Tuesday, December 5, 2023

ISWG: December


It's the first Wednesday in December, so it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

The awesome co-hosts for the December 6 posting of the IWSG are C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!

This month's question is an interesting one:

Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book reviews do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?

I write book reviews every week, so this question is right up my alley!

Reviews are for readers.  If the author gets something useful out of it, then that's a bonus, but at the heart of it, book reviews are there to let other readers know what you thought and if it is worth their while to pick up that book to read themselves.  And they are personal.  A book I loved and couldn't praise more highly could be universally loathed by other readers.

I think a good book review should give a little bit of information about what the book is about - not a full synopsis and not a regurgitation of the blurb - and then outline the things you liked and disliked about it.  I very rarely write reviews that are 100% negative.  There is always something to like about a book, even if you didn't enjoy it.

There is no need to bring the author into a review unless you're pointing out something particularly interesting or unusual that they might have done with the story or the prose in the book you're reviewing.  You're reviewing the book, not the author, so there is no need to get personal.

A lot of authors say they don't look at their reviews, but as an author myself, I think there is a lot you can learn from reading what readers thought.  Most of us hope to write and publish more than one book, so reading reviews and understanding what parts of a story resonated, or didn't with readers can help you make better decisions in future books.

Some reviews to hurt.  Especially when it's clear the reader has entirely missed some key point or misunderstood something crucial to understanding the character or the plot.  But not everyone reads the same way and it is never a good idea to reach out to a reviewer and tell them they're wrong.  Reviews are subjective and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

Do you review as a reader or as a writer?


  1. I agree with you that authors may be able to learn from reading reviews. And I agree that reviews are subjective so you have to consider that when reading them.

  2. As an author, I personally don't look at reviews of my books for a few different reasons, but I know other authors who do because they learn from them. I feel reviews are for readers, but there's no harm in authors reading them as long as they remember that reviews are subjective & everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

  3. Very nice answer to this month's question. Thanks!

  4. It does suck when a reviewer misses a big part of a book.
    I think it's possible non-fiction authors are subject to more personal critiques in reviews of their work, as the authority and expertise aren't subject to "suspension of disbelief," which fiction authors can sometimes claim.

    What book did you most enjoy this year?
    May joy, peace, and goodwill be with you this season and always.

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Speculative Fiction & Reference Author and Co-host of the April Blogging #AtoZchallenge

  5. I wish it was a law somewhere that writers leave reviewers alone. I've heard stories that make me shy to even share word of mouth.

    Anna from elements of emaginette