Yakkety Yak – Absolutely Awesome Rules Should a Reviewer Live By

Yakkety Yak...Let's Chat

 

I am a person who functions very well with rules and not so much with what I shall call chaos.  I am not a perfectionist, I am also not one to ignore the spirit of the law so to speak, and I am not one who thinks that all rules are for all people.  This is for the quirky crazy person that is me.  I love rules and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  I am no rebel who tosses the rulebook out the window.  It’s a personality thing.  Like loving your morning coffee or evening glass of wine.  Really.  Swear.

So, back to the rules…  These rules can be ones I make up and enforce upon myself, they can be rules of common courtesy, and they can be rules placed upon a situation.  Reviewing comes with rules from all the above sources.  My own made-up rules took longer to form than the other types and they are still more of a living document.

Let me explain a bit more about these categories of rules.

  1. Common courtesy reviewer rules are things like good communication, follow up, scheduling, planning, tidiness, professionalism, kindness, integrity. That sort of stuff that I feel I need to have and be.
  2. Situational reviewer rules are what I call the rules that are given from the sources who offer the review books and tours. Accepting their review or signing up for their tour means I agree to their rules.  Stuff like, complete the form, send in topics and interview questions (in a timely fashion), post on time, share and crosspost, send links, etc.
  3. And lastly, my own made up rules. These are rules that I’ve put in place to make me a better reviewer.  I’ve learned these from observing other reviewers and I’ve learned some by trial and error.

It’s my own rules that I want to focus on.

Up to this point, I’ve probably given the impression that I am someone with some long $30 phobia word behind my name and my reviewer life is flat and dull and awful.

Well it’s not- at least not to me.

See, when I say I have rules, I have rules like:

  1. Reading should be enjoyable so only read it as long as you enjoy it. This translates to- be more discriminate about what books you accept and for Pete’s sake stop reading if you are feeling tortured with boredom, irritation, or anger.  DNFing or setting a book aside is not the end of the world and you really need to get over that issue with having to finish a book once you start.
  2. You hate seeing a huge review book TBR pile so stop snagging every shiny to cross your path. Learn to say no sometimes.  Finish what you’ve got and then get more.  Show proper book envy to others and keep a long wish list.
  3. You committed to reviewing someone’s book so you owe them a timely, substantive, and honest review. Even if you have to re-write the sucker ten times to remove what is possibly a thousand word fan gush or a reader rant.  And on the flip side, you are a reviewer, so you owe readers an articulate, honest assessment of the book.  Emotion is okay to a point and explanations, as difficult as they seem, are in order.  Try not to lose sleep over that book that you just can’t quite put your finger on why it just missed in some way.
  4. Put your review commitments on a list and set up a schedule. It is too embarrassing to come across a review book a year after you got it because it slid through a crack and the author or whomever gave it to you was kind enough not to brow beat you for not writing them a review.
  5. Reviewing doesn’t have to be dull and shouldn’t be since it’s a hobby and not a job. Have fun and put some personality into it.  Non-dictionary sounds and words are perfectly in order.
  6. Be willing to try something new, but remember your limits. Reach out for new authors, new settings, new genres and blends, characters, tropes, but don’t submarine a poor author and book when you know you have pet peeves and hard limits.
  7. Reviewing is not an isolated world. Reach out to others, respond to their reviews, learn from them, but don’t steal from them.  Hang out and chat with folks, but set that timer because Facebook and Pinterest are time stealers.  I only went on there to… does not work for an excuse.
  8. And for the love of Dove Dark Chocolate, don’t get your blogging partner’s email address wrong for two straight weeks after knowing it for years so she panics after seeing an empty mailbox and thinks there are no reviews done while she is away in Florida.

See?  Rules.  Good things and not painful at all.

What about you?  Are you a rule person?  Want to share one or two that you find helpful?

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • oh what a great list of rules you have here!! I agree about the whole if you working with a tour to post on time. One of the reasons I had to leave blogger, was because my scheduled tour posts never published on time. And yeah I felt like the worst blogger EVER!! So that is a pretty vital rule. Now as for reviews I agree to, I usually star those in my email, so I can keep track of them easier and don’t forget those. I agree about saying no to books…it can be hard but it makes life so much better if you are reading books you love and not being stressed out about falling behind on ARC’s. I do agree that its important to have fun with the reviews and put in some personality in it as much as possible. Great points here and very important to remember!! 🙂

    • Oh yeah, I’ve missed a tour post deadline a time or two from the gremlins in the blogosphere. Worst feeling. 🙂
      That’s a good system with your review books. I use a spread sheet that’s color coded to help me know my review book status.
      I have to avoid Net Galley at times just so I don’t try to request another review book. LOL

      Having fun, sigh. So important. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Renee!

  • I love your rules. I try to follow most of them. I try not to request books I’m not interested in. I don’t get too far behind on arcs. I am behind on cross posting reviews. I need to get better about that. I’ve had some reviews that I’ve rewritten a few times and still felt it didn’t do the book justice. This is a great post, Sophia.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    • Thanks, Melanie!

      Always nice to know I’m not the only one who has to shape some rules into my life. Haha!
      You’ve hit on a few in common. I also find it humbling to do a book justice through my reviews.

  • Great set of rules. I only really read books that sound good to me and I tend to read authors that I already like unless the book sounds really good. I take notes during the reading of the book and write the review right after I am done reading. That way I don’t forget anything I want to say.

    • Yes, you’ve got a some good ones there, Mary. It took me a while to get over the reluctance to say ‘no’ when a book didn’t appeal to me. I need to get better about taking notes along the way. My memory isn’t working for that so well anymore. Haha!

  • Oh I break those rules, yikes! But then those last are your own, while I follow my rules or. Enjoy 😀 And read and say what you like. Cos else I will get boring 🙁 And quit blogging, my biggest fear

    • No, we do not want a boring or a non-blogging Blodeudd. So keep your own rules, for sure. 😉 And yes, these are definitely mine and I wouldn’t consciously push them onto someone else.

  • I am a rule follower. Whether it’s the law, in the workplace, etc… That’s one of the reasons I clash with coworkers a lot, because I follow rules to the letter and they see me as a goody-to-shoes. I just hate not doing things right. My blogging rules are pretty much like yours, but even I sometimes don’t always stick to them. I do, however, review books authors send me on time, and try to be honest without seeming callous. It’s hard, especially when a book is really bad.

    • LOL! You and I have the same effect on our co-workers, then. They love the fact that I help them pass our company and government inspections, but they don’t like that it’s because I don’t short-cut or bend rules when we’re not being watched, either. 🙂

      Yeah, it’s really hard not to go on a rant when a book is bad to me. I try to always sprinkle some positive with the negative, but sometimes…that can be hard to find the positive. 🙂

  • My main thing is to try and keep it honest. And if it’s a horrible book and I don’t necessarily need it for review, I’ll just not review it. If I have to, because I have nothing else, I’ll try to come up with something positive to say-if possible. And saying just because it wasn’t a good one for me doesn’t mean it won’t be a good one for someone else works too. I learned that the hard way not long after I started blogging for Pure Textuality-was too honest and the author went ballistic. Wow that was a horrible book! Great topic!

    • Yes, reviewing with integrity was one of the big things that I was determined about, too. I’ve skipped sending over reviews that were from my own stack when I couldn’t finish them b/c I’m with you about the ‘why borrow trouble’ attitude and yes, finding a positive as well as a negative is a good balance.
      Whew, yeah an angry author or author fan is definitely not a fun time.

      Thanks for sharing, Lorna!

  • I loved reading your rules, Sophia! In many ways I adhere to similar ones. I’ve learned over the years to say no, and I’m quite happy with that. 🙂

    • Yes, saying ‘no’ is simple, but yet so hard. I’m working on it. LOL Thanks, Grace!

  • I totally get this Sophia! I also have certain rules or guidelines in my head and there are lots of things I always do in a certain way. DNFíng books was something I had a lot of trouble with when i first started reviewing, but I have gotten better at it now. I don’t DNF often, but if I am not enjoying a book i will DNF it or at least consider it.

    Number 2 though is one I still struggle with. I love getting new books and when I see a book i want on netgalley or get a review request for I have trouble saying no, especially because I know I won’t be able to afford them all if I had to buy it myself. That does cause me to accept a few too many review copies, but I am determined and working on it to get better at this and keeping my pile low. Let’s say I don’t even dare look at my review pile length at the moment.

    And number 6 is a good one too and one I have too. I love to try new to me books, genres and authors, but also try and know y limits and what I really don’t like to see in books.

    One rule I have is also that once I finish a book i write my review before I start a new one, I have made a few exceptions now and then, but this rule is so hardly ingrained in my head that it’s almost impossible for me not to do this. Also it helps me keep the book fresh in my head when I write my reviews. I have trouble putting my emotions in a review and if I want any chance of that happening I need to write that review as soon as possible so I can capture the feelings I had while reading it.

    And I agree that reviewing is not an isolated world anymore. I love visiting other blogs and chatting with other bloggers/ readers and reviewers and make sure to make some time for that every day, even if it’s only replying and commenting back on my own comments. Which is another one of my rules I always reply to comments and comment back. Sometimes it might take me a few days to that, but even when I a busy I don’t manage to not follow that rule. Great post and topic Sophia!

    • Yes, I do think we’re two peas in a pod about the rules, Lola. 😉 I’ve read many of your how-to and discussion posts. You have good solid reasons for doing something the way you do.

      Oh yes, I do like your review post before picking up the next book. I didn’t have that one up here, but I follow a similar rule. Sometimes I need to wait a bit to digest what I just read or calm down as the case may be, but like you, I try to keep up with the reviews per books ratio. For Shari’s sake, I try to send them to her as I go so she gets steady amounts of reviews as opposed to days of silence and then a dumping.

      Same here about the comments. I try to get around to other blogs, but I am solid on my own rule of replying to those who visit here and also returning visits. It’s not just an obligation, but I like visits back and forth like it was real life.

      Thanks for your thoughts, Lola!

  • I keep mine simple. Treat it like a job (take it seriously), blog how I want to blog, step outside of my comfort zone now and again.

    • Those are definitely good tenets to go by. Many good actions and behavior as a blogger who plans to stay the course flow from just what you’ve got right there. I appreciate you point about treating it as a job and I get what you mean. Taking it seriously and yet the freedom in doing it your way. I think you do fantastic about pushing yourself out of the everyday and trying new things. 🙂