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ysabetwordsmith in crowdfunding

How to Review a Crowdfunded Project

Reviews are a prime route for connecting creative material with new viewers.  However, very few review markets are willing to review crowdfunded projects.  So, that leaves it up to the crowdfunding community itself.  Anyone can write a review; it's not that difficult.  This community encourages reviews.  Some websites specializing in a specific type of material, such as weblit or webcomics, may also allow member reviews.  For instance, Web Fiction Guide and Web Comics Nation have reviews.  Reviewing is a good non-cash way to support your favorite projects.  Here are a few tips ...

1) Give each review copy careful attention.  If it’s literature, read it through; if it's art, examine it closely; if it’s an album, listen to it; if it’s some other kind of product, playtest it accordingly.  Some projects are complete in one piece, while others are serial or periodical.  For the latter, it helps to observe at least 2-3 installments before drawing conclusions.  Conversely, reviews can help a new project get off the ground quickly; some websites let you post a review and edit it later, which can be useful in this case.

2) Determine the content of the project.  This is where you'll describe its format, genre, crowdfunding model, and the general idea behind it.  Give a brief summary of what it's all about.  It helps to put the main details in the first paragraph, then take another paragraph or two to expand on important or complicated points if necessary.

3) Decide out how well (or poorly) the project does what it’s supposed to do.  Explain that to your readers. How much did you learn from this product? Did it grab and hold your attention?  Does the interior match the cover blurbs and table of contents? Do instructions and illustrations make sense? What were your most and least favorite parts? For nonfiction, was it accurate and informative; for fiction, was it plausible and entertaining?  For art, was it eye-catching and appealing?  For webcomics and other serials, did it tell a good story?  For divination, did it answer questions and make sense? How fun is the audience interaction? Is the creator authoritative, or bossy, or timid? What makes this project/creator worth following?  This part can run one or more paragraphs, depending on how long you want the review to be.

4) Flesh out the review.  Look back over what you've written to make sure the main points are well covered and flow smoothly.  Then you can add more personal observations.  What did this project mean to you?  How does it appeal to your tastes in crowdfunding?  Who else is involved with it, in case folks are following each other's project interests?  Are there improvements you'd like to see in the future?  Compare and contrast this with other projects you support.  Be honest and thorough.  Don't distort your feelings about a project.  Make sure that you are providing solid evidence, such as quotes or descriptions, for both the positive and negative things you say.  You're entitled to your opinion about a project, but a fair review always cites the basis for said opinion.

5) Consider the balance of the review material.  Some readers prefer highly objective reviews that mostly tell about the project, with little or no personal observations.  Other readers are satisfied with a thumbnail description of the project, but feel that a review should really be about the reviewer's subjective opinion.  Decide whether you want the objective or subjective part to dominate, or balance the two, when writing reviews in general or this particular review.  You may need to adjust the length of one or the other sections accordingly.

6) Polish the draft before posting the review.  Check your spelling and grammar carefully.  Make sure all links work and names are correct.  If you're submitting to a site that has its own review guidelines, rather than an open community like this one, check to see that your review matches those guidelines.  Use a first-reader if you wish.  Finally, make the post.

7) Send a copy of your review to the creator(s) of the project.  Sending a tearsheet used to be standard practice and has fallen by the wayside.  Always do this.  You will be amazed how many friends and business contacts it can make for you -- even if the review is negative.  Include the complete text of the review, where it appeared, your name and contact info, etc.  Also specify how the creator is allowed to use the review; a good sample line is, "You may share this review with anyone else involved in the project, or quote from it for promotional purposes."  Some reviewers allow the creator to reprint the whole review, so stipulate that if you do; and let them know if there is a time delay, because some markets want exclusive rights to a review for a short period.  For this you might say something like, "This review may be reprinted in full after completing its first run on Rippin' Reviews as of (date)."

Further Reading
"How to Write an Art Review"
"How to Write a Book Review"
"How to Write Comic Book Reviews"
"How to Write an Excellent Music Review"
"How to Write Great Reviews"
"How to Write a Movie Review"
"How to Write a Product Review"

For creators: Do you offer perks for people who review your project(s)?  Do you collect reviews and link to them on your project page? 

For patrons and fans: What do you find most useful in a review?  What turns you off?  How much do you rely on reviews to find new projects?  Where do you read reviews?

For reviewers: What kind(s) of project do you like to review?  Where do you post reviews?  Do you write reviews for free, for pay, or both?  Are you open to new review copies currently?


You're welcome!

Glad I could help. I'm hoping this will encourage more folks here to review their favorite crowdfunded projects.