You can find plenty of opinions, both good and bad, on book reviewers. Likewise, there’s lots of ideas out there about what a review should or shouldn’t do. This past week SF author David Louis Edelman gave his thoughts on what authors want from reviewers. Here’s the list with some of his comments:
- Opinion. “Have one. Better yet: have several.”
- Honesty. “All I want is your honest opinion, whether it’s favorable to me or not.”
- Insight. “Whether you loved it or hated it is not always the point; I want to know that you thought about it.”
- Elaboration. “I can handle the fact that you found the book far-fetched. But I want to know how and where.”
- No anonymity. “There’s a reason Slashdot’s default label for commenters who don’t leave their names is ‘Anonymous Coward.'”
- No pandering. “[P]lease, don’t say pithy things just for the sake of trying to get on the book jacket or the website.”
- No spoilers. “It’s not for my sake that you should avoid spoilers; it’s for the sake of my (potential) readers.”
I think this goes beyond what authors may want and reflects what those who read reviews want and should expect. While I believe I attempt to do what Edelman suggests, these are undoubtedly ideas any reviewer would do well to consider.
Criticism starts – it has to start – with a real passion for reading.
Harold Bloom, The Paris Review, Spring 1991