How Do YOU Write Your Reviews? (And Some Reviewing Tips!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When I was an itty-bitty baby book blogger, I had NO idea how I should write my reviews. I was perpetually scared of saying the wrong things. Little insecurities always niggled at the back of my mind. Is this an okay thing to say? What if what I'm saying is wrong? What if I accidentally offend someone? Is my review too short? Do I have to include more gifs? Do I even know what I'm saying?

It was kind of scary, putting my opinion out there in the big, bad world. In my first few reviews, I was sure to end almost every paragraph with words like "in my opinion, at least" or "that's what I think, anyway". And these were only positive reviews, not even negative ones where you can be excused for feeling a little scared of backlash. I was scared of putting my opinion out there, I was scared of my opinions being wrong, and I was scared of myself. 

So, being the newbie, unsure baby book blogger that I was, I poured through all the reviews I could find on Goodreads and Amazon, searching for the "right" way to review. I mean, so many people review books, right? I told myself. And if THOSE reviews are so popular,  then I think I could find a way to review more like them, in the proper way. 

And so I read review after review, trying to find out why those reviewers can do it, but I can't. I was jealous of one reviewer's ability to be so on-point and have an opinion that a lot of people agreed with. I was envious of another's long, detailed review that broke apart the book into tiny fragments. I desperately wished I could use woefully accurate gifs to bring my point across. I hoped I could someday be as funny and witty in my reviews as some reviewers could. 

I was so caught up with wishing that I could write reviews like those more experienced reviewers, I kind of missed what should have been obvious. No review was actually the same. There was no secret formula that the other bloggers/reviewers used to write their reviews. The reviewing style differed from person to person. No two people wrote reviews in exactly the same way. Yes, maybe a certain group always reviewed in gifs, and maybe another group preferred lists, but even within those categories, everyone's reviews were different. 

I don't know when exactly the fact clicked in my mind, but somewhere along the line, I subconsciously accepted it, and I grew WAY more comfortable with reviewing. Whatever way I reviewed a book, I OWNED it. I didn't apologise for my opinions. I wasn't scared to comment on a plot hole. I experimented with a few different methods, and I found my own style.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is, you should NEVER be ashamed of your reviewing style or your opinion on a book. I'm speaking especially for those who are new to the reviewing world and are kind of flailing around, not knowing what to do, just like I did at first. 

It's OKAY if you don't think your opinion is the "right" one. There are no "wrong" opinions, just like there is no "right" way to review. There will always be someone who has a different opinion from you, but that sure as heck doesn't mean that your opinion on the book is wrong. And don't let anyone tell you that it's wrong, either. Your opinions are your own. No person will ever experience that book the way you did because every person is DIFFERENT. No person will ever review the way you do, either, because YOU are different. You don't have to review in the way other people do.

After nine months of blogging, I've found that I like listing everything so that I can make comments on each aspect that I liked or didn't like. To make it more organized, I separate my review into "What I Loved" and "What Could've Been Better". I concentrate a lot on characters and romance when I review. I sometimes ramble. Sometimes I don't really have much to say. Other times I am bursting with opinions.

But that's me. YOUR way could be totally different, and it would be perfectly fine.

So, to wrap up, here are some tips and some stuff to remember:
  • DON'T be afraid of your opinions. They are your own.
  • DON'T apologise for the way you review or feel inferior to other reviewers.
  • DON'T copy the way others review books. It's not a bad thing or anything, and if you want to try out a new style, go ahead, but your readers will like it if you have your own voice.
  • TRY NOT TO feel jealous of another person's skills in reviewing. Not because it's a bad thing, but because you don't NEED to. You've got skills of your own.
  • DO embrace your personality and show it through the way your review.
  • DO experiment with different styles to find out what suits you best, whether it be gifs, long, wordy reviews, cute little mini-reviews or helpful lists.
  • REMEMBER, you will be able to find your own style as long as you keep reviewing.
  • REMEMBER, your blog is your space, and you can do whatever you like in it.
  • Oh, and just a reminder NEVER copy and paste other people's reviews and pass them off as your own, with a few words or sentences changed here and there. Not only is it DISHONEST and BAD, but you won't ever get away with it. Trust me on this.
And, for a grand finale, I have compiled a list of bloggers who have their own unique styles, whose reviews I love to read. (Sorry, bloggy friends, if I leave some of you out. It's not at all the way you review. I simply can't afford this post to be a mile long with all your names (:)

  1. Cait sprinkles her reviews with gorgeous photos and mini-lists.
  2. Mishma writes long reviews that are really analytical
  3. Alex divides her reviews into three sections: "Characters", "Plot" and "Romance".
  4. Aimee writes lots of lists.
  5. Aentee creates stunning graphics and also divides her reviews into what she likes and doesn't like.
  6. Emily prefers easy-to read paragraphs that are concise and neatly wrap up.
  7. Gaby and Lisa are great at using gifs.
  8. Melanie fangirls a lot.
  9. Beth rambles a little, but I love rambling reviews.

were you ever nervous of other people's reaction to your review? are you confident when you publish your thoughts for the world to see? do you agree with what i say or am i talking absolute rubbish? it's not a discussion without your views!

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