Recipes for Success: Finding Your Voice
Hello bloggers and reviewers! Today marks Kate’s final Recipe for Success—thank you very much, Kate, for sharing your tips with our readers. In today’s Recipe for Succes she covers finding your voice as a reviewer, an important piece of the puzzle that can help your reviews retain cohesion and draw people back to your site. Do you have more burning questions about starting a new book blog? Let us know in the comments below, or on Twitter #NGextras, and we’ll ask some other pros their opinions!
Recipes for Success aims to give new bloggers and reviewers helpful information, tools, and best practices to help facilitate your growth and effectiveness as reviewers. Check back often for tips and tricks from the insiders!
Finding your Voice as a reviewer
To me, finding your voice is finding the cadence and tone that best fits you when you review. Some people go for a more analytical approach; others try to make each review funny or snarky. There are bloggers that give a quick rundown and give it a thumbs up or down with no frills. I think that voice is a very personal thing, but it’s also very important. …
If your reviews have a certain feel to them (funny, serious, etc.) people will start to integrate that into their overall view of your blog. It might attract people to you (I love her funny reviews!) or it might turn them away (He is so mean when he reviews!). So, because I think we all have a way that we write, it can be very personal. I find that when I try to write a post that’s super funny, it comes across just the opposite because my reviews tend to be a little more analytical. (At least, in my mind).
What about using other media to review?
Certainly vlogs are popular way to post reviews. I might try it if I wasn’t so afraid to see what I would look like on camera. I think it works really well for some blogs and there are quite a number of successful bloggers that use vlogs a lot for reviews, discussions and author interviews. Another alternative review method is the use of GIFs. Ok, I admit that I used to not like those types of reviews. I thought they were oversimplified and often kind of mean. However, I think I’ve changed my mind. I realized that using GIFs was this blogger’s way of expressing herself. Also, someone told me “that’s how kids are reviewing these days” and I immediately felt very old and decided not to view blogs as if were 90. There are probably lots of other ways you could post a review, but you get the picture. Branching out is a good thing and it might even expand your audience.
How others hear your voice
There have been many recent controversies about reviews and how what we say in reviews that seem rude or personal. I thought that this should be addressed because it’s a legitimate concern in the book blogging community. This can be a tough one because “mean” is very subjective when you are writing a review.
Is it mean if I don’t like a book?
No, absolutely not. Some bloggers choose only to review books they really like. Others review no matter what. Whichever way you go, you may want to consider including a line about this in your Review Policy. It’s not an insult to say that you didn’t enjoy a book. I think it becomes a problem when a reviewer steps outside of the role of being a reviewer and starts to talk about things that have nothing to do with the book. (How an author looks or acts, for instance.) However, here are two things that I think are very important:
1. This is your blog. You can review a book however you choose.
2. With great power comes great responsibility, so don’t be a jerk.
Those two ideas are at the core of what I think some of the biggest controversies in book blogging. I am not going to talk about author behavior today because you cannot control how other people will react. You just can’t. You can, however, ask yourself if talking about your opinion of an author as a person rather than talking about the book they have written is really the kind of blogger you want to be. Are those bloggers respected by their peers? Are they respected by authors and publishers? I am not going to give you an answer, I just think that these are questions that are good to ask, especially when you had very negative feelings about a book. We have all read books that we hated. I freely admit that I find it really hard to adequately review a book that I did not like because it’s so much easier to just say “This book was a piece of @%#$” and be done with it. If people come to your blog to hear about why you liked a book, it stands to reason that they would want to know why you didn’t like it. I think of it as building my reviewing skills and it doesn’t help anyone make an informed decision if I can’t give reasoned details about what bothered me.
In the end, I think that your voice is a part of you and you have to be true to it. As for me, I like to try to present a voice that is honest and critical, but also respectful.