Friday, March 7, 2014

Reviews are hard work by Barbara Edwards

My writing friends are having a debate about book reviews. Everyone wants a good one for their book. And everyone is hunting for those reviewers. We ask friends and family and other authors to take the time to read and review our work. Many authors will feature a book on their blog and do a review. I’ve had my book, Journey of the Magi, reviewed in this way. It was a wonderful bonus. Those authors are booked for months ahead with good reason.
One of the things I found when I published my last book was that there are places to buy reviews. Yep. And they can be cheap. Five for five dollars seemed to be the going rate. Guaranteed to supply your tome with five star reviews.
I’m not talking about legitimate review sites where you can request a review, submit a copy and get a decent, honest review. Those places are being overwhelmed with submissions. I’m talking about the shady side of business.
Lots of places offer free advertising for your reviewed book. The offer is pre-supposed on the fact your book is good enough to rate a four or five star review. It’s a neat way to get your title in front of a new audience. So the underbelly of the business is exposed. Not many unknown authors can gather fifty or more good reviews before the book even goes on sale. Soo...
I no longer blithely trust those wonderful free book lists I signed up to receive.
I do look more closely at Goodreads and Amazon reviews. And I sometimes thank the commenter for taking the time to post a review.
I admire a good review. It’s a fine talent to put together a brief, clear description of the book and why you like it. My efforts in reviewing don’t please me. I struggle to explain why a story has touched my heart, but I do try especially when I’ve found a terrific story.
If you’ve read a good book, take the time to give it a review. I actually got a thanks for one I did last week and it made me smile all day.

Journey of the Magi blurb
Widow Noel Martin never breaks promises, and she promised her kids they’d have Christmas at her childhood home in Connecticut. But driving across country takes money. Noel is broke when a snowstorm blows them into a tiny Minnesota café owned by a man who can change her mind. She accepts his offer of a job. Despite her attraction to him, she makes it clear she is only temporary help.
Dan Longstreet isn’t adopting any more strays, but he needs a waitress. Dan works so hard to make his café a success, he doesn't have time for love. Though Noel’s slender blonde beauty stuns him and her two adorable children tug at his heart, he denies how they threaten to change his life.
When tragedy strikes, their new-found love is the first victim. Noel can't stay and Dan can't leave. Will their journey be the gift that reunites them? 

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Margo Hoornstra said...

Never hurts to be careful, Barbara. I read and thoroughly enjoyed Journey of the Magi. Review to follow.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Margo,
I'm glad you liked it. And appreciated a review. thanks

Jannine Gallant said...

I've never felt the need to summarize the book. To my way of thinking, that's what the blurb is there for. I usually just write two or three sentences describing what I liked about the book. Easy-peasy. Now if I just had time to read more...

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Jannine,
You have more confidence than me. I might try your method next time. Sounds sensible.

Diane Burton said...

I agree with Jannine. Either the blurb or someone else's review will have the summary. I'd rather say what was great about the book. I follow the "if you can't say anything good don't say anything at all" policy. So I never trash books.

Leah St. James said...

Good points, Barbara. If I don't like a book, I won't write anything about it. Writing is hard work, and I think it's hard for most authors to read a book simply as a reader would. Like Diane, I focus on how a book touches me in some way.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Diane,
I don't feel comfortable doing reviews so that makes me insecure in what I write. I'd love to just say five stars and leave it.

Barbara Edwards said...

when I was a contest judge, I never scored below three. I think this is a good system.

Romance Can Be Murder said...

These are really good points, and come at a time when Marrying Money has just got a 2 star review (the others are 5 stars) which burned me because it sounded as though the reviewer hadn't actually read the book... :-(
Personally, I won't give a bad review because reviews are so subjective - a book one person hates may be just perfect for someone else.
If posting on an Amazon page, I usually just say what I liked about the book. Posting somewhere else, I'll probably include a link to the book and maybe the blurb or some more in depth description.
And I'm way, way behind with books to review right now. I need a system to write reviews as soon as I've finished reading the book...

Barbara Edwards said...

If you find one, let me know. If I put off the review even one day all the things I wanted to say fly from my head.

Unknown said...

Very interesting perspective. I am not good at writing reviews. I don't even try to summarize, I'm another one who believes readers can see that on the blurb. Although, it's common for reviewers at actual review sites to summarize, which I think is nice. I also have trouble putting into words how I feel about a book, and I don't give bad reviewers either. Sounds like a pretty common practice for authors. :) I wouldn't worry about bad reviews, I actually like getting them. It makes me feel legit! And it's true, it's all subjective. I don't expect everyone to love my stuff.

(BTW, sorry I'm so late. I let a week slip by somehow.)

Barbara Edwards said...

Never too late, Alicia. Thanks for commenting