The Don’ts of Writing a Book Review

I am an Indie Sage Insider – that means, I review and help promote other authors through social media and this site. One of the awesome things about being an insider is that I get free copies of books in exchange for honest reviews. Over the years, I’ve written a lot of reviews and I’ve really tried to develop my reviews in hopes that my words are beneficial to the reader and the author.

Are you a reviewer? Even if you don’t write book reviews for your own website, or to promote authors on your social media accounts, there is definitely a wrong and a right way to write a book review. In this post, I will be talking about all of the things to avoid. In my next post, I will talk about crafting the perfect review for your audience.

The Don’ts of Writing a Book Review

  1. Never give away spoilers
    Authors spend a lot of time trying to craft the perfect reveal, and how they are going to do it. Please, please, please don’t reveal spoilers in a review – even if you say, “SPOILER ALERT”. This may not seem like a big deal, but it hurts the author. They’ve literally spent months agonizing over the right words and manner of saying something for you to reveal the major plot twist in 20 words.
  1. Never just give a number or a star without an explanation
    If you are reviewing for sites like Amazon or, please don’t think that just saying, “I give this book 3 stars” is enough. Authors and readers want to know why. Explain yourself. All reviews are subjective, and its important to tell people the scale you’re grading on. Did you give it a 3 because there were grammatical errors? Was it a 3 because you weren’t happy with the ending? Explain!
  1. Don’t just grade on formatting errors/grammatical mistakes
    If you’re reading a book with characters and a plot you enjoy, don’t knock down the book to a 2 star rating because you saw the author used affect instead of effect. Instead, before you start your review, let the reader know, “hey, I really liked the characters and plot, but there are a few spelling mistakes. If this will drive you nuts, stay away, otherwise it’s an enjoyable read”. This will let potential readers know what they are in for, and let them decide if they are willing to take a chance on the author.
  1. Don’t be cruel
    Even if you hated the book, there is no reason to bash the author. Although the author is probably a person you will never meet, there is no reason to be cruel. Authors are people too!
  1. Review the author
    This is one a lot of people seem to forget. They get annoyed with the author as an individual they think they know. This does nothing for a potential reader and tells them nothing about the story they are interested in.
  1. Don’t forget to tell people if you would recommend the book
    Saying that you recommend the book helps make your feelings clear about a book.
  1. Using strong language
    I don’t mean swear words. I mean words like love, hate, fantastic, amazing, etc. While passionate language may get your point across and increase Google page rankings, too much strong language, even across several reviews, can cause Google to discount your reviews.

Have you written any book reviews lately? If so, what have you learned to avoid? What do you hope a reviewer avoids when you’re reading a review? Write it out below.

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