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Be Kind to One Another

by Tina Radcliffe

It’s quite serendipitous that what has been percolating in me for days is a postscript to Deborah Raney’s lovely post stars ratingof September 4, 2013, “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Reviews.”

As members of ACFW, there is an expectation that at some point we will have books available for consumer purchase. Additionally, we all have our own thoughts on writing book reviews for another author.

This leads me to consider some age-old adages that are tossed around and used in regards to book reviews:

“Honesty is the best policy.”

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

“Do unto others as you would like done unto you.”

“What goes around comes around.”

“Actions speak louder than words.”

“Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them.”

“To thine own self be true.” (a little Shakespeare too!)

My policy is to always remember that the internet is forever. The web is a veil providing a cloak of anonymity that can be very empowering. Don’t fall victim to this false sanction. It’s never okay to be unkind. Even under the guise of honesty. Your words will follow you for a very long time. The rest of my personal policy is to never write an inflated review for any reason.

There are many thoughts on what constitutes a good book review. In my opinion it should briefly summarize, analyze and comment on the book’s content, sharing thoughts about theme and premise. Often included are strengths and weaknesses of the material. Never include a major plot spoiler.

Author Lesley Ann McDaniel (Saving Grace, August 2013) shares some insightful tips in her Goodreads post.

Always write your reviews with integrity. If you honestly don’t like a book, write your review as if you are in a critique session with the author. Use positive words and avoid sarcasm.”

Review the book that has been written, not the book you think the author should have written. It isn’t fair to criticize an author for failing to achieve something he or she never intended to achieve.”

Lesley also provides a book review template that can help you hone your review skills.

What’s your policy when it comes to writing reviews? (And so the debate begins.) Take a moment to think about it. Whatever your policy, I urge you to be kind to one another.

tina radcliffe SeptA 2012 Genesis Finalist, Tina Radcliffe writes Inspirational romance for Harlequin Love Inspired as Tina Radcliffe and romantic comedy as Tina Russo. Her latest release from Love Inspired is Mending the Doctor’s Heart. Her first Indie release, a sweet romantic comedy called The Rosetti Curse, is available now.

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13 Responses to Be Kind to One Another

  1. Angel Moore says:

    Wise words for any internet – or other – conversations. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks, Angel and Lesley Ann’s comments really made me think. She is spot on!

  3. Great post, Tina. I would also add ‘don’t feel pressured to review if you didn’t actually read the book.’ Places like Amazon and Goodreads will prompt you for feedback if you buy a book or put it on your shelf. If you haven’t gotten around to reading it, or decided for whatever reason not to read the whole thing, it’s ok to ignore that prompt and not post a star rating or review.

    Honesty is always the best policy, my grandmother used to say. She never encountered the internet, but her wisdom remains true, even in a high-tech setting. :)

    Thanks for putting this out there, Tina! I think as readers, we can all take it to heart!

  4. Melissa says:

    Now that I’ve become a published writer, I won’t write low reviews, I think that can look like sour grapes or envy, etc even if not. But I do think low reviews are useful if written nicely as this post says.

    I dislike reviewers who pick up something (accidentally) they don’t generally read and write: “It was Christian stuff! One star!” or when a Christian reader reads a secular romance and says, “Ugh, there’s sex in it. One star!” Judge it for what it is, not what you wanted it to be. If you can’t do that, don’t review.

  5. Totally agree, Kristen. I recently asked a voracious reader friend of mine if she was on Goodreads.

    Her response…”I read a lot and don’t feel the need to broadcast it, make it a contest, or meet strangers because of it. So my question is…why?”

    I am going to use that in a post someday. Because you are right Kristen, we buy the book then we are pressured to review it these days.

    I get why. I am an author. I get why. But let’s relax folks.

  6. LOL. Yes, Melissa. Totally agree. I have preferences but that doesn’t get to be part of my review bias.

    Ever.

  7. Okay, why don’t I have a profile face? Must find out.

  8. I am always saddened when my books are temporarily available free and the reviewers say, “Yes it was free but it was STILL too expensive.”

    sigh

  9. Janet Dean says:

    Wise words, Tina. I’m not a reviewer per se so I don’t post reviews of books I don’t love. My point in writing a review is to let those looking for a good book know that I thought this book was great. Funny thing is, I rarely read badly written books. Maybe because I read lines and authors I can count on for a good story.

  10. Myra Johnson says:

    Excellent, Tina! Wish every book reviewer would follow your advice.

    Generally, I won’t post a review if I can’t give the book at least 4 or 5 stars. As Melissa said, since I’m published now, any negative comments might come across as petty jealousy.

    But I’m negligent about getting reviews posted anyway, so fellow authors should not assume no review means I didn’t like their book! I’ve either been too preoccupied to write a review or, more likely, probably haven’t gotten to it in my TBR pile–which has gotten HUGE!

  11. I know, Myra. Tooo many good books to read!!!

  12. Great post, Tina. I don’t post reviews if I don’t like something. I try to stay positive.

    I have to say, I do look at reviews some when picking a book. But the excerpt is what I usually go by.

  13. Audra Harders says:

    I’m more of a word-of-mouth, recommend-the-book, kind of person than a reviewer. For many of the reasons you mentioned, reviewing books makes you walk a fine line. It’s easy to gush over a book when you like it, but what do you say when you don’t?

    Besides, I’d rather be reading the book than writing about it : )