By Patricia Zick @PCZick
I’ve been posting Book Review Friday for several months, although in recent weeks, I haven’t been that regular with my postings. I hope that changes as the cooler weather approaches, and I spend more time inside in quieter pursuits such as reading.
I think about reviews, both those I write and those I receive for my own books. Often, reviewers will post a review on a book they didn’t/couldn’t finish and give the book a 1- or 2-star rating. That’s unfair and mean-spirited. I received a 3-star rating the other day, but the reviewer only had good things to say about my book. When I look at the reviews of books I want to read, I usually disregard the 5-star ratings and the lowest ratings. Somewhere in the middle lies the most honest and fair of reviews.
I review books in the genres I most enjoy: historical fiction, women’s literature, environmental fiction and nonfiction, family sagas, paranormal, and sometimes, mysteries and thrillers. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at times by reading outside of my chosen genres.
I won’t review a book if I think it deserves anything below a “3” rating. I know how important reviews are to Indie Authors, and I don’t want to be the one to write a poor review. If the book is poorly executed, it will take care of itself. I don’t give a rating on my blog, but I try to give a thorough review of the book through my perspective. Reviews are entirely subjective. I do post reviews to Amazon and Goodreads and give it the required rating there.
I believe reviews should tell readers what is good or bad or what may need improvement. A review is not a rehashing of the plot. Reviews need not be long either. If an author is particularly descriptive, I might provide a short excerpt to show readers what they can expect from that writer. In my reviews, I try to give enough information so the reader can make an informed decision about reading the book. I usually make a recommendation, but I provide a reason why I’m making it. For example, I might write, “If you like a nail-biting, cliff-hanging book, you’ll be thrilled with this book.”
It is still a good idea for readers to read the sample of a book provided on Amazon. I often download samples to my Kindle before I make a purchase. And read the description of the book. You’ll be able to garner plenty of information about the book and its author since most of those descriptions, especially Indie books, are written by the author.
I started promoting other fellow writers and their work earlier this year. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made as an Indie Author. I’ve met some new friends, and I’ve read some amazing books. There’s a tremendous amount of talent out there, and I’m happy to be able to promote it as best I can.
What’s been your experience with reviews – either giving or receiving? I’m always eager to learn how others approach writing them and dealing with them.
13 responses to “Book Review ala P.C.”
This one is a keeper! I’m going to share it if you don’t mind, P.C. People have varying opinions on how to write a review. Yours makes perfect sense. My book has two 1-star Amazon ratings and several 5-stars, 4-stars and 3-stars. In my case, the 1-stars were personal vendettas against me. No problem. I understand it. I’m grateful to have the others and to know my book touched emotions that may be buried in some women.
Thanks, Marilyn. It is sad someone would write a review simply to discredit you. Thanks for reblog, too!
If I don’t like a book, I don’t finish it so I can’t write a review. For the books I do read, I almost always write a review. I keep them short and talk about what appealed to me as a reader in hopes that that helps others to decide if they’d like to read it or not. I make most of my book buying decisions after reading the sample. If I’m unsure at the end of the sample, then I look at 3 and 4 star reviews to help me decide.
I agree, Darlene. I usually know within a page or two if I’m going to like it. That’s why they say the first 50 pages are the most crucial of any book. I make my buying decisions in a similar manner.
Reblogged this on Marilyn Slagel and commented:
P.C. has written the perfect explanation about reviews that I’ve come across. I’ve reblogged this for readers and writers alike. Enjoy!
Patricia, I enjoy your guest blogs and hope you continue them. About reviewing, I also don’t review books that wouldn’t earn a “3” but I don’t use star ratings in reviews on my blog http://jeanierandr.blogspot.com. I do use them on Goodreads, however.
Jeanie – Thanks. I plan to continue them – it’s very gratifying to feature authors. Thanks for stopping by – I’ll visit your blog.
I have been the recipient of a lot of high review ratings but neither of the two 1 and 2 stars reviews finished my book. One stopped because I used strong language during times of extreme danger and stress. Frankly, I learn more as an author from the criticisms rather than the compliments, but as someone who wants to also sell the book, getting the criticisms in a public forum creates a tension. The other issue to balance out the review is a matter of taste. Someone who does not like your genre or your approach will not likely give it a good rating even though it may be exemplary for its genre. I hope any reviewer (and it certainly looks like you are one) approaches the book through the lens of one looking forward to a new experience rather than one who has preconceived notions. I liken it to a food critic. If you don’t like mushrooms, it seems unfair to criticize the restaurant for including mushrooms in its recipes. Keep up the good work. You’ll never make everyone happy.
So true. I agree that the ones with constructive criticism are the best, but those folks usually don’t leave 1 or 2 stars. Some of the ones I read on other books just seem mean spirited. I do not like the practice of reviewing a book that was never finished. I try to put the positive light on the books I review. I don’t review genres out of my comfort zone and I don’t review books that I read and just didn’t like. I guess as an author I’m aware of how much those low ratings mean so I don’t want to hurt an author. Thanks for dropping by with such a thoughtful reply.
While I’m open to reading books outside of my regular genres, I still only pick ones I think I’ll enjoy. As writing reviews has become a part of my overall reading experience, I do post reviews for (some) books I either stopped reading or skipped over parts because of unexpected content I’d rather not fill my mind with. However, I don’t post those reviews on retail sites or on my blog–only on Goodreads. In those reviews, I share my honest thoughts/experience as a reader, doing my best to be constructive, but I don’t include a star rating since, again, I didn’t read the whole book. Even then, I still point out something positive about the book and mention what kind of readers may still enjoy it, even though it turned out not to be my cup of tea. If there was an option to “Share Your Thoughts” on a book as opposed to “Write a Review,” I would choose the first option for books I didn’t finish; skipping the rating is the closest thing I’ve come up with.
Nadine, I like your philosophy. It’s fair and thoughtful. Thank you for sharing and commenting.
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Hi! I found you because you just reviewed Christoph Fischer’s new book. I’ve done an author interview with him for one of his books on my blog and reviewed two of his books. I’ve also done many other indie author interviews and reviews.
I’ve written two books. The first was a memoir which came out in 2012. The second, a novel I categorize as historical fiction, is based on the true life story of my grandmother. It’s coming out in the next couple of weeks on Amazon in both paperback and e-book format. I would love for you to do a review of “Never Turn Back” for me.
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Hi Lorna, Thank you for dropping by. Right now I’m very far behind on my reviews. I have not finished Conditions yet so the review is also unwritten, but it’s next on my list.