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.

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

  1. In spy ski school, Ben said there was a piece of info he missed at the zoo with Mike that may have cost him the whole mission. Was that just a cliffhanger, or was there really a piece of info, and if so, what was it? I absolutely love your books, and this is a repost because I couldn’t find my og comment. Thanks for the amazing books, keep up the good work!! ???

  2. Meredith –

    Ben missed that Mike had just told him that he had a place to stay in Colorado and might come out as well.

  3. Hey Stu! I wanted to ask you, do you live in South Carolina or Los Angeles? Seeing as your FAQ page shows that you live in Los Angeles but your School Visits page shows South Carolina.

  4. Francis A –

    I live in Los Angeles. My School Visits page says that I live in Southern California, not South Carolina.

  5. you claim that these siries are not in the same universe and i think that it is cool that even though the sires fun jungle and spy school are in difrient universes i think it is cool how you made the siris share minor ditails for example in a spyschool book you have a torist wearinv a snakes alive t shirt eventhough snakes alive is not a major thing in spyschool it is a major thing i funjungle

    sorry about the bad grammer and spelling

  6. I love all your books, I Have read all spy school books but goes north at least 17 times thanks for your awesome books I hope you continue to not only develop existing series but also new ones.

  7. andrew –

    Wow. 17 times? I’m flattered.

    And yet, there is no way that I can continue all my existing series but also come up with new ones. So I am going to focus on my existing series for now and perhaps create a new one in the future.

  8. Hi Mr. Gibbs
    Are you going to make all the spy school series into graphic novels?

  9. thank you! and one more question, are you going to make the funjungle series graphic novels too?

  10. LIAR! I LOVE SPOILERS SO NOT NO ONE! YOU COULD HAVE SAID NO ONE WITH FEW EXECPTIONS! I THRIVE ON SPOILERS! I LOOK FOR SPOILERS THEN WATCH THE SHOW OR READ THE BOOK!

  11. I don’t like the spoilers there are terrible! just read the book its way more exciting.

  12. Christopher G –

    I do not know if all the book series will be turned into GNs. Hopefully, that will happen though.

  13. Mr Gibbs –
    OK! Because you are my number 1 author and your books will be so cool in a GN’s

  14. Christopher Gulotta –

    I will not be releasing any information about FJ9 for at least a year.

  15. Hey, I think I read in your blog somewhere that you walked your dog when you had writers block. If so, what is your dogs name?
    Ps. What is your favorite type of chocolate?

  16. idk –

    My dog prefers that I keep its name a secret.

    I just like good dark chocolate.

  17. Christopher Gulotta

    If I knew what SS12 was going to be named, I would have revealed it.

    Stay tuned to this site for details.

  18. mr Gibbs ,
    what the different between an Exclusive Edition book and a normal Edition book? do they have different words or is it just a marketing thing ?

    – Chris.G

  19. Mr. Gibbs
    I just want to say I am a big fan of basically all of your book series. My favorite one is spy school. But in your next SS book, are you going to bring back Chip and Jawa?

  20. Tucker –

    I can’t reveal what is going to happen in future books. That ruins the fun of reading them.

  21. Dear Mr. Gibbs,

    Will you be at the Irving Convention Center next year?

    Sincerely,
    Akshaj

  22. Akshaj –

    If I am invited to NTTBF next year, it will be at the Irving Convention Center again.

  23. Aiden –

    Is New York considered up country?

    I am not scheduling any events over the summer. I’m sure I will have some in the fall, but I don’t know where those will be yet.

  24. I don’t know if this is a spoiler or not but does Rhonda Rhino live in the Asian Plains or in the African Savanna because I read the book and saw that she lives in the Asian Plains. And FunjungleWiki says that she lives in the African savanna.

  25. A –

    The book itself would be more accurate than the Wiki. I don’t write the Wiki.

  26. Mr. Gibbs-
    Does Doc Deakin have two daughters? Since in Belly Up on page 262, he wants to protect his daughter who’s name is (supposedly) Susie. But in Lion Down, his daughter’s name is Lily. Does he have two daughters or was it a mistake?

    -Thanks, Liam

  27. Hi Mr. Stuart!
    Firstly, I want to say that I love your books and appreciate the amount of intelligence and planning that go into them (Charlie Thorne especially). That being said, I do have some concerns. Some of your most recent novels in funjungle and spyschool have contained bi-sexual ideas and make me uneasy. If you are going to continue down that path, I may have to stop reading. Sorry if this is a critical comment, but I thought this should be addressed as some of your other readers are probably wondering the same thing.
    Thank you!

  28. Ben Ripley –

    It is not my policy to reveal ANYTHING about what will happen in future books for fear of spoiling the stories. Just know that, if you plan to keep reading books, you are always going to come across ideas that may be different from your own. That’s one of the main benefits of reading.

  29. Page 73 in British Invasion is a bit to weird .Can you not put that same stuff in any other books? Sorry if this note is mean.

  30. Michael P Spencer –

    As an author, I do not take suggestions about what to write or not write from readers. If I tried to avoid everything someone found uncomfortable, I would not be able to write anything at all.

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