Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Reviews ... Your Thing or Not?



dare say that many person who write, came to it though reading. As far back as I can remember, books have been a part of my existence. My mother fed this part of my life by keeping me supplied with age-appropriate material.  At school, I was a regular visitor to the library and after that came the shared material from friends who also liked to read. This is where my reading material got interesting, with romance novels being added to my list of favourites. 

Until a few years ago, the only way I shared information about good stories was by word of mouth, which limited me to the people in my immediate circle. Being published widened this circle tremendously. Among the blogs I opened was one for book reviews. My intention with that was to share my thoughts about the books I’d read. Soon, I was flooded with requests for book reviews. Only then, did I begin to understand the importance of reviews to authors. 

I’ve found that readers rush to review books by super-popular writers but won’t necessarily write reviews for unknowns. I’ve also realized that misery loves company and some readers will leave negative, but nonconstructive reviews that cannon help the writer to figure out where they went off-track.

On my part, I try to review most of the books I read.  As a reader, I understand how reviews may influence other readers’ purchasing decision. As a writer, I know they help get the word out on a good story. When I don’t leave a review it is usually because I don’t have time or can’t find many positives about the story and/or the way it is written. 

One interesting thing I’ve discovered in that some readers are intimidated at the thought of writing a review. It’s not a test, so the important factors are to state what you liked about the story, what worked for you and what didn’t, and how these things made you feel – and your assessment doesn’t have to be more than a few sentences long. What a review shouldn’t be is a reader rehashing the story or attacking the writer.

Do you get the sweats at the thought of writing a review? How often do you write them? What prevents you from leaving a book review?
  


This week Wednesday will be post day for the IWSG. The purpose of the group is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Sign up on the linky and remember to post this Wednesday!

42 comments:

MELODY JACOBS said...

nice post dear
NEW BLOG POST : http://melodyjacob1.blogspot.com/ .
THANK YOU

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

One's perception changes when we shift from reader to author.
I try to rate the books on Goodreads at the very least and write a short review when I can. It's intimidating, because now that I know how much effort goes into a book, I don't like to say anything bad.

J.L. Campbell said...

I know what you mean, Alex. I don't like saying negative things simply because I know how much work goes into writing it. I follow the old adage. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything.

Michelle Stanley said...

I write a lot of reviews on books from unknown authors and am often impressed with the content I've read. One thing that puzzles me when reading other reviews is why a reviewer would say that the book is good, yet leave a 1 star rating. That irks me.

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for dropping in, Melody.

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Michelle, that's something I wonder about too. I think it may be one of two things - either the person doesn't realize what they're doing or they do it deliberately. Lately, I've been reading a lot of indie books that have impressed me.

Karen Elizabeth Brown said...

I'm always amazed with those that have time to read a lot of books and review them. I am one who sweats a lot when I have to give a review, but as you said, I remember how much work went into the book so I don't want to be negative with what I write. First impressions are always reliable.

Peaches D. Ledwidge said...

Reviewing books is fun. I just don't do it often, but I'm trying to do more.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I review every book I read on my Goodreads account. Not on Amazon since I'm a writer, editor and publisher so Amazon would see my reviews as self-serving and delete them. I don't take much time with reviews, just pretty much blurt out my feelings and thoughts about the book, usually trying to focus on what I liked about it. I rarely give a one star review but I did recently to a book released by one of the Big 6, by a supposedly top author. I couldn't believe how awful this book was-- full of telling and flashbacks and shallow characters. I've read many self-pubbed books that were way better than this.

Connie Arnold said...

I enjoy writing reviews, and I really appreciate when others write reviews of my books!

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Karen,
I confess I only write reviews for the books I really like. I'm lucky that way because I usually download samples so I have a good idea of whether or not I'll like the book before I buy. Don't sweat over those reviews. Just pretend you're talking to the author telling them all the stuff you liked and what didn't float your boat.

J.L. Campbell said...

Hey, Peaches, I got so bogged down with the format I created that it was no longer fun. I threw it out the window and just get on with it these days. Much faster that way.

J.L. Campbell said...

I can relate to that, Connie, but half the time people don't bother to write them.

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Karen,
Amazon continues to muck about with some of those ratings, which annoys the heck out of the people who lose their reviews. In my book, your approach is a good one. Say what was good about the story. These days, I'm reading much more indie pubbed books than traditionally published works.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I used to review more books. (For that matter, I used to read a lot more books.) But I hit a few in a row that were three stars and it just didn't feel right, even though they were big name authors and not someone I knew. I did recently review Karen Gowen's book on Amazon though.

Christine Rains said...

I have made it a point to review every book I read except the ones I don't finish. Reviews really are so important, and I'd love to know how to get readers to write more of them.

Pat Hatt said...

I have done it, not much recently and not scared to do it. But there are a lot of negative nelly's out there who will only review when they ave something to whine about.

Patricia Lynne said...

I write short reviews. I'm not the best at it. I tend to gush and be a fangirl.

Denise Covey said...

As I'm doing the goodreads 2015 challenge aiming for 120+ books I am leaving a few lines at goodreads on each finished book. Luckily, I've enjoyed them all. I'd be happy to review more bloggers' books if requested.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I do write reviews though not for every book I read. I'm less likely to write one for a book that already has 100's. As a writer, I know how important they are for 'unknown' authors and always try to remember to do so.

Patrick Stahl said...

I do in-depth reviews of about half of the novels I read and a decent amount of the short fiction I read. Occasionally I'll do a tweet praising a story too or some other form of short review.

dolorah said...

I do review most books I read. If I read something by a famous author I don't leave a review; the author doesn't need my 2cents if it is good, and have received enough negative feedback from qualified critics if it is bad. But for my friends I know how important the honest review is. I won't review if I really hated the book. I have forgotten to leave reviews before. I do get the sweats because I want to make the review worthy of the author's time and effort, and to garner sales.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi JL - interesting - I've taken out a few books to review .. and really should jot down my thoughts as I go and as I finish a book ... it would make it much easier. I'l like to get a tab on my blog for books etc ... so better knuckle under soon! Cheers Hilary

T. Drecker said...

When I started a book review blog, I wasn't sure it was a good thing to do, but I've never regretted the decision (except that there are too many requests, and one can't do all). Not only IS it very important to authors, but as a writer, I benefit too. I see things now which I could do better in my own writing and things that I need to steer clear of. Plus, it's great to simply help unknown authors out.

LuAnn Braley said...

In January 2014, my blog changed focus from 'misc' to 'books'. Most of my posts are book reviews, and to a lesser degree author interviews, guest posts and blasts/giveaways. I hadn't read for myself (and/or for pleasure) for a number of years and I wanted to share the delight of my discoveries!

But I'm not the type of person who gets off of putting other folks down to bolster my ego, or to make me look more intelligent. I have yet to come across a book that was so egregiously heinous (look at me with those big words! :p) that I could not finish it. Just because a book is not my cup of tea doesn't mean that others won't enjoy it and review is my subjective opinion about the work, and not a rating of its intrinsic merit.

I hope this comment make sense. With illness, accidents and misbehaving doggies it's been a rough couple of days.

Tyrean Martinson said...

I review a few at a time, but I never make promises to review a book. I don't review if I can't give an honest and good review.

Nadine_Feldman said...

I review books I enjoy, though I haven't posted a book review on my blog for a while (I plan to get back to that in May). The problem came when authors started to solicit me to do reviews...and I didn't like their work. I had to make a policy to not accept books for review.

As an author, I find nothing more painful than reading a review from someone who obviously didn't read the book. I don't mind constructive criticism or a difference of opinion, but when someone says something that flat out isn't true, I get upset.

I would also add that sometimes I make a purchase based on a bad review, because the reviewer expressed an opinion I disagreed with. So, authors take heart: sometimes the bad review works in your favor.

northofandover said...

What prevents me from leaving a book review is that I'm a writer (sometimes), and so is my brother. If I say ANYTHING in the slightest bit negative about a book I've read (for example: 'The characters are fun and relatable, and I LOVED the worldbuilding, but the plot often didn't make sense to me.'), I'm inviting revenge 'reviews' on everything either of us ever writes -- not necessarily from the author of that book, but from its fans. It isn't worth the risk.

Sher A. Hart said...

I started reviewing books because agents and editors at writers' conferences said we need blogs, and reading is my first love anyway. Once I joined Goodreads and listed a small fraction of the books I'd read before that point, I started asking for books to review. Boom! Like an explosion, I got more requests than I could handle. All those years in critique groups paid off in writing helpful reviews, I hope. Now I have a review queue on my blog, and that's where I send my reviewers for the next book on the list. It's just kid lit, but I think it makes a difference for those authors.

speculationsimpressed said...

I've written a few reviews but it's been at the request of the authors. I don't feel that I'm qualified to write reviews just because I've read the story. I'll probably feel different about this once I have a published book.

G. B. Miller said...

I'm a bit sporadic with my book reviews (and the occasional c.d. review), but when I do write one, I try to write it from a perspective of someone who is reading the author/genre for the first time. In the case of literary fiction/non-fiction, I write from the perspective of someone who is constantly looking for that book that chip away at my highly negative outlook on the literary genre.

One thing I will not do is leave a review that chops someone down to size. I went through enough of those in my life to where I would not want to inflict that kind of pain on anyone. So if I don't particularly like a book, I will leave a short 3 star review complimenting the writer on the tightness of his/her writing and possibly the pacing of the plot.

rolandclarke.com said...

I struggle to write reviews even if I like a book. I aim to write something constructive, so get concerned that the review has to be right. Probably spend more time on a review as my own writing, which is crazy for an ex-journalist that used to churn out two dozen articles a week.

So apologies if anyone out there is waiting for a review, knowing that I read your book and even rated it. It's in the trickling pipeline.

Never sure about the 1* * 2* reviews - sometimes I wonder why the reviewer even bought the book, but then why bother to read the blurb, when it's easier to spend, spend, spend. Even saw one that gave up after the first page - a page that was available as an easy to read preview, before parting with the money.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I don't mind writing reviews, but I'm critical, so I hesitate with people I know. I also understand that's bad. Lately, though, I've been reading famous writers because it enables me to study technic while I'm entertaining myself. Reading is my outlet. I have a list of books by bloggers I know, and I hope to get to them very soon. Great post, Joy.

Michelle Wallace said...

I love writing reviews.
And I now realise how important they are for writers...
Because I'm reading lots of different genres, and ones I've never read before, I try to keep an open mind.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Since I know how important reviews are to authors, I write quite a few. However, I will never write a bad review. I'd rather not write one at all if I didn't like a book. Only once when someone asked me to review her book, I declined after reading the beginning and thumbed through it. Because her book needed so much work, spelling, grammar, silly errors, my review wouldn't give the author credit. Then I emailed her and talked about editing. I know the effort and work that goes into our novels, and all author's benefit from some nice reviews!!!

Charity Bradford said...

I don't think people realize how important reviews are until they've published a book and put it out there. Now I write more reviews because I get it. My only rule with reviews is to be honest. That means if I can't give it at least 3 stars and say nice things, I don't review. Even in those I follow your list--say what I liked, what I didn't and how it all made me feel. It's easy! Now to convince the rest of the world...mwhahahahaha!

Lisa said...

I like to write reviews about books I've enjoyed reading. I prefer not to write reviews about books I didn't like, for whatever the reason. Which, honestly, isn't probably very good practice in the long run as that doesn't give other readers balanced reviews. So perhaps I should change that policy, but I'll have to think on that, on how I would put that in to practice without being negative. I've had reviews that were unnecessarily negative but most of those were just folks who liked to read their own words and opinions. I would personally prefer to read/write reviews which honestly state a reaction to a book so that I can get a feel for what that book is about. Which is what reviews are all about, right? I wish I could write a review about something that didn't sit right with me (or typos or whatever) and send it to the author before it went public, so they can decide if they want it published or not. That way if the review mentions, say, the way a story was written, the author could perhaps learn from that persons opinion before having it shown to the world. Reviews are turning into a major marketing tool and should be, I think honest, but not ever belittling. Anyone who has taken the time to write an entire book is entitled to have at least that effort acknowledged. My two cents!

Chrys Fey said...

I like to write reviews, especially for unknown, small authors. When it comes to well-known ones, I usually don't. They have hundreds of reviews, so mine isn't going to make a difference. But it will for indie and self-published authors. I write reviews for every book I read. I always highlight what I liked and briefly mention what I didn't, but I don't dwell on it. I've never had to give a two star to any of these lesser-known authors...but I have for a couple of well-known ones.

VR Barkowski said...

I no longer write reviews on Amazon because their review structure is nothing more than a corrupt marketing platform. I do enjoy writing reviews on Goodreads when I have something to say about a book that hasn't already been said a hundred times.

Unfortunately, reviews aren't really reviews anymore. They're promotion.

Because I don't believe in reviewing only what I like, I restrict my reviews to established authors. That way I can be honest without impacting their livelihood. I think this is the opposite approach of most of the respondents here, but I believe reviewers have an ethical responsibility to say when they don't like a book. To put it bluntly, if everyone reviewed only the books they liked, there would be no point to reviewing. Just give everyone five stars and be done with it.

VR Barkowski

krystal jane said...

I don't review books very often, but when I do, I'm honest. If I hated something, I'll say why so people will know the specifics and know if it's just personal preference or not. Reviews are for readers. They're not for writers. It impacts us, sure, but our job is to write a great book. If we want feedback, that is what beta readers are for. By the time it's published it's too late. And really, even a bad review can sell a book. I personally will pick up a book like that just to see why everyone hates it so much. I hate picking up a book by a lesser known author and hating it, only to find most of the reviews glowing because no one wanted to say anything negative.

J.L. Campbell said...

I know, Diane. I tend to leave higher numbers in terms of stars, but that's usually because I tend to pick books I know I'll enjoy. If the same doesn't work for me, I won't buy the full book.

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks so much for weighing in on this subject, you've all provided good food for thought.