Tips on How to Rate a Review on Online Writers' Communities

Online writers' communities have become commonplace. A community of writers, all aspiring for publication or simply to reach a larger audience than the collection of their friends and loved ones can be a tremendous boost for a writer, because every writer needs an audience-even those who write simply because they 'can't not write'. For many aspiring authors, writing communities and critique partners are a great tool for validation of their craft.

Glowing reviews from peers tell you what works, confirm the correctness of the direction you chose and boost your morale as a writer. While praise is an ego booster, a writer always needs to be level-headed in order to remain focused and keep a consistent quality in one's writing. Reviews that provide technical corrections (i.e. spelling, punctuation, grammar, typos, homophones etc.) can help improve the quality of a writer's work.

The problem with writing communities is that feedback is given by writers of varying calibre. Some reviewers write suggestions as though they are law. They rate you down for trivial reasons like neglecting to mention that you're using non-US English, or because they couldn't pronounce your character's name.

As a member of one such writers' community, I've received both positive and negative feedback (including a two-star review for using a level of English deemed to be too advanced for a romance novel!).

So how should a writer handle reviews they receive from writers' communities? Here are my tips:

First thing to remember is that, it's your story. No one else can write or tell you how you want to write your story. However, make sure to get a handle on the basic technical stuff. There are many grammar books as well as online resources available to writers seeking to improve their craft-which I believe we would all like.

Secondly, don't take it personally. Without aural backing, a review can sound harsher than intended. When faced with a negative review, take a step back from your ego and consider the content of the review.

Thirdly, you're not responsible for the reviewer's level of intelligence. If a reviewer doesn't know the meaning of a word, let him/her get a dictionary. A writer shouldn't have to dumb down to make a reviewer feel better. If the reader/reviewer doesn't realise you're using non-US grammar, tough. When you get published, there isn't going to be a note in the book stating what grammar is being used. It's time for readers to get intelligent. If they are clearly not, that's not your fault.

Remember it's only their opinion. You may be lucky enough to get feedback from a seasoned reviewer or editor; either way, all reviews come with some level of subjectivity. Don't expect a reviewer to set aside personal feelings to really assess your writing style and tone. In fact, it may even be necessary for a reviewer (and ultimately, the reader) to have some emotional connection with your story.

Finally, try to put yourself in the reviewer's shoes. If possible, check out a reviewer's other reviews or their writing, if they are writers. Some reviewers simply don't do 'nice', and their reviews are perhaps not meant to be harsh. It's not fair when you get a bad rating for a reviewer's unfamiliarity with your genre or your use of strong language etc., but like I said before, it is only their opinion.

Some reviews are bound to be better than's great to get praise and encouragement; corrections and suggestions will ultimately improve the quality of your work; but every now and then, you'll receive a harsh review and/or a low rating. Be objective and pick out what might help you from the review, and try not to get offended or disheartened. It's the writer's job to learn how to recognise and use the good ones.

Empi Baryeh is an author of heart-warming, multicultural love stories with enough passion to enthrall readers who want a little sizzle with their romance. She lives in her native country, Ghana in West Africa, which provides the exotic setting for most of her stories.


Post a Comment