Stop Posting Spoilers — and Other Tips for Writing An On-Line Review

The last time I wrote a blog post about how to write and on line reviews was nearly nine years ago.  Back then, I was really explaining to visitors to my site how to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

I realize that, these days, most people (or at least most people who read my books) know how to do this.  But it has come to my attention that there are several things many people do in writing their reviews that annoy other people.  So I figured I would write a new post, trying to correct some of these problems.

1. DO NOT PUT SPOILERS IN YOUR REVIEW!!!!

There is not a single person on earth who appreciates having a review spoil a surprise in a book that they want to read.  NO ONE!  And writing ‘Warning: Spoilers Ahead’ does not mitigate the damage.

It is very very easy to not put a spoiler in your review.  Simply don’t share anything from the book that you were surprised to find out.  Of course, this not only applies to writing reviews on websites, but also comments on this webpage — or any other.

And, for the record, I am not only talking to amateur reviewers here.  There are plenty of professional — or at least seasoned — reviewers who spoil things in their reviews all the time.  Don’t do it.  Or random people will hate you.

2. ROUND UP.

Just about every site only gives you five options for reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 stars.  Admittedly,  having only five options lacks nuance.  That said, it is staggering to see how many times someone will give a four star review and say, ‘I really think this should be 4.5 stars.’  If you ever feel like this, round up!  That’s just basic math, people.  And do you know what it costs you to give something 5 stars instead of 4?  NOTHING.

3. BE OPEN-MINDED

If you don’t like the subject matter that a book veers into, that doesn’t mean it deserves a one star review.   Because that isn’t really a review of the book at all; it’s your own personal issues coming through.

If you don’t believe in evolution and a book mentions it, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. If you are uneasy with the concept of homosexuality and a book has a gay character, that doesn’t make it a bad book.  If you feel that a book shouldn’t use a synonym for ‘buttocks’ and it does, that doesn’t make it a bad book.  (In that case, try reviewing the book for the 69,999 words in it that didn’t offend you, rather than the 1 that did.)  A bad review based on your own personal issues says more about you than it does about the book.

4. BE NICE TO OTHERS WHO WILL READ THE REVIEW

Recently, I have had issues with people purposefully posting spoilers — or even fake spoilers — simply to upset people.  That’s not cool.

That said, if you really didn’t like a book of mine, you should feel free to write a review saying that you didn’t like it.  Personally, I find well-written reviews explaining what a person’s problems with my book were to be very helpful.  (Although I certainly like reading 5-star reviews more.)

5. DON’T GIVE A BOOK A BAD REVIEW AS A JOKE

You’re probably thinking to yourself ‘Why is Stuart even writing this?  What kind of knucklehead would post a bad review as a joke?’

This one, for starters:

And that’s not the only time i have found a review like this.  I can’t believe I have to say this, but: Don’t do this!  Most people don’t read every single review a book has.  They just look at the cumulative ratings.  A once star review doesn’t get counted as a joke.  It gets counted as the worst possible review.

Also… This isn’t even remotely funny.  Would you think it was funny if a teacher gave you an F on a test and then said, “I was just joking!”  I am guessing that you would not.  So please, folks, if you’re going to make a joke on-line, don’t do it at someone else’s expense — and also, try to be funny.

Okay.  I’ve said my piece.  Thanks for reading this.

83 thoughts on “Stop Posting Spoilers — and Other Tips for Writing An On-Line Review

  1. Hi everyone –

    FJ8 will not be published until spring 2023. So do not expect a cover reveal for at least a year, if not longer.

  2. Agent Rabbit –

    I write my drafts on a computer. It is much easier to edit on the computer, and it is much safer to send the scripts to my publisher electronically than it is to trust the mail.

  3. If Alexander Hale is as bad as spy as we think, why couldn’t Erica have just slipped a recording device on him w/out him noticing and then strike up a casual conversation about how bad a spy he is?

    Then she would take the recording to the head of the CIA and prove that Alexander is a fraud.

    I know the CIA already knows this, but they would’ve found out years before if Erica had thought of this.

  4. Alex Z –

    hehe is right. Erica would never do that to her father. She might be angry at him — but she still loves him. She would not betray him.

  5. Can you bring me back into the book, please? And yes, I read the FAQ. I mean in Funjungle 12 or something.

  6. Alexander Zverev-
    I agree current Erica, no way, but Ice Queen, possibly

    -Axolotl in a Bottle

  7. Mr. Gibbs?
    Which language do you speak?
    I speak English, Chinese, Korean, German[little], and Spanish[little]

  8. Hi Mr. Gibbs!
    We are four sisters that LOVE your books (especially the Spy School series). We each have something to say about Spy School so here they are:

    Mr. Gibbs,
    I love your books! Thanks you for writing such an amazing series for my siblings and I to enjoy. I especially love your emphasis on the environment. Do you have any tips for becoming a better creative writer? I love to write but sometimes get stuck going into way too much detail or not enough. Thank you! – Aspen

    I think your books are amazing! Every book is a page turner and I can’t wait for the next ones to come out! We actually live in Annapolis, Maryland where the Rotko family is from and that’s so cool! – Hazel

    Hi! I love your books (just like my sisters). I have one suggestion: I think Erica should get injured and land in the hospital like Ben does. It would show vulnerability on her side and provide and chance for us to see more of the Hale family dynamics. It would also be a good chance for some Berica development (How does Ben deal with Erica being badly injured? How does this affect their relationship). Anyway, the Spy School books are my favorite and I can’t wait for #10 regardless of the plot!! – Luna 🙂

    Hi Mr Gibbs i really like your books especially spy school i usually can’t keep up with my sisters reading but this one i can also can the next book come out soon i read with my dog and ollie can’t wait much longer thank you – wren

  9. Mr Gibbs i was truley thinking ‘what knucklehead would do THAT?!’ in my mind thank you for noticing that. i have also been seeing a few of those too.

  10. Aspen, Hazel, Luna & Wren –

    Thanks so much for your kind thoughts. Aspen, the best advice i have for becoming a better creative writer is to read as much as you can. See how other authors work with ideas, find ones you like and try to learn from what they do. Luna, I have some twists in the Ben & Erica relationship coming in SS10.

  11. Mister Gibbs, about how many books are you planning on weiting in the SS series? And will you make another series? I really like your books. My most favorite series were funjungle and spy school. I love your books, Mister Gibbs!

  12. thebunny –

    I do not know how many books will be in any of my series.

    I am starting a new series on March 1: Once Upon A Tim. There is information about it on my books page.

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