5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How to Avoid Bad Book Reviews

Indie Author Michael Davidson discusses 'Doing What You Can to Avoid Bad Book Reviews'

How to Avoid Bad Book Reviews

After self-publishing my first novel I was forced to think outside the box. Getting my words noticed was understandably difficult. No one cared about my first novel. Why should anyone spend ~6 hours reading it?

Clearly, gathering a collection of reviews would help. I contacted book bloggers who were partial to literary fiction. I found some, but, in general, they were hard to come by.

At this rate it would take forever to get a conversation about my book going.

To expedite things, I tried thinking more outside the box. Book bloggers were really the norm; every self-published writer contacted them, beseeching a review. To have a shot at getting ahead of the curve I needed to dig more, find an untapped mine.

So . . .

I joined a reading group on Goodreads after learning about it on another site. It was an active group. I figured it would be a good place to meet new readers and share my thoughts on a few of the books I was reading.

One of the discussion threads welcomed and supported new authors. Basically, the moderators of this group promoted any authors willing to mail a copy of their book to interested members.

I volunteered a few copies of my book, and one member chimed in, asked for a copy to be mailed to him, so I handpressed my 162-page non-linear memoir concerning a young couple moving to Austin, Texas and I wrote him a personal Thank You note on official Tiny TOE Press [Michael Davidson's Imprint] stationery.

Sent the package Media Mail.

A few days later I got my first 1-star rating/review on Amazon, and it was from the member of Goodreads who requested my book. He liked nothing about it. He couldn't even finish it.

After reaching the bottom of his review, I went back to the top, where it screamed:

**Review Copy Provided by Author**

This was what killed me. I supplied him with my book. It was my choice whether or not to mail it to him. He wasn’t forcing me. Knowing this, why didn’t I bother doing some research beforehand, inform myself, at least look at his profile on Goodreads to get a better idea of his behavior when it came to selecting books? In the past I had only sent my book to reviewers who enjoyed literary fiction, some even read the same books as me. If I had done my due diligence this time around maybe I would’ve known in my gut he wouldn't like my book out of principle.

Yes, I know, this is hard for some author’s to accept (me included) but it’s possible someone might not fundamentally like your book. You can’t win ‘em all. It follows that the last thing I wanted to do was give my book to a reviewer who doesn’t read literary fiction. At all.

There it was again, blinking neon:

**Review Copy Provided by Author**

In the true fashion of an amateur, I decided to stalk him after the damage.

Immediately I could see he preferred romance books. On Goodreads he was also a member of the Kindle Smut reading group. The majority of his books had sexually suggestive covers, which was why he figured he’d like my book, because it’s cover is 'sexually suggestive', although not in an obvious or overt way, like the covers of the other books in his ‘to-read’, ‘currently-reading’, and ‘read’ lists.

Look, I don’t blame him for wanting to read my book, for thinking he might even like it. I blame myself for not taking the time to first learn his reader preferences.

Had I done this I would’ve known the best thing to do before going to the post office and shelling out cash for Media Mail was to thank him for wanting to read my book and then explain to him that he probably wouldn’t like it, or at least make it clear to him that my book is not a romance in the traditional sense (nor is it erotica) but if he still wants to read/review it, ok, that’s fine, I’ll mail it to him, only beware.

A simple precaution.

Tools like Goodreads allows authors to reach out to readers in a variety of ways. But just because these tools make it easier to think outside the box and do crazy creative marketing, doesn’t mean you should be irresponsible and get trigger happy.

I can assure you that I, for one, am not going to actively seek a review from someone who, according to their online profile(s) and Goodreads reading lists, doesn’t want anything to do with literary fiction. It’s simple. It seems too obvious to write about, but if you’re looking for book reviewers, be fair to your book, give it a fighting chance, and do your homework first.

- Michael Davidson -

About the Author

Michael Davidson on Indie Author News
Michael Davidson (herocious) was born in Miami to a Colombian woman and an Anglo man. 

He has ‘pieces’ of himself scattered across the internet and his nail clippings float in multiples oceans. He edits TheOpenEnd and blogs at MySwag.

Like Don DeLillo, he believes each word triggers an electrical impulse inside our brains. When a perfect string of tiny explosions goes off, both readers and writers experience the deepest kind of pleasure. Tiny TOE Press published his first novel, Austin Nights.


Anonymous said...

Great article. Confirms some of my suspicions just as I am to release my first book. Thanks for the information.

herocious said...

Thanks for reading Stephen. Best of luck on your first book!

Carolyn said...

Hi Stephen, this is a great article and great advice for someone seeking book reviews. I am an author but of children's books, general poetry and fantasy short stories that could be considered for Y/A audience. I have had two virtual tours with Pump Up Your Books. They are a great company to work with, they match your book with blogs and reviewers who are specific to your genre. They do have a fee for their service, but me with my busted budget was able to afford it and was greatly rewarded with the feedback, exposure and reviews. If you are still interested in getting your book out there, try a virtual book tour- I really recommend it. I am on Goodreads too and am sorry that you had such an experience. Glad you took it as a lesson to be learned and moved forward- good for you for doing that!! Best of luck with your work!

ML Kennedy said...

I'm still waiting for a really negative review of my book.

Then again, I'm still waiting for about 5 different people to say anything after I sent them review copies. . .

herocious said...

I appreciate the kind words Carolyn. I should mention that not all of my experiences on Goodreads have been rough, just the ones I haven't done my due diligence on. I'll check out Pump Up Your Books. Thanks!

herocious said...

If you ask me, Kennedy, I don't think your book (The Mosquito Song) will get any really negative reviews. Nope. I've read it and it's just too much of a romp. There's no other book like it out there.

As for waiting, yes, the wait can be long.

Rolando Garcia said...

The best source of quick good reviews for an author is those people that are familiar with his/her work. The best thing is to do a "soft launch" of your book and solicit these reviews. Once you have several of them you can go to full promotion mode and contact reviewers you don't know, which are more of a wildcard.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious. What would you have done if 1) the guy requested the book (as he did), but 2) you then went to his profiles and found out he was nowhere near your target reader?
Emailed him back and said 'No, thanks!' or asked him if he was aware the book was not what he said he liked, or simply not have mailed it to him?
Similarly - what will you do in the future?
I agree that the information available to you is useful, but I wonder whether, having requested it and NOT received it, this very negative reviewer might not have left a review based on you never sending him the book he requested. Less likely, but still a possibility.
I have read, since I started going digital (and while getting ready for publishing ebooks when mine are ready), a number of books which I was fooled into thinking (even after the samples!) were both well-written and in an area not so far from my usual favorites - only to find that I did the laptop-based equivalent of throwing the book across the room.
Several were free, as your ARC was, and several I paid for (less than $10), but in each case all I did was to decide they were not my cup of tea, to be more careful in the future, and not to allow minor red flags in samples to go by, and to wish the author well.
I also decided that, if those novels were representative, I wouldn't explore those categories of reading material again - obviously they weren't to my taste.
I admired the work the authors had gone to (especially marketing), learned from it - but would never have considered reviewing the book when it seemed I was the one who had taken a chance.
The author had done his/her thing - and it didn't suit me.
No big deal - strike author/category - move on.
When I read reviews, I look for the reviewer bias.
I can see how it would be infuriating, though, when those mean-spirited reviews bring your average star-rating down.
Thanks for posting: it is so obvious once you've said it, and it was NOT something I would have thought of, even after reading all the writing and epublishing blogs I could find for the past six months. I have learned from you.
Now I will go see if I like your kind of writing and stories.

E. P. Beaumont said...

Actually, bad reviews are not necessarily bad news. When I look at Amazon reviews as a prospective buyer, I read at both extremes (5 star and 1 star) and then work toward the middle. Strong work will elicit strong reactions, and if the subject is contentious, there's often considerable polarization in the reviews. In person and on line, I've gotten negative reactions that powerfully confirmed that I was on the right track. There's a popular 30-30-40 rule that I like: if your work is any good, 30% of readers will love it, 30% will hate it, and 40% will fall in the middle.

herocious said...

Hi E.P.,

I completely agree with this. Tao Lin is a great example of the 30-30-40 rule. So is Noah Cicero. Among others. Even though I've never heard it phrased in precise percentages, my gut immediately agrees with you. Polarization is great. I love hearing back from as many readers as care to give me feedback. I guess, even the ones who don't finish :)

fairyhedgehog said...

I read books, rather than write them. I've had a few requests to read and review books but if they're in a genre I don't like I refuse politely, saying, "I really can't do your book justice".

It's a pity this guy didn't research your book more before asking to review it!

Teresa Cypher said...

Oh, what a good post. I've been reading ebooks like they are going out of style, and have learned to NOT say "yes" to reviewing books in a genre I don't typically read. Or, I reserve the right to NOT write a review if it was a DNF, or lower than 3 stars, in my opinion.

To be fair, although you made a rookie mistake by not doing your homework, the reader was, perhaps, even worse. Did he approach his review with an unprofessional attitude based on sheer unhappiness at what the book turned out NOT to be?

When leaving reviews, I like to mention--if I've read a book outside of my pleasure zone, that I typically don't read that genre. I think that goes a long way explaining a given review.

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice! Every new writer should read this and learn!
I've had simalar problems w/ my own book - in giving books to people who don't like fantasy novels. Imagine my surprise then they couldn't be bothered to write a review.
Now if I can just get my readers (who do like fantasy) to give my book a review!

herocious said...

Happy to help ABE!

Obviously it's not something I would've thought of either until I learned my lesson :)

In your scenario, now that I've learned my lesson, I would probably email the reviewer and describe my book more in depth to give this person a good idea of what my book's about, how it reads, what they're getting into, etc. Based on this person's response, I'd either a) mail a copy or b) not mail a copy. I wouldn't worry about getting a negative review if they never received a copy.

Thanks for checking out my words! Feel free to let me know how you like them if you do decide to give my book a go.

herocious said...

Sound advice Rolando. I will learn how to orchestrate a 'soft launch' before the release of my next book and see how things pan out.

herocious said...

Seems very reasonable to me. But it's an assumption I've learned not to make.

herocious said...

Thanks for reading Teresa! Your review policies seem reasonable. I think mentioning you don't typically read books in such-and-such genre is good practice.

herocious said...

Thanks for the kind words KC. I appreciate it. I'm sure the reviews from fantasy readers will come. Good luck with Other Worlds & nice to meet you!

Rolando Garcia said...

E. P. Beaumont wrote: "Actually, bad reviews are not necessarily bad news."

I agree, but not at the beginning. You do not want to start your book with a few lousy reviews. For promotion of free giveaways in many blogs a rating of at least 4.0 and as many as 10 reviews is required. Sometimes you compete for advertising space with books that have 20 or more reviews.

Suzie Ivy said...

I for one feel the reviewer made the bigger mistake here. He should have looked past the cover and discovered a little more about your book. Yes, you should have done the same but it didn't cost him money and essentially he didn't care if he took away future sales of your book because he was too dumb to do his own research. Shame on him! My lowest review has been three stars but I know there is a lower one out there and will hit me hard no matter how tough I say I am. Great article!

herocious said...

Interesting Rolando. I don't think I instinctively knew this. I'm prone to thinking any review could be helpful no matter when it comes. But now I realize how it could work against you if you don't have an army of good reviews to balance it out. Do you have any recommendations on blogs that do free giveaways?

Lichen Craig said...

Great article, Michael. I have to say that GoodReads is full of wannabe "reviewers" who know very little to nothing about writing, less about genres outside romance and happy endings. It really is a website that is by its very nature set up to hurt authors, not promote their books as it pretends. You got burned. I did too btw, with my first book. My motto: stay away from GoodReads as much as you can.

Lynn Dove said...

I too had a very similar experience on Goodreads after I did book giveaways on that site. Even though my books are listed "Contemporary Christian"...I didn't hide that info. at all...people just saw the book was FREE and entered.
It was only after the 1 star review was posted that I was able to see why that reader trashed the novel: she was a Satanist.
I don't know why in the world she would even have bothered to read a book that went clearly against everything she stood for?
Oh well.

Renee Pawlish said...

Great post - I've been burned a time or two with free giveaways on Goodreads (in some groups there). I hadn't thought to read their profile before deciding to send a book or not. Thankfully I've only had one bad review. I don't care if a reader is giving an honest opinion, but it does get irritating when someone will say they don't like the genre of your book and the trash it. It begs the question "why did you choose this book to read and review"?

T.K. Marnell said...

It's generally good to make sure your book gets in the hands of the right audience, but even if you do you will never be able to avoid bad book reviews. You just can't. You will get one stars from people who say they skipped half of the chapters, and then complain about supposed plot holes. You will get two stars from people who say they loved it but hated the last page, and three from people who completely trash the book and then close by saying it was a fresh and fun read and they highly recommend it. I even had one girl make an Amazon account specifically to attack my first novel. Five months later, that one-star review is the only one she's written.

I've seen one-star reviews for the classic "Dick and Jane" children's books (you know: "See Spot. See Spot Run.") railing against misogyny and whole language reading. I saw one for Elie Wiesel's Night that said, "I thought Elie was going to go through some intense, hardcore stuff because it was the Holocaust and everything, so I was kinda depressed when he didn't." My favorite is the one-star for Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol that says, "The main character wasn't likeable at all." :p

Though it seems to be especially malicious when people you gave your work to for free go out of their way to bash it, they're more likely to do so than customers who buy it. They may feel some sense of power and superiority over the desperate writer, or they may assign no value to something they got for free, or they may be so intent on being "impartial" that they set out to find flaws. They could also just be hoarders who take in dozens of books a day and don't invest their full attention in any of them.

In any case, it isn't worth being angry over this particular individual, because one-stars will certainly pop up many times over the course of your career. You just have to learn to roll with the punches.

Michelle Gilliam said...

Thanks for sharing your story. It is honesty like this that helps others not walk into quicksand. I hope this lets readers know the true story behind your one star. Best to you.

herocious said...

Thanks Suzie. You seem pretty tough :-)

herocious said...

You're welcome PP. Thanks for reading.

Sher A. Hart said...

I'm not quite that far along, having started another editing round after very negative beta-reader responses. I'm no dummy and I sure wouldn't have thought to check a reader's preferences once they expressed interest. I doubt any new author would think of a misleading cover causing such problems. This speaks just as much to careful cover selection as reviewer selection. Forewarned is forearmed. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have found Goodreads to be a very nasty place. Even though I use the site, there are some VERY mean-spirited people there. There are also people who routinely do drive-by one-star ratings for books they have NEVER read. They often do 15 per day. GR is fully aware of this but doesn't want to engage in any form of censorship.

I've gotten a few one-star ratings there, but they are from these people who one-star EVERYONE. They NEVER say why they don't like a book. They can't; they haven't read them.

It is SOP for many people to say that the review copy was provided by the author. You have to accept that will happen.

I don't think there is ANY way to avoid bad reviews. You can avoid some reviews by hiring a professional editor and not putting slop out there. But NOBODY will ever agree on one book. EVER. And sometimes, bad reviews can help. They tell the public that people who don't know you are reading your book.

Even if you check a reader's preferences, that is no guarantee of anything. Perhaps a reader LOVES your genre and considers herself an expert. That makes some people even tougher critics.

Again, just put your best out there. And don't ever argue with bad reviews.

herocious said...

I liked reading this. Goodreads is Goodreads. I will use it moderately for as long as it's around and I run a publishing house. All Tiny TOE Press books are there. Even the new one - HEART OF SCORPIO - has a Goodreads page. Not sure if this matters to the book, but it seems like another place to get seen. Do I think visibility is a good thing? Obviously, by adding TOE books to as many places as I run across on the internet (and IRL) should say I do. Reviews in general, good or bad,do what you say: They tell the public that people who don't know you are reading your book. But to get to this plane, you have to increase visibility. As they say in college course books: Prerequisite. I have trouble saying that aloud, "prerequisite."

Q: Why does any of this matter?
A: It matters. It matters. Why can't we just leave it at that?

Well, I guess it matters because for IT to happen, something required has to have been done first. And there are some things that require so many steps to get IT to happen, like decades of prerequisites. In fact, I think economics would agree: The more steps required for you to get there, the more valuable IT is.

Rick Carufel said...

As long as the Amazon Forums are ruled by trolls there is no way to avoid bad reviews other than to not publish.

Mohan said...

Great tips! After going through the trouble of writing, editing and having a book published, an author has to “market” it. Which means, reaching out to reviewers. Some of whom may not like what they read!

Thomas Amo said...

Craig is right, I have read some AMAZING new authors and I see them on GR and it infuriates me when I see some of these reviewers who scream about how unprofessional the book is and yet they say things like, this writer should die, or should be banned from writing notes let alone books...GR's is full of a lot of HATERS who enjoy trashing books, simply because they can. I recently got a 1 star from GR, where she spent so much time trashing my book (only having read 5 chapters, doing bullet headings and practically a power point on it...making outrageous claims about how two events COULD NOT have been connected. She was so hell bent on trashing she didn't even bother to see there was a obvious clue that mentioned how the two events were related...I think a lot of hate is because they have issues, and want attention. They aren't writers, yet they act like they're professional editors. Remember 9 times out of 10, critics are critical on things they personally don't do or know how to. So why do we give them so much power over us? Craig thanks for your post! Stay away from GRs, that is advise I myself need to follow too.

Thomas Amo said...

Lynn, I know! Wow, explain that one to me? Why would a Satanist read your work unless it was only to be mean and petty. A lot of people are drawn to my horror novel by the cover. I state it is adult horror and book 1 of 3 and yet some freak out because the story isn't resolved at the end of book 1. Or the moment they find out there aren't any sparkly vampires in it, they trash it.

Julie Elizabeth Powell said...

Some great points. I don't think authors can avoid negative comments - even the best ones have them. If they're honest then we can learn from them, but if they're from 'let's say something nasty for the sake of it', all we can do is ignore. Not easy, because it's like someone sticking a knife into the heart.

I'll write whatever happens and can only hope that one day my eleven books will spark the imagination of others as well as mine.

Cheryl M-M said...

Not liking a book does not equate someone to being a mean spirited reviewer.
Any author that thinks they will only ever get super positive and 5/4 star reviews is creating a false sense of reality for themselves.
No matter what type of genre and how good the book, there will always be a reader that doesn't like it.

Anonymous said...

I also emailed a review copy to someone who asked for it, and I was surprised by the review. Then I realized the same reviewer had not liked my other story. It puzzled me why the person would have requested another book by an author they didn't care for. But, them's the breaks. I haven't yet refused a review copy.

To help combat mismatches, I put a brief synopsis or blurb in all my ebooks, right before the first chapter. Don't know if it helps the reviews, but it seems like a good practice, as ebooks don't have back covers.

Bruce said...

If we look at this in a larger context, people have opinions about everything. For example, today at home I baked zucchini bread. Some people would say "yum" and others, not so. That's fine by me because I love the bread and will bake it again. So if you cook for a living, there will be those who complain about some part of it, no matter how good it might be.

At least when you write a book, you can wake up every morning to the realization that you did something significant. Your importance or the book's importance is not based on poor reviews. If the story needs more help to make it better, then fine, but that's not the point here. Not everyone writes books, but you did.

Thanks for sharing your personal experience.

herocious said...

No problem, Bruce, and thanks for the kind words. It's easy to forget what's important.

Iola said...

What Cheryl M-M said.

It's not his fault he didn't like the book. Nor is it your fault. But not liking a book doesn't make a review 'mean-spirited', as Anon seems to suggest.

I'd also point out that a one-star review adds credibility:
- it says the reviewer reviews honestly and doesn't just give every book a glowing review
- it says your book won't appeal to everyone (what book does?). Some people will buy your book on the basis that this reviewer didn't like it.

Iola said...

Sounds like they requested it simply to give it a bad review - but those reviews happen a lot in Christian fiction, and I think most readers are clever enough to see through those reviews.

And, despite the one star, it is helpful in a way - it's a Christian novel. Satanists might find it offensive.

Unknown said...

"There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about" - Oscar Wilde

Good reviews and bad reviews ... treat them the same and just keep writing.

Why let one person stop you from what you enjoy doing?

Sure a bad review will hurt, but don't let anyone actually see that you are hurt.

F88k em and get on with it.

Anonymous said...

I am now feeling very nervous about the reviews I have asked for. I have two good ones on Amazon. I thought I should get some more. The recent story of pay for review seems to have devalued them.

Massimo Marino said...

You will never please every reader. Only some, sometimes, and because of different things you put in writing.

A review is a review is a review but doing some research about who you choose as a reviewer helps. The story of my first one-star is hilarious. A reader got interested by my synopsis and asked if she could have a copy for a review. Sure, I said, but beware, although most typos and other mistakes have been eliminated, this will be the version BEFORE the copyeditor intervention, so take that into account.

Well, she slammed the story because there were too many "gramatical errors", too many "fragmanted sentences" and "vert few" good parts. Wrong spelling all hers in her review.

So what do you do? You move on, nothing to see. Maybe she does not know what a copyeditor does and what does it means a version NOT BEEN COPYEDITED YET! LOL

Anonymous said...

Bruce: alleluia.

Some of these very negative reviewers are frustrated and envious characters because they don't have the imagination, creativity and the determination to sit down and write a novel themselves.

T. said...

Actually, it's perfectly valid for a reviewer/reader to request another book from an author even if the reviewer/reader did not like a former work of the author. Some readers (like myself), like to peruse another writer's work to see if there's something else that the author does that clicks with them or is curious as to how the author grows with the craft. I believe in giving second chances and exploring an author's work even if I may not like certain books from them. I don't think it's that puzzling (rather, I think it's puzzling that people find it puzzling - if that makes sense. :P)

Anonymous said...

Are you joking? Murakami is getting the full 1-5 range ... and he's quite good ...

Anonymous said...

> I believe in giving second chances and exploring an author's work even if I may not like certain books from them.

Right. Or I might have a good 3rd party reference that compels me to stay around for a while ...

herocious said...

Only partly joking: The Mosquito Song is pure entertainment with wit. Hard to frown at that kind of book.

But, yes, if a book is read by enough people, it will be rated on the full 1-5 range, for sure.

Being rated on the full scale is, in a way, an accomplishment.

Murakami is definitely quite good. Rumor has it he's in the running for the Nobel Prize this year. I've read Norwegian Wood and liked it a lot. I also read his book on running, which got me listening more closely to Lovin' Spoonful.

Elizabeth Collins said...

I review books frequently, but if I actively hate the book, I won't review it at all. I don't see the point in being mean (although I am always honest) or hurting another writer's career out of spite. It also seems like bad mojo...

One review venue I write for once asked me why I hadn't yet written a review for a book I was finding torturous to read. I told the site manager I couldn't deal with the book, and he agreed that instead of running a bad review, it was best not to run one at all.

I realize that 5 start Amazon ratings are usually BS, but one star is just cruel.

Unknown said...

I know this is an old post, but I just had to say thank you for writing it. I've had some recent experiences with a lot of low reviews on Goodreads. My fault really, as I thought my book fitted into a genre because of some factors, when it missed some others. You live and learn.

But reading this post, and all the comments on it, have made me feel a little better about it.

Unknown said...

If you publish a book, you know somewhere along the line there's going to be negative feed back, even when pointed out, but you will still probally read it because its about your book and you are the author, its life. I have a book out very soon A Cameraman's Tale, all my stories are fact, but I know they'll be a whole bunch of people that will be seriously pissed off by it, that was never my intention but i wrote it knowing that, I,m a big boy, with big shoulders and can run very fast and wear a tin hat, and now live in the Caymen Islands.

Steve Douglass said...

I commend you for your post, for your writing, and for your honesty. Goodreads is a great ocean in which to swim, but beware. There are sharks in those waters. If you want to have some fun, take a look at who does the lion's share of book voting on Listopia.

John Chapman said...

Seems to me the review process, whether it's at Goodreads, Amazon or elsewhere, is flawed:
• Authors write fake reviews of their own books under a different name.
• People write reviews for books by friends – often dictated by the author.
• Authors (and some major publishers) pay people to write good reviews of books.
• People who have been offended by an author in some way will write one star reviews saying a book is rubbish.
• Some authors have been known to write bad reviews of other authors they see as competition.
• Some people offer to write ‘honest’ reviews of a free printed book which then appears on ebay.

Could it be you fell foul of the last of these? Far better to offer an ebook copy for review.

Lucie said...

I'm a blogger. I'm on Goodreads. I also try to be published as an author. I have two books in Fantasy that I try to propose to French publishing houses. So, I have a good idea of both side when I post a review on a book.

I try to never be mean, when I don't like a story, as a courtesy to the amount of time, work that is need to write a book. But I try to be honest.
If I don't like the plot, the characters or something else, I will write it. Then, I will try to explain why. And even in the worst book, there is always something good to say even if it's just the cover design.

As a blogger, I also have my credibility. I will never post a good review to please someone, especially a friend or an author. I find it more difficult to write a critic for someone you know. So, I try to avoid it.
Sure now, I'm in contact with some authors I like and it's inevitable that they will be some disparity in their work.
In a serie, there is always a book that is less accomplished that the others. In Harry Potter, for me, it was the volume 5... So even if J.K Rowling's work was amazing, this volume was still rush in my opinion. So I can write it honestly and still be a fan of her work. I'm not mean or a bad reviewer because I'm expressing my opinion...It's the way you will put it. Sometimes it can even help the author...

With some bloggers I know, sometimes I have different opinion on a book. We argue. For example, I don't judge the editing. Probably because English is not my native language. Mostly, because I prefer to focus on the originality of the plot or the emotions of the characters. The intrigue can suck but if heros are strong, they can moved the reader. I based my review more about the feelings I got with a book.
As I read a lot of books at the same time, if I can't put one story down...I have my answer. This one is good.


Lucie said...

I also agree that you need to check your reviewer. But the same advice is good for the blogger.
For example, I like to try new genre. Even if I read erotica, I still like thrillers, horror and fantasy. Sure to spend a nice evening without thinking, I will opt for a romance but if an author contact me first, I will check the synopsis.

Personnaly, I avoid autobiography because who can judge someone's life? But if the synopsis draw me to the book, I will make an exeption. Even if it's not my cup of tea I like the opportunity to be surprised

As a reader, I want to challenge myself, to open my mind. This year, I've tried gay/lesbian litterature and comics. But it's not the genre who is important, is the way the author plays with the words, plays with your imagination, your feelings that is important.

I never based my opinion on a story on the number of stars. Like taste, it's subjectif. For me 3 stars is good. 4 stars is awesome. I will never put one star and rarely 5. But it's the content of my review who will tell you if the book was good or not.

And to be honest, if there are bad reviewers...the same is true for rude authors. When I receive a request and agree to review a book, I generally tell the author that I don't know when I will be available to post a review.
Even if I read a lot, even if I try to post every day...I still have a life, a job, hobbies and my own book.
But I try to be fair and post in a delay of one or two months. I also keep in touch with the authors to let them know if I have some delay...So imagine when some authors harcele you every weeks to know if you have already finished their work? And in a very bossy way to not say rude...

Personnally, if I understand the eagerness because it's your baby and you don't really want to wait, I don't really like to be pressured. It put me in a strange position...It's why I'm really cautious with the books I accept to review or you have to give me a deadline by having a tour. It's a good way to promote your work and make yourself known. Especially, if there is a book giveaway.
And not paper books. Ebooks are easier and cheaper to contact reviewer. Even if I like really books!

As writting a book is a pleasure and a lot of work, writting a review is the same. It takes me at least two hours per day because it's bilingual and because I promote it on Goodreads, Twitter, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, my circles on Google +, Book Blogs.

I really enjoying sharing my thoughts and discovering new authors. I really hope that writters will continue to trust people who like to read. Because it's the primary reason why you write all your stories...it's to be read by someone!


Unknown said...

The best favor anyone ever did for me is the insulting dismissive, scathing 1-star review I got my second day after publishing. Considering my only other review was a 3-star indifferent one, I felt like an abject failure. Then the good and great reviews started rolling out. Then I saw the 1-star guy was getting comments on his review. Angry comments from readers that loved the book and others that just hated the way he'd reviewed me. I think the 1-star helped legitimize the review process, gave credence to the four and five star reviews which vastly out numbered him, and actually helped sell books.

Claudette Alexander said...

A review is a review. You are asking for an honest opinion of your book. Not everybody gonna like your book and that is OKAY. Just because you gave it away or mailed it does not entitle you to five stars.

When specifically asking for reviews it would help to check out the genres the reviewer reads and skip the ones who does not read your genre. If possible ask the reviewer to take a look at a sample of your book and see if they would be interested in that type of book before incurring any mailing expense.

I generally look at both good and bad reviews to make my assessment, then i glance through the "Look inside feature"

Our egos do not allow us to accept one and two stars but sometimes it's good for the book movement. Some people are skeptical of books that only have five stars.

Litha Nelle said...

I always finish a book when given it for review. I also try not to judge indie authors harshly. That said, the main mistake ANY author would make by sending me their book is having it chock full of typos. I'm kind of sensitive to that sort of thing.

Unknown said...

Well...I daresay, I'm more impressed when books have some negative feedback. It shows that not everyone is going to like it. :) And that's okay.

Claudette Melanson said...

Well said Ally!

Richard Sutton said...

Back in the day, before everyone's opinion could be instantly published, Publishers relied upon "known quantity" reviewers to help market their books. They spent time getting to know exactly what they enjoyed reading, what specifics got a detailed response and exactly what and what not to send them. They chatted them up on the phone, they sent them signed copies of books they reviewed, they did lunch, golf rounds, etc. No one ever complained about the "relationships" or the fact that ARCs that were the basis of most reviews. This was considered an integral part of book marketing. Reviewers of note had serious careers and each one had an approach to any submission that every publisher understood. Today, chiefly because of the lowest common denominator value of widespread opinion, the approach to securing reviews has changed. Another factor is the increase of Indie Authors shotgunning out multiple copies of books without trying to target the recipients. Sometimes, not even keeping within the genre. The result is lots of useless chatter, taking up bandwidth and making the reader's decision-making more difficult. Bad reviews are generally from someone who was not targeted properly for the work, someone with an axe to grind for personal reasons or teen-age trolls trashing books for fun. As an author, I never expect any of my books to be loved by all. Not even a large slice of the pie. I am very conscious of exactly who is reading my review copies and while a couple of lower ratings can't be completely avoided, they give credibility to the five star reviews.

Stephanie Bird said...

Michael, I found your post on my twitter feed. I belong to this group called Insecure Writer's Support Group. I guess that speaks for itself. I have two traditionally published books coming out in 2015-16 and have been buffing up my goodreads. library thing and amazon author pages etc., I hadn't looked at them since I last published 4 years ago. Things have really changed, like the Early Reviewer Program on Library Thing. As authors there are numerous ways for us to connect, network and alas, spend money on blog tours/publicists, to get the word out about our books. It is so helpful that you have stepped forward to point out the pitfalls of the willy-nilly sending out of review copies. I did the same as a part of my last blog tours and got slapped with a review that now will haunt me forever, on the back of giving out a review copy. Thanks for raising awareness through this post. I appreciate it and will share it with my support group and blog readers.

Lorenzo Martines said...

Indeed, Michael's post is very helpful. As my memoir is almost ready to come out in print version, the Kindle book is already available on Amazon, I have to consider reaching out to get reviews. I will be careful as to whom I select.

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