Bumblings Blog Tips are weekly-ish ways to improve your blogging – from planning to design and social media.
There are a lot of discussions happening in the book community about honesty in book blogging. And I think that’s a really great thing.
Some book bloggers clearly cow-tow to authors, filling their reviews with flowery but generic praise that can be copy and pasted to apply to any book. Some book reviews are filled with more fangirling over the author than discussing the book itself. And some people are more subtle about it, maybe not even doing it on purpose, but end up making a review more about the author than the book.
It worries me, and it’s also why I tell you not to hold much stock in my reviews. They’re honestly what I think, but that’s just what I think, and my style of review is anything but a formal critique.
Anyway, despite all that, I think it’s still more than fine to have a high average book rating for your reviews. In some scenarios, at least. Here are a few:
1. You don’t review everything you read
I fall under this one. Big time.
For those of us who don’t just read ARCs, there’s a pretty good chance we won’t review every singe book we read. Not right away, at least.
I read 3-4 books per week (less lately, but still…). Yet I review 1-2. Why? Why don’t I write the reviews as I go? There are lots of reasons.
- A lot of my time spent reading couldn’t easily be replaced by blogging. For example, as soon as I wake up in the morning or go to bed at night. I read to relax and blogging wouldn’t do that as much.
- Some reviews are just harder to write. Like if my reaction was extremely neutral. So if I don’t need to write the review yet, yes, I’ll put it off.
- I still like reading more than reviewing. So when the choice is between reviewing the book I just finished or starting a new one, I usually pick the new book.
I eventually end up reviewing a lot the books when I’m on a break from ARC signups or doing #TBT reviews, but some I’ll never get to.
And when I’m looking through my Kindle for an older book to review, I’m probably going to pick one I liked. Just because the prospect of writing and talking about it is more exciting than talking about a book that was meh.
2. You’re selective about what you read
This is me, too. Big time.
If you put thought and research into what books you review, you’re more likely to pick ones you’ll love. It takes practice, observation, analysis, and research. But you also might not even realize you’re doing these things. The more books you read and review, the better you’ll get at selecting them.
If you just keep a reminder to pay attention in the back of your mind, you can easily learn a lot about your reading tastes. For example, I’ve learned that while I once loved them, I’m in a phase where some genres aren’t working for me. So I’ve taken a break from requesting ARCs in those genres.
I can’t remember the last time I read a book that I didn’t like at all. Like to the point that I wanted to DNF. I think it’s only happened once in the year I’ve had this blog. Before signing up for anything, I read the description of the book and any others in the series, along with any current reviews or excerpts out. I put a lot of time into researching books to make sure I don’t have to spend time reading anything I won’t enjoy.
Of the books that I’ve entered UBB info for, I’ve given 4 or 5 stars to almost 70% of them:
I realize that’s crazy high. But around 10% of those reviews were books I read years ago, and explicitly wanted to review because I loved them. Another 50% or so were from authors or series where I’d read like 5 or more books from them before – they were tried and true. I signed up because I knew I would love it. (For the record, the reviews without UBB info are older ones, where I was more likely to select a book I didn’t like, so my overall average is likely lower.)
There are dozens of books each week that I consider reading and ultimately pass on. Dozens more that I look at and pass on right away. It has nothing to do with wanting to write positive reviews, and everything to do with wanting to spend my time reading good books. So when you see consistently see high reviews on my blog, that’s because of hard work and research, not because I want to kiss anyone’s ass.
3. You review based on experience, not critique
Again, this is me. Can you tell why I wanted to write this post? 😛
My reviews are not formal critiques of the book. A 5 star review doesn’t mean the book was technically perfect. In fact, my regular readers know that I make it a point to note the negatives in every book. Because really, even the greatest novels in the world have their faults, and there are still some people that don’t like them.
Instead of formally critiquing a book in my review, I talk about my experience of reading it. How much fun I had, what emotions I felt. So even if a book wasn’t perfect – if it had grammar mistakes or a few undeveloped characters – it’ll get 5 stars if it was funny and exciting and I had a smile on my face while reading it.
And I will note any downsides to the book that I found, even in a 5 star review, because readers considering the book should know about them. They might care about them, even if I didn’t for that particular book.
Do you get skeptical of blogs with consistently positive reviews? What do you think your average rating is?
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