Participants in the AWW challenge are free to write what they like on their own blogs and review pages. For the AWW challenge, however, we do encourage reviews that respect the books under discussion, their authors, future readers and copyright laws. (And it’s what we look for when considering links to include in monthly round-ups.)
Briefly, our suggestions are as follows:
- Please don’t just summarise the plot.
- If your review contains “spoilers” (i.e. comments that give away plot developments), fair warning should be given to readers at the beginning of the review so they can choose to stop reading. Hint: lots of readers hate spoilers.
- Avoid quoting large chunks of text out of context. This is annoying to authors and other readers.
- Try not to make your review too long – or too short. Three lines after quoting the publisher’s blurb or summarising the plot is fine if all you’re after is to join the AWW conversation, but it doesn’t, in our view, constitute a review and won’t be linked to our roundups.
- We seek honest responses, both positive and negative, but, if possible, please give evidence for your opinions – especially if they’re negative.
We realise most AWW participants are avid readers, not literary critics, but some of you might welcome further tips on writing good reviews. Author and reviewer Annabel Smith wrote a piece for the 2012 AWW challenge, “What makes a good review?”
Another great place to start is to read good reviews, and try to figure out what works and why. If you’re really serious, you might like to get an idea of what constitutes a standard professional review by examining reviews of books by Australian women that have appeared in mainstream media in recent years. To help you with this, one of our AWW volunteers compiled two lists of reviews that were (and hopefully still are) available online, one for 2015, the other for 2014 (compiled October 2016). If you aspire to be a professional reviewer you might to check these out. Also refer to the Advice for New Reviewers and Advice for New Contributors by Peter Rose, editor of the Australian Book Review. Other journals will have their own submission guidelines.
Happy reviewing and don’t forget to share what you discover on social media!