Feedback from fans carries weight. The flipside is I’m uncomfortable with how the majority of reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, etc are handled. I avoid them as a result, unless I have read the book! This isn’t what reviewers or authors want but this can change if a few guidelines are made clearer. Eager reviewers mean well but spoil unknowingly and some lack tact. I wince for new authors. Stephen King and Joanne Rowling can afford a rant. An independent author is vulnerable. Here are tips based on my observations.
(1) Go no further than telling what a book is. Never tell how A BOOK GOES! A play-by-play of action is too much information. Withholding the ending doesn’t mean it isn’t spoiler. I like to be oblivious to plots. A review should merely describe age/tone/subject: as a gauge of whether a book is for us. Paired with that, the point of a review is to explain -without giving away plots- why we like, or dislike each book.
(2) “Sounding outdated” isn’t on an author’s head. A novel is current when it is written. If there are horses and buggies instead of laptops, what of it? That is no reason to dock a star. All authors would be docked stars thirty years forward. Protest a cover or synopsis that was misleading but evaluate a book on what it IS. Not on expectation and especially, whether it matches society today.
(3) Oh, how tired I am of the smug declaration “Figured out the culprit”. You didn’t. You did nothing more than guess person A or B. This is touted as a bad thing; docked stars ensuing. I applaud a decipherable mystery. Honestly, if we can’t expound on person A or B’s motive and method, smug guessing does not amount to a weak novel.
(4) Be kind. There is no credibility in the assertion that “something sucks”. Identify likes and dislikes. If preference is a factor, explain. I’ve seen a deceased author, who can produce no more, get two measeley stars because a person “can’t recall how the book goes, so it must not be good”. Ouch! Better to re-read rather than needlessly sink its averages. There are many reasons, completely unrelated to quality, for not recalling the contents of a book in the past. Many that I have refreshed, were found to be of five-star calibre.
I hope this is helpful. Happy spring! My first article on this topic is found here. https://cmriedel.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/spoiler-reviews-need-to-stop/
I reiterated this subject, in a large quiz for the Canadian reading challenge.