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The Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Review

Updated on August 13, 2015
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I'm an author and I love reading the reviews I get for my work. Every creative person loves getting feedback from others. They love to know what others think of their work and they especially love it when the feedback they get is positive. But that doesn't necessarily mean that they want nothing but praise. I myself prefer a review with a little mix of both the positive and negative, because they're more reliable than the positive ones simply because they seem more realistic and honest to me.

But writing a review is not about giving the author what they want. It's about giving them what they need.

Below is a list of things to keep in mind when writing a review.

Do Be Honest, Don't Sugarcoat it

Now in most cases you don't know the person whose product you are reviewing so you really won't have any reason to sugarcoat it. But if it's someone you know well and you're afraid to give them your honest opinion, don't be. Sooner or later someone is going to give them an honest opinion, which may not be positive and that someone may as well be you. If you care about the person whose work you're reviewing you should help prepare them for the much harsher critics out there. Because not everyone is going to like what they do and if they can't handle you criticizing them how are they going to handle the criticism from others? If you give them your honest opinion and they get mad at you for not being positive enough they really weren't looking for the truth anyway. As an author I'm telling you to just be honest and let people know that something they wrote isn't quite good enough. They will come to appreciate it if they don't already.

Do Remember to Be Polite, Don't Be Rude

This should go without saying and this applies to everything, not just reviewing. There are ways to tell people they did a poor job without sounding mean. This applies to online reviews as well. People on the internet tend to think common courtesy isn't necessary online but it is. Free speech and all that of course, but like I said there are ways to state your opinion without hurting someone's feelings. And for some a hurtful remark they get online can be enough to ruin their entire day. Maybe you have thick skin but others may not be so lucky. either way it is always good to be mindful of another person's feelings.

Being polite is not:

  • Insulting or questioning their intelligence
  • Using racist, sexist or other forms of discriminating comments
  • Bullying of any kind
  • Just being plain hateful

As long as you can keep a civil tone you should be fine.

Do Explain, Don't Be Vague

This is the most important part to get right when writing a review. Because whether or not you get this right determines the usefulness of your review.

Let's say you were an author who got a review, which wasn't too flattering. You read it and think, "Okay apparently this story wasn't as good as I thought it was but what did I do wrong?"

The very purpose of a review is giving your honest opinion so other potential buyers/readers can get an idea of how it is and if it's something they are willing to look into. And the purpose is also to give the author feedback so they will know what to do and what not to do next time around. If you don't tell the author why you didn't like it or what you especially liked and how it could get even better how do you expect them to improve? That's how they learn. Not only does that give your review more credibility if you are able to state just why the story wasn't so good or why it was good. If it wasn't good the author wants to know why so they know how to be good next time. And if it was good the author wants more detail on why, both because it brightens their day but also because they'll know what to keep doing in the future to maintain the positive response from their readers.

Be Honest, Be Polite And Don't Be Vague

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