How to write a bad review?

by Jamie Brazil, Portland
Her blog
Author of Prince Charming, Inc.

How to write a bad review… or a very good one.  Let’s face it, in this day and age anybody with an internet connection can buy and sell pretty much anything.  So the art of leaving a review – whether it’s for a book, a hotel, a Zumba class, a blender, or whatever – is having the skills to make other consumers sit up and listen.

You are influential… if you are relatable to other consumers.

The idea for this post came to me because I got a BAD review on one of my books. These things happen occasionally, and I don’t take them personally, but something about this review FELT OFF. Rereading it, I realized the reviewer was so generic in her opinion that her review could have been copied and pasted to ten thousand other novels and no one would know the difference.  That’s a BAD bad review.

So here’s a few tips on how to be taken seriously if you’ve got a legitimate beef (or if you really love something and want to share it with the world):

  1. State what it is. Sounds simple, but so many people forget to name the object, service, genre, etc.
  2. Name names.  The snotty hotel clerk, the TSTL heroine, the toxic toilet bowl      cleaner. Name it.
  3. We all forget names. They evaporate from memory like water in an open bottle of Evian in the Sahara. Don’t make up names if you can’t recall them. Use a specific detail if you can.
  4. Sound intelligent, but rein in your Smarty-Pants tendencies. Skip throwing around Latin phrases that only one      percent of the population will get.
  5. Rage does not equal respect. You’ll just sound bat-$#!t crazy.
  6. Strike a balance. Even if you’ve had a horrendous experience, maybe the price was right, or the lobby was      beautiful, or the gas-mileage was great. Find something to love, or at least like.
  7. Stars don’t matter all that much, details do. Five stars, one star… who cares? My worst review has five stars and reads      something like, “This fairy tale romance is unbelievably fantastic.” My stomach twists every time I see that backhanded review. Minor details make your review stand out.
  8. Mix up your stars.  If you five-star everything, you’re lying. If you one-star everything, you’re a very cranky person.
  9. Write more than one review. How many times have I gone to Amazon, read a negative review, then clicked on the reviewers other reviews, and, guess what, THERE ARE NONE!
  10. Check your spelling. The occasional typo is acceptable, even encouraged, but nothing looks worse than a review filled with spelling errors.

So that’s my two cents.  What’s the worst, most scathing review you’ve ever written and why?  If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine.

Jamie Brazil is the author of A Fart in Time, as well as other books, and appreciates ALL her reviews.

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