Writers and Readers...what we owe each other
We've had an interesting discussion going on between some writer pals on a private loop. The subject? Reader reviews published on blogs and Amazon that are more attacks on the writer than the book. No writer expects everyone to like their stuff-especially when you're writing something like Urban Fantasy. But attacking the author's talent, integrity or subject matter simply because you can seems less than honest. Sometimes what is said is not even an accurate recounting of the plot which makes one wonder if the reviewer read the book or formed his or her opinions based on what he thought it was about.
I want to know what you think. Writers and readers out there. How much store do you put in reviews? Do you take into consideration who is doing the review? If a review is very negative, do you take into consideration the tone of the review? Is it well thought out critique or is it a mean-spirited rant?
I've been on the receiving end of some pretty negative reviews. I've come to the point where I don't read Amazon reviews at all anymore. The good or the bad. You don't remember the good ones and you never forget the bad. The only comments I pay attention to now our those of my critique group, my beta readers and the fans who email me directly through my website. Those are the readers whose opinions I value.
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Since we seem to be on a writing kick today, here's an interesting post that might stimulate some plot ideas. COLD CASE: 20 BIGGEST UNSOLVED MURDERS from Criminal Justice University.
I mentioned a week or so ago that we've been working on updating the website. It's up now. We're still tweaking but my friend Jay Salam has done a splendid job. Take a look if you have a moment. Any comments are appreciated. And Jay reminded me to add that some bookmarked pages may no longer work due to the revamp.
Special congratulations to pal Richelle Mead whose Spirit Bound debuted #1 on the USA Today bestseller list! Way to go, my friend!
And if your looking for a recap of books recently released, check out Carolyn Crane'sblog --the thrillionth page.. she'd done a great job...
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I'll leave you with a very cool video by Parnell Hall. Every writer I know has experienced this at one time or another... before now, none of us felt like singing about it though (except maybe Mario and that's too horrible to contemplate!)
To be honest I don't read reviews. I don't really care what other people thought of a book. If it's by an author I know and love I'll read it. Then if it's a whole new author to me I look at the cover and blurb to make my chioce. I like to form my own opinion of a writer. Plus I don't like to get spoiled by reading the reviews, especially if it's something I'm really looking forward to.
I don't pay much attention to reviews on amazon, etc. But I do pay attention to mentions by friends/bloggers that I follow/respect. There's a difference between opinion and author bashing, I tend to stop following people who author bash. When I review books on the Steamed! blog, it's generally to show case steampunk books I really like. If I don't like a book, why should I waste time blogging about it?
I can't wait to pick up "Spirit Born." But I have to finish "Android Karenina" first, which, ironically, I was sent to review on the Steamed! blog, lol.
I never read the reviews, just the synopsis of books & I don't even rely on that - sometimes that's even inaccurate. But I do create a list of books to check out. Then I haul by butt to a bookstore and read the first three pages of books that have caught my attention. My theory is, if the book is well thought out & well written, three pages in you know it.
I do blog about books I love. I also recommend them to friends & to people shopping in the bookstore if they look lost.
I think your books are very well written, the story is entertaining, the characters interesting & you're on my list of 'must buy' authors. And since I read 3-5 books a week (seriously you should see my bookshelf) I think I'm an excellent judge of a good writer.
Absolutely, Suzi-- we all have favorite blogs and authors we follow. And I agree with you--if I don't like a book, I don't say anything. There are too many books that I like to bother with the ones I don't. It's a good policy. Also, even if I don't like a book, I never go after the author, even in my head. It's hard work to write a book and get it pub'd--as you well know. You gotta respect the process.
thanks for the nice comments, unseelieme. I have tried to make each book better than the one before. You learn a lot as you go--Still, I know I don't appeal to everyone. And I don't mind that. After all, I don't like every book I read, either. But as I said above in Suzi's comment, you gotta respect the process. Writing is hard work. No author deserves to be bashed.
The internet is awesome, yet at the same time, sucks. The internet provides anonymity, which allows people to be huge jerks without much consequence.
This is exactly why I don't pay much attention to things that are written on the internet unless I do my research.
I usually choose what I read by going to the bookstore or library and actually looking at the book. For example, I was in the sci-fi section and by chance, grabbed a Karen Chance novel and a Mario Acevado novel based on reading the back and skimming the first couple of pages. I'm glad I did, because I really enjoy their series.
Reading is a really personal thing, and the only way to know whether or not you are going to like a book is to read it yourself.
I have 'trusted agents' as we say in the intel world. People I've learned have the same tastes as I do and review honestly, but not meanly. I go through their blogs and add books they've listed or reviewed and put them on the WWBL (Wanton Wantin' Book List). I take that to the bookstore or send in an order to High Crimes and add to sagging shelves of Mt Git'r'Read. I don't get why people feel the need to be that way, but they make me look that much nicer. *grin*
I don't continue reading a bad book. I use my "Life is too short to read bad books" rule. If it's not holding my interest, I move on and put it in the trade pile and choose another book. I don't review the books I don't finish.
I must admit that I am a compulsive review reader. Since money is often tight, I want to make sure that I'm spending it on something that I have the potential of enjoying. Once an author falls under my good graces (for serious lack of a better phrase) I could care less what reviews say. If an author really blows me away or at least leaves me with a very favorable impression, once then the odds are that I will buy the rest of their books and their back catalog on that experience alone. Given that barely anyone I know reads the same books as I do, I find that turning to the opinions of those who cared enough to shell out money for the book as a second best bet. This is one reason I like the "verified Amazon purchase" tag that amazon.com is using now. If someone spent the money on it the odds are they actually read it.
Over time, I have learned a few things about review reading on sites like amazon.com and they are as follows. 1) Always start with the 3 star reviews. More often than not the five star and one star reviews are more of a gut reaction than an actual review. A book with steady 3 and 4 star reviews is almost always a good bet. 2) I GENERALLY stay clear of books that have a very high volume of 5 and/or 1 star reviews with little in between, and when I don't stay away I usually regret it. These tend to be fangirl/fanboy books where opinions are more likely to be shaped by fandom and the backlash to fandom (i.e. Twilight) than they are the actual material. If it is still something I want to read anyways, I'll make a mental note to search for it at the library. If I find that I like it, THEN I'll buy it. 3) I give no credence to reviews that use keywords like awesome, stunning, horrible, dismal, amazing, boring, or other default go to words. While I have read some both very well written and truly heinous books, nothing is ever so very black and white. Most people who write reviews with go to review words generally don't bother to examine why they rate something the way they did.
As usual I'm long winded, but those are my thoughts at the moment. Internet reviews are not the end all and be all, but for readers they are generally somewhat of a guide if read with a discerning eyes. I'd certainly read them before I'd read a magazine or newspaper review. I never trust those things.