Friday, 18 March 2016

Unique Alternatives That Will Shake Up Boring Reviews


There's a general consensus that reviews are the least liked and least read posts in the blogosphere. They're the posts that people skip reading, the posts that generally take the longest to write, and they aren't just easily plucked out of thin air, I mean, you've actually got to do an entirely different activity before you can even write anything, unlike discussions or how-to posts that can go from roaring idea to words in a matter of seconds. In fact, there's a lot of the same phrases going around lately..

  • 'I'm never in the mood to write reviews.'
  • 'I just can't bring myself to sit and write them.'
  • 'I've got a backlog of reviews I just don't want to write'
  • 'I don't read enough to be able to create constant review content.'
  • 'Reviews are the least liked, so I like writing them least.'

The list could go on and on, but the general vibe is that reviews are demanding little buggers that want you to sit down and come up with fabulous words that don't always encourage anyone to do anything, and we simply don't have the time, the effort, or motivation for them if that's the end result. The said truth is, if you haven't heard of the book, seen the book, or read the book, you probably won't be clicking the 'read more' button, and that means you've wasted your time entirely.

It's time to shake up your reviews, creative style!


You actually don't have to write reviews for anybody, not for publishers, not brands, nobody whatsoever, at least, not in the way you're used to seeing them. You don't have to stick with the traditional paragraphed style, turning your focus onto something different for each one, you can actually do whatever the heck you want, however you want, and still get your feelings about a product or service without taking a head-first dip into a very deep well.

But Amanda, I don't know how! How do I write reviews that aren't, review like?

Aha, the million $$$ question. Oh, would you look at that, here's a lovely, inspiring list of various creative ways you can write 'book reviews' without feeling the need to gouge your eyes out with a spork.

Write a Conversational Letter to a Character


I've used this method quite a few times, my most popular examples being Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly, which wasn't too bad, and The Rain by Virginia Bergin, which really was not for me. It's proven to be a much easier method in terms of finding the right words, and it also feels more casual, more conversational and less pompous and professional, which is a million times more interesting and than a mature, concise, step-by-step review. It works well when you have serious feelings towards characters, be them positive or negative, but I'd wager they'd be pretty good for almost any type of book..

Write a Collective Recommendations Post


I bet you some serious coinage that you've stumbled upon posts titled '10 Dystopia Books Fans of The Hunger Games Simply MUST Read' or '5 Epic YA Fantasy Novels That Blew My Mind Recently' and been really tempted to check them out, more so than you ever been towards a review. There's an air of mystery surrounding the post, and the title is much more punchy than the plain old 'Book Review - Insert Title and Author Here' format. That's the reason these posts get more views - it's all in the title.

Related: 101+ Popular Blog Title Templates That Work via Olyvia.co

This method also allows you to quickly show off a small selection of books with a short and snappy piece relating to the topic you've chosen, without the need to stay up reading 10 books a night and drown your social life in a sea of books. Oh, did I also mention they're much more fun and less stressful to write, and that with the right kind of attractive images, these posts find themselves shared at least 60% more.

Speaking of images..

Create an Infographic or Image Review


Infographics are bigger than they've ever been lately with thanks to Pinterest, both physically and in popularity, and rightly so. They enable you to share a posts with of content, visually, attractively and all in one place, without the need to actually absorb the jumble of language. They're perfect for the lazy reader, and they're damn well perfect for sharing on social media too.

Although this method lends themselves to more the physically and artistically creative than those who are, less so, it's definitely a simpler way of recommending books and sharing your thoughts to people than an entire post, especially through Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. It's so much easier to get people clicking through to your content when they can see what the content includes, rather than promising them a screen full of text saying 'I LOVED THIS BOOK, READ IT!'

Create a Pro and Cons List, or Any Type of List


You actually don't have to go into huge amount of detail in reviews. I used to, but that was because I just naturally have a lot, I'm very much a keyboard talker, but if you're not, you don't have to be. You don't have to go into 'character development' or 'world building' if that's not your thing, just put the cards on the table. If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it's seriously just a duck, and the same goes for your reviews, if you didn't like something, and don't think someone else will like that something, then tell them about that something, without going around the houses.

You don't even need to be eloquently gifted with words, it could be as simple as:
  • The ____ was so bad, I snored half way through.
  • ____ was SO irritating, I wanted to throttle them.
  • What the actual hell on earth was that plot twist?

Aim, shoot and fire bullets, it's a simple case of just go for it. Cait over at Paper Fury has done a cracking amount of examples using this method, in fact, it's almost her go to style, and it works. It's quicker, easier and much less demanding than a traditional review, and I find people actually prefer this style because it allows for simple skimming rather than setting up camp.

Include Images, Gifs or Videos


Now that blogging has quickly become more visual, it's a serious recommendation that you make use of it, and do it well. You only have to take a look at Youtube to see how well video has taken off, and in the business sector of blogging, Periscope has been a game changer for personalising and humanising business brands and lives.

Simple flourishes like your own photography between your traditional review can really make a huge difference, making the experience more positive and less text heavy, and it could encourage return visitors if they know the expect your beautiful shoots of the books you're reviewing. Inserting gifs could also completely change a review, or better still, creating a review entirely out of gifs can really bring something unique to the table.

Related Posts:

How To Prepare For Photography Photoshoots (complete with 50+ prop ideas!)
My Quick and Easy 5-Step Process To Editing Photos (with Picmonkey!)


You don't have to do what everyone else is doing. Go crazy!


You don't have to write a review, you don't have to critic a book as everyone else does, in fact, if you do something different, you're bound to be noticed for that difference, and your idea might be so good, people will follow in footsteps. You don't have to write reviews, you should never feel obligated to write as other people do. Get creative, do something different, share your feelings in a way that works for you, and whatever you do, do not feel stuck doing something you don't enjoy.

Do you feel unmotivated to write reviews, and if so, why?

31 comments:

  1. I love this post Amanda! I really needed it. :) I've been trying to think of ways I can spice up my reviews for a while. I don't really like writing them since they generally take me the longest time to write. Plus they get less views than anything else so it sometimes feels like they aren't worth the effort even though I like sharing my thoughts.

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    1. I ALWAYS felt that way too Emz, I put so much time into them and they rarely brought in traffic, but getting creative always saw a spike in my views, so it's worth trying one or two of them for sure :)

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  2. I really needed this. I have been wanting to write a post about how my reviews all sound "samey." It has been getting on my nerves and this really helps me. It allows me to see some alternatives and sparks some creativity in me to come up with some ideas myself. Thanks so much for this, Amanda! :D

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    1. You're welcome Erica! I think we all fall into the normal review trap, and it's a shame, because the options are vast, so hopefully you'll be able to smash some of these ideas! :)

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  3. Love this post! :D I'm trying some new things here and there, like the list-type of review because it IS easier and quicker. I LOVE Cait's reviews, so that's why, maybe? I also often see posts like "x reasons you need to read y" and I like those too. :-)

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    1. They're definitely easier and quicker to put together, and I find they do better too. Hopefully you see a difference in these methods in your reviews Bee! :)

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  4. I love writing (and reading) reviews! As a book blogger, I think that book reviews are the most vital part of blogging. From my experience I know that my followers who are non-bloggers visit my blog only when I post review since they are not that interested in memes or discussions. So tahnks for this post Amanda, you are doing book bloggers a favor by giving them these ideas :)

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    1. Thank you so much for saying say Lucia! I know how difficult it was to get creative when I was a reviewer, so hopefully they really do help somebody along the way :)

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  5. Oh yeah, reviews are THE HARDEST. I actually wrote my first one in February so I am such a newbie to reviews! Both my reviews so far are discussion reviews and the format seems to be well-loved in the comments, but there HAS been a drop in comments and I'm trying to figure out whether it's a general thing in my other bloggish behaviour or if it's because they're reviews.

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    1. I do like the format of yours, because you're integrating different techniques in them, and it works to bring in more visitors! I do think people comment less on a review because there's no opinion to share, if that makes sense? But hey, keep up the being awesome Alyssa! :)

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  6. Great post, Amanda.
    I find reviews hard to write and have no idea what to say about some books.
    I'm definitely going to try and use your ideas in my future reviews :)

    Jess @ A Book Addict's Bookshelves

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    1. Thanks Jess! Hope some of these help you out in the long term :)

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  7. I have far too many reviews that I need to write right now, which puts me off straight away. I'm all for gifs and more gifs. I just adore them... far too much!!! ;)

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    1. You do love your gifs don't you Charnell! Go you, if it works, stick with it :)

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  8. These are some great ideas. After reading a great book it's hard to translate the appreciation into words. Also okay books are difficult to elaborate on. This post is going to help me with that.

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    1. I definitely agree with you there, okay books are the WORST, because you have emotions either way. In that sense, I think list ideas work well, you can alway find things then :)

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  9. YESSSS. I LOVE THIS POST! And I may have shrieked a little in happiness when you mentioned my blog. :') Hehe. Lists are definitely my favourite way to review. I think it makes for easy skimming and an overall idea of the blog. ALSO it's very easy to zero in on things you like/dislike when looking for what book to read next. I love me a list. Or two. Or forty, let's be real. Ahem.
    So I actually am probably one of the only people in the blogosphere who LOVES WRITING REVIEWS. XD It's nearly my favourite part of reading! I honestly close a book, grab my laptop, and start the review straight away. ;D They are definitely not my most trafficked or interest-gaining post though? So I tend to just goodreads most reviews and leave my blog for content that people are keen to comment on. :P But I DO so love writing reviews. :')

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    1. Aw but Cait, your reviews are fabulous, and you should be aware of it, of course I had to mention you! I think that's a clever way of doing it, knowing which ones people WILL be interested in and posting them is super good, and it clearly works out well for you ;)

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  10. I am probably the exception because I love writing reviews, they are part of the reading process for me. And I never really have trouble with writing them, sometimes I don't know what to write, but once I sit down to write my review the words will usually start flowing.
    They do seem to get less comments though than my non-review posts, I don't check my visitor number enough, but they probably would say the same. I also like reading reviews on other people their blogs, although posts like discussion posts and such are easier to comment on.

    I do like your ideas to give an original twist to reviews, I always like seeing other types of reviews on other people their blog and seen a few fun styles. Your idea of doing a best X genre post does got me thinking of how I can do one about cozy mysteries and recommend some books, it's a genre I started reading more books in lately and it would be fun to list my fav's so far. Even though I have already reviewed them, it will be fun to give my favourite another shout out that way. Thanks for the idea!

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    1. I definitely think being able to throw short reviews or shoutouts in discussion of recommending posts make things SO much easier, especially for those of us who can't always handle writing a full review. Still, your methods are super interesting, so thanks for sharing Lola! :)

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  11. These are EXCELLENT ideas. A lot of the time I try to make my reviews into discussions, which tends to help - even though it takes more time. And I have a feature called the "Loony List" which is like a TL;DR version of the review right at the top, with 5 reasons to read the book. Anything outside the box tends to get a good reaction :)

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    1. Thanks Emily! I find that too - anything that isn't traditional and samey does really well :)

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  12. I love to do random lists instead of reviews, they are easier to write. We'll have to try some of these other ideas :)

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    1. Hope some of these ideas work out well for you Julie! :)

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  13. I've actually just posted a review with only bullet points and separating my likes and dislikes. And I think I might be sticking to that. I think it's much more fun for me and for others to look at instead of just reading paragraphs. And every now and again, I stick some gifs in my reviews too. Because let's face it, no one wants to read an essay. I like it when it's broken down. It's much more fun to read :D

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    1. Oh definitely spacing out really works, it's good for almost every post, making things seperate the post so it flows and is scannable is a must! Hope you continue to work your reviews how you want them :)

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  14. I've really enjoyed the letter to a character type reviews, though I normally end up writing both a traditional review AND writing a letter when I do that. I've done a few list ones too --- I'm a terrible list person; I always end up writing too much to make a list format feel effective :P

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    1. That's not a bad thing thought Liza, you could share one on your blog and one on Goodreads, you could use both you know? As long as you like you do, then you're fine :)

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  15. That's a great post. One of the recent changes I did to my blog is how I write my reviews - especially choosing the titles. Thank you for giving the heads up on various ways about how to do it.

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    1. You're super welcome Vidya! :)

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  16. *casually builds shrine in honor of this post*
    ok so YES GIRL THIS IS EVERYTHING. My ultimate favorite thing in everything ever is originality and this post is so inspiring in that aspect.
    For reviews, i have an "emoji overview" and make inforgraphics for pinterest. I'm so proud of my emoji overview! I took me hours of brainstorming to come up with that one.
    I never though of a letter to a character! SO FREAKIN CLEVER ��
    scrumptious post, thank you!

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