do something like that and just get a few bits down about my enjoyment rather than all the things I’ve though!

      I’ll have to contemplate it 😀 thank you for the wonderful comment!

  3. Jennifer Austin - Author says:

    I had a similar dilemma when I started writing reviews. As an author attempting to break into the publishing industry, it may not behoove me to leave negative reviews, yet I can’t lie. That’s not me and I owe it to my readers to be honest. But I try to write the review as if the author is going to read it. Constructive criticism is fine, but I always try to be professional, a do you. I don’t think we owe the authors a “good” review, but we owe them a polite, well-thought out post that acknowledges the time and effort they put into their craft.

    • littlebookblog says:

      I’m the same, I did a post a little while back where I asked my readers if they had any questions for me as to my reviewing and one was, whether I would give a false review if someone asked me to. The answer was quite obviously no because of being honest but also because being constructive can help an author either with their new releases or to go back and have another look at their first attempt.

      Additionally it’s all personal dependant on your opinions so you’re always going to have discrepancies!

  4. Green Embers says:

    One thing I would recommend for all reviewers is to watch the movie ‘Almost Famous’ and heed Lester Bangs advice to the main character.

    I really, really love your summary of everything. I pretty much have the exact same feelings (expect you expressed yourself better, lol).

    One thing I would point out though is this part: “This blog is as much for the authors that I review for as it is for me..” Reviews aren’t meant for the author. Authors can get benefits from reviews (negative and positive actually), but that is a byproduct. Reviews are meant for other readers/consumers. That is your audience.

    • littlebookblog says:

      I have never seen it but I will have to check it out!

      I’m glad you like it, I just thought it’d be nice to get it all down and get a discussion going!

      In terms of it being as much for the authors as it is for me, I guess I meant it that the blog is for helping authors more than it ever was for me to gain something from it. Yes I want to improve my writing and I want to read more books but I’ve always had this blog to help others, but yes you’re right the reviews are for readers ultimately!

  5. chelseasbookobsession says:

    I’m fairly new at book blogging and sometimes I feel like my reviews are… bad. I never know if I have said too much and spoiled something or if it’s too vague and nothing makes sense. It’s something I have thought about even when I was just posting reviews on Goodreads. How do you find common ground when writing a review? Or is it something that comes once you have been doing it for a while.. I’d love to hear what you think. Thank you. 😀

    • littlebookblog says:

      hi!

      thank you so much for commenting! At the start I honestly had no idea how to write a review. But you have to remember that your review is yours to own. If you like the character profiles let your readers no why if you want to focus on a particular theme focus on that. My best advice is to write a review that would appeal to you as a reader, because you’ll be writing the review in the mindset of the readers that you connect with both! if you want to talk more feel free to email me at mylittlebookblog2014@gmail.com

  6. Katie Cross says:

    You have always left awesome reviews that do more than just recount the plot and give a sentence or two. It’s definitely a lengthy process, and running such a unique book blog probably takes loads of your time, but I know that your fans are really glad you’re out here! I know I’ve checked out lots of books on your recommendation alone, and so appreciate all the help you’ve given me!

    • littlebookblog says:

      Your comments always make me feel so god damn wonderful it means so much that you respect me as a book blogger! It does take time but it’s such a joy that I barely notice 😀 thank you for your support as always x

  7. D K Powell says:

    I like your attitude to book reviewing and as someone who makes part of his living from writing book and music reviews I understand your pain at how long it takes to write them!
    If I’m feeling especially brave I may well send you my book of short stories to review in the new year. If I’m brave enough… 😉

  8. SammyMannatee says:

    I am finding it really hard to know whether I write good reviews or not, and my whole blog is based on them! I also don’t know how much other content to share. It’s a real tough area I think

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