Why I Review
For those that follow either my Smashwords or Goodreads accounts (or my Facebook and Twitter for that matter) will know that for the last year or so I have been reviewing any and all books that I read. No matter what they are, be they religious texts to fiction novels, I head over to the sites when I am done and rate them, plus give them each a review.
Someone once asked me why. Why do I review, and why is it so damned important to me that I do?
The fact is, it helps the community, it helps the writer, and it helps the purchaser.
In all of my time doing this, I’ve tried to stick to the constructive criticism model I learned in University. Say something nice, then something that needed improvement, and then something nice. Though I didn’t see very many students following this model in my art classes, I saw just how effective it was when someone actually followed that guideline. I’m also happy to say, except for two or three books, I have been able to stick to that formula.
You see, reviewing helps writers. It helps them to know what they could improve upon in their story. If only one person says something, then it’s kind of pointless. But if you have ten, or twenty, or fifty people saying that your pacing is choppy, then you know what you need to work on. It also gives you to know what worked in your story as well. If everyone raves about how hot your sex scenes are, then you know you don’t need to work on them, and can concentrate on the stuff that DOES need work.
But as mentioned, reviewing also helps purchasers. I have taken novels and short stories off my wish list because of poor reviews. Let me make this clear before I continue, they have to be GOOD reviews. Well thought out, well spoken, before I will listen to them. None of this “IT WAS AWESOME!” crap. Anyway, if someone has commented on a novel being terrible due to the ending, or the pacing, or grammar, or whatever, then I am more likely not to get it. Not only does it save me money, but it also saves me frustration at the author when I read it (and hopefully lets the author know what they need to work on).
And last, reviewing helps the community. Be it writer, or be it furry, reviewing works constructively lets authors know you’re reading their material, it gets knowledge of a book or anthology out there, and it lets the culture grow and evolve in a positive manner. Without reviewing, everything would just sort of stagnate. No one would get feedback, besides sales authors wouldn’t know if people were reading or enjoying their material, and no one would be able to improve upon their work.
In the end, I review because as a writer, it helps not only my community, but it helps other writers to improve their craft. I try to give as detailed reviews as possible and try to be fair and honest with each one I give. I’m not perfect, and there have been reviews where words fail me and I have to put something down. But for the most part, I try to explain the best I can what I liked and didn’t like about each and everything I read.
So that is why I review everything I read.
I suggest you do the same. It helps a lot of people out when you do, especially if you take the time to make it detailed and you give it in the constructive criticism format. Not all books are perfect, because no writer or editor is perfect. But that said, no book is ever complete crap either, and there is always something positive to say about a story (though I’ve come across a couple where I honestly couldn’t think of anything good to say, and those two stories still bother me because of that).
In the end, the brief time it takes to actually type out a short review is so minor compared to the benefit to those it touches, that there really isn’t a reason why you shouldn’t be reviewing the stuff you read.
This post first appeared on Tarl “Voice” Hoch’s blog on Goodreads.