All Kindred Readers® reviews should be candid, constructive and concise. Each review consists of a short headline (up to 100 characters), an overall book score, individual element scores, and reviewer comments (50-250 words). To be accepted, your review must adhere to our Member Guidelines.
In general, Kindred Readers scores reflect the following ratings:
- 1 stars = Failed to meet minimal expectations
- 2 stars = Below average
- 3 stars = Average
- 4 stars = Above average
- 5 stars = Exceptional
Our system permits zero, full and half-star scores for all ratings.
Overall Book Score
The reviewer should give the book an overall score that reflects their experience of reading the book. Your overall score may or may not be an average of the individual element scores. Colloquially, our scoring system may translate to the following:
- 1 stars = This book has major flaws. I couldn't finish it or I had to force myself to finish it.
- 2 stars = I did not enjoy this book but others might.
- 3 stars = The book was an okay read. I might be willing to read other books by this author, but I probably wouldn't seek them out.
- 4 stars = This was a good book. I'd recommend it to a friend, and/or I'll keep an eye out for other books by this author.
- 5 stars = This was a great book. I'd buy this book for a friend, and/or I'll now actively follow this author's work.
Our system permits zero, full and half-star scores for all ratings.
Individual Element Scores
In addition to the overall book score, reviewers should score the book on the following individual elements:
- Characterization - In fiction, many would equate this with character creation/development: Are the characters distinctive and fully realized? Does the character arc drive conflict and advance the plot? Nonfiction encompasses a wide range of material, but the fundamentals still apply: Is the author’s purpose clear? Is the material presented in a manner appropriate to the author’s intent and the qualities of the topic?
- Narrative arc - In fiction, many would think of this in terms of plot and pacing: Does the story pull you forward in a compelling manner? Does the plot unfold in a satisfying rhythm? The same is true for nonfiction: As a reader, do you experience movement, tension, transformation, resolution?
- Style - Many would equate this with aspects of voice. For example, in fiction: To what extent has the writer mastered the use of literary devices, setting, theme, dialogue, subplot and structure to create a richly textured, cohesive story? Is the voice original and consistent? For nonfiction, you may wish to think in terms of tone, clarity and effectiveness. What techniques does the author employ to explain the content or support their argument? Does the book accomplish what the author intended? If the book is illustrated, to what extent do the graphic elements contribute?
- Technical elements - How competently were the logistics of the book (e.g., copyediting, proofreading, ebook formatting, graphics) executed?
What to include
First, let's discuss what NOT to include:
- a detailed synopsis or list of characters
- a full critique of the book
- irrelevant comments about the author
- plagiarized content or copyrighted material
- libelous, unlawful or inflammatory speech
- abusive, obscene, threatening or profane language
The first two are inappropriate for our review format; the latter four are in direct conflict with our Member Guidelines. We want reviewers to offer their opinions of the books they read but all comments must be pertinent and civil. Kindred Readers reserves the right to remove a review that is against our Guidelines and may remove a reviewer from the reviewer pool or the Kindred Reader network if their behavior is inconsistent with community standards.
What should you include?
Because Kindred Readers reviews are short (50-250 words), we suggest you focus on what a potential reader needs to know to make a decision about whether to buy the book.
How to write a helpful review
- Approach each book with an open mind. If you're strugging, consider the possibility that the author may be attempting something unexpected (e.g., the story may be an allegory or employ a nontraditional use of language — think A Clockwork Orange or Finnegan's Wake).
- Take notes as you read so you can record your impressions in the moment. Capture a specific example or quote you can incorporate in your review.
- Give the book a solid shot. If you simply can't finish it, say so in your review.
While writing the review:
- Give only enough background on the characters, setting and plot to establish context.
- Share your experience of reading the book. How did it make you feel? What memories or images did it conjur?
- Offer advice to readers. Is this a great beach read? Does it beg to be read aloud?
- Bring your own expertise to bear. Place the book in the context of the genre/field and, if possible, the author's other work.
- Tell us what, if anything, makes this book worth a reader's time.
- Take the time to proof your review and write an effective headline.
How to write a helpful negative review
If you took no pleasure in reading the book, take no pleasure in discussing its shortcomings. The author invested many hours in writing it and that, at least, is deserving of recognition. It is possible to write a review that is both negative and respectful.
Here are some tips for writing a negative review:
- Find something nice to say. The author has probably done some things well even if the book was poorly written. For example, perhaps it's evident they did extensive research into a character's trade. Even if the information was inexpertly integrated, acknowledge the effort.
- Mix positive and negative feedback, and give specific examples.
- If you have a recommendation (e.g., "This book would benefit from the assistance of a professional editor" or "This book would be greatly improved if the author shifted the POV to character Y"), volunteer it.
- Focus on the type of reader who might enjoy the book or a setting in which reading it might be more enjoyable. For example, if character development is lacking but it's a fast-paced read, it might be a good book to read on a plane.
Signed or anonymous?
People have strong opinions about whether all reviews should be signed. Some feel that you shouldn't say something about a book anonymously that you wouldn't say to the author's face. Others may hesitate to give their honest opinion if forced to sign a review. After all, authors are only human — it's hard to take criticism, no matter how carefully worded or reader-focused the comments may be.
Because our goal is to ensure that every review on Kindred Readers is completely candid — no self-censorship, no fear of repercussions or reprisals — we let YOU decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether you wish to sign a review by posting it under your real name or post it anonymously, under your unique ReviewerID.
Whether your review is anonymous or signed, it should be honest but fair, providing valuable feedback to both potential readers and the author. Members whose reviews do not honor the spirit of our Member Guidelines will be removed from the reviewer pool until the difficulty is resolved.
Review due dates
- Regular Reviews - Regular reviews are due within 28 days of invitation.
- Running late? You'll still receive partial credit for the review if it meets our Guidelines and you submit it no later than day 31.
- Rush Reviews - Rush review are due within 14 days of invitation.
- Running late? You'll still receive partial credit for the review if it meets our Guidelines and you submit it no later than day 17.
Note that the clock starts when the invitation is issued.
Declining to review
You should either accept or decline the review within three days of invitation.
If you wish to decline:
- Within 72 hours of invitation - If your reviewer status was set to "available" and you do not wish to review a book that you've been invited to review, you may use tokens to decline the invitation. We'll simply find another appropriate reviewer and that's the end of it.
- If you have not responded within 72 hours of assignment - We'll withdraw the invitation and find another reviewer for the book. Tokens will be deducted from your account for Failure to Respond to an Invitation to Review.
If you accept the invitation, download links will appear and you may download the book at your convenience. Although we will send you prompts during the review period to remind you of the review's due date, you may wish to put the deadline on your calendar.
If at any point you realize you cannot complete a review you've agreed to complete by the deadline (e.g., because of family emergency or conflict of interest), please contact us immediately. We recognize that unforeseen circumstances arise, and as long as you stay in touch with us we'll do our best to work with you.
Failure to review
If your reviewer status was set to "available" and you fail to complete a review you agreed to within the grace period (i.e., by day 31 for regular reviews, by day 17 for rush reviews), we consider that Failure to Review. Two such instances will result in suspension of your reviewing privileges until the difficulty has been resolved.
If an emergency occurs and you realize you will be unable to complete your review on time, please contact us IMMEDIATELY so we can discuss an extension of your due date or replacement as a reviewer. You will not be penalized for circumstances beyond your control.
Visit the MY REVIEWS tab on your Dashboard. Click on the book title, then the Submit Review button.
Why cross-post reviews?
Reviews provide readers guidance, and a good review on a book vendor website encourages readers to try an unknown author. We recognize that it takes a few extra moments to cross-post your review but doing so helps readers discover our authors (and earns you tokens!). Please support our authors by cross-posting your reviews, particularly if the overall score was 3 stars or above.
Why must Kindred Readers reviews be cross-posted unaltered?
At Kindred Readers, we require all members adhere to our Review Guidelines; we want candid, constructive reviews. For this reason, any review you cross-post from Kindred Readers should be posted in an unaltered* form.
* With the exception of an appropriate "free copy for review purposes" disclaimer. We recommend the following: "I was invited to review this book and was provided a complimentary copy for that purpose. My review is completely objective."
How do I cross-post reviews to book vendor websites?
When your review is published on Kindred Readers, you'll receive a notification inviting you to cross-post your review to vendor websites.
If you signed your review, simply go to your review and click on the book title, which links to the book's profile page on Kindred Readers. Use the BUY NOW* link to directly access the book's profile page on the vendor's website. You may use any account you have on that site to post your review. Please be certain to post your review unaltered save for the "free copy for review purposes" disclosure.
If you submitted your review anonymously (i.e., using your ReviewerID): go to your review and click on the book title, which links to the book's profile page on Kindred Readers. Use the BUY NOW* link to directly access the book's profile page on the vendor's website.
The examples below describe how to create a unique pen name for your Kindred Readers reviews or submit your review anonymously on various sites. You are free to use an existing account to cross-post your Kindred Readers reviews, but please take the utmost care to protect your identity. We recommend in all cases that you set your account settings on the vendor website to maximum privacy (i.e., don't share email address, Twitter handles, etc).
Please note that each vendor has their own requirements for submitting reviews, and those requirements may change at any time. The best way to protect your anonymity when cross-posting a Kindred Readers review is to create a new userID, display name or pen name to use on vendor sites.
Amazon: You need to have an account and to have made at least one purchase to post a review on Amazon. Assuming you meet those conditions, here's how to proceed:
Find the book by clicking on the Amazon "Buy Now" link on our site, then click on WRITE A CUSTOMER REVIEW. In the upper right hand corner of the page you'll see Your Public Name is (userid). Click on CHANGE and create a unique pen name.
Barnes & Noble (B&N): At this time, you do not need an account to post an anonymous review on Barnes & Noble (that is, they permit the public to post reviews anonymously on the site). However, if you have an account or are willing to create one, we request you submit your reviews on their site using a pen name. Reviews that are linked to an account are far less likely to be deleted in a site-wide purge.
Here's how to submit a review at B&N:
Find the book by clicking on the B&N "Buy Now" link on our site, then scroll down to Customer Reviews. Under the review window there's an option to create a pen name (you must have an account to do this) or post the review anonymously.
The safest choice is to create a unique pen name. If you do not have a Barnes & Noble account and do not wish to create one, you may post the review anonymously.
Kobo: You need to have an account to post a review on Kobo. Find the book by clicking on the Kobo "Buy Now" link on our site, then click on "Write a Review." In the review window enter a unique Display Name.
*Throughout, we suggest you find the book on the vendor site by clicking on the "Buy Now" link on our site. We suggest this as a shortcut, because the link takes you to the book's profile on the vendor site. Clicking the "Buy Now" link does NOT make you purchase the book.
Why should I cross post my review anonymously?
If you signed your review on Kindred Readers, it's your choice whether to cross-post it signed or anonymously.
If you posted it anonymously on Kindred Readers, we strongly recommend you create a unique userID on other sites. If you crosspost to another site with a username that can be traced back to you, you risk revealing your reviewer identity on Kindred Readers not only for THAT review but for every anonymous review you've ever written on Kindred Readers. And it's not inconceivable that other Kindred Readers members might be be affected.
Here's an example. Say your name is John Smith and your Kindred Reviewers ReviewerID is KR001012. You post a review of The Rooster Crows at Midnight on Kindred Readers as KR001012 and cross-post on Amazon under the username JSmith. The author of The Rooster Crows at Midnight might recognize that the review posted on Amazon by JSmith matches the review posted on Kindred Readers by reviewer KR001012. That author may then jump to the conclusion that reviewer JSmith is the author Jane Smith who has a book in Kindred Readers' book directory. This may or may not be true — there are lots of J. Smiths in the world, and more than one may be a member of Kindred Readers.
What if my review was not positive?
For each member it is a personal choice whether to cross-post their reviews. Some members make it a policy to cross-post every review, regardless of the rating; others make that decision on a case-by-case basis.