Who Do You Write Reviews For?
Book reviews are a big part (perhaps the biggest?) of book blogging, and I assume that we all want our reviews to be read by our readers and useful to our readers. However, it seems to me that there are two types of readers: those that have read the book and want to discuss the finer aspects of it, and those who haven’t read the book and want help figuring out if they should. There are some conflicts between these two groups in what to include in your reviews though, so my question is who do you write reviews for?
Reviews for Readers Who Have Read The Book: Discussions
If you write your reviews for people who have already read the book (which seems reasonable for books that are quite popular), then you can make them more like discussions. Put a disclaimer at the top that there will be spoilers for the book, and then you can talk about plot twists that you liked or characters that in the end you didn’t like. This can lead to great discussions in the comments and interactions with your readers, but this technique is completely reliant on at least a handful of your readers having read the book and having a strong enough opinion to discuss with you. It also of course opens the door for disagreements, though hopefully none of your readers are that disagreeable ;-). Many readers of your blog who haven’t read the book, though, might completely skip that review in fear of spoilers, leading to lost numbers (if you are concerned with that) and the lost opportunity to convince them that the book is something they would like. These sorts of discussions can also be tackled in the realm of read-alongs, however that often takes more effort to organize etc, and might not reach as many people if they don’t think they have time to read another book in that moment of time. These aren’t the type of reviews that I aim for, so I’m curious if anyone does use this approach and how they go about it? Tips for us?
Reviews for Readers Who Haven’t Read the Book: Recommendations
Writing your reviews for people who haven’t read the book often ends up more like discussing the general aspects of the book and avoiding specifics that could give away spoilers. I find myself making recommendations along the lines of “if you liked this other thing, then you should definitely try this book!” since it just seems safer than outlining the exact awesomeness of the book in question. This does, however, then make your review slightly less relevant to someone who has already read the book: they know if they liked it or not, they don’t really need your recommendation. Perhaps there can still be some discussion in vague terms along the lines of “wasn’t that plot twist awesome” but without risking spoilers, it isn’t really safe to discuss details. Even in the comments, I get squeamish if too many spoilers get mentioned, since I worry that someone scrolling to ask a question will happen to see them and be disappointed.
Is there a happy medium do you think? Or do you think that one approach is better than the other? Should discussions be kept to a separate type of post, such as read-alongs? Who do you write reviews for, those who have read the book or those who haven’t? Or do you even think about it too much, do you write them for yourself? Am I over analyzing things again ;-)?
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