Sunday, December 8, 2013

Should an author review other's work? #amazon

Recently, on a chapter loop that I belong to, our members have carried on a discussion about writing reviews. One of the ladies mentioned that she wrote a poor review on a well-known author. That kicked up opinions from some of the others.

It shocked me to hear that a few of the authors refused to write reviews at all. Not wanting to be in the position of having to be honest on a poorly written book, they’ve opted out of being put in that tenuous position. Of course that’s everyone’s prerogative and I respect their choices.

Comments from some of our colleagues:

I have found this a very interesting topic. I'm surprised to hear people say they won't review another author's work. It seems to me that it is somewhat short-sighted, in that if a published author reviews your work with good results, it is a really good marketing tool. I can understand not publishing negative reviews, the ramifications are obvious I guess. But refusing to do a positive review seems odd. I'd like to give an author a good review if it is genuine, and why not? If I enjoyed the work, and I'm published myself (which I'm not, so IMHO) it is a good way to boost the whole publishing community and thank the author for the enjoyment I received from their work. ~ Sylvia Blenkin

I'm in agreement with you. I think it's beneficial to both the author and the reader to hear an honest review. That being said, I don't agree with people who are rude or condescending in their remarks. It takes a lot for an author to put their 'baby' out there for others to see, treat that with the respect it deserves. ~Jacquie Biggar


Myself, I agree with Sylvia and Jacquie. I've always been happy to review other authors work. If they're a debut author and I've found any enjoyment in their work, I try and give them a 5-star always mentioning the fact that it's their first release so others reading the review will be a little less judgmental. If I can't give a book more than three, I refuse to write the review. Mostly the four stars will be because I don't believe the author put out their best effort as far as the formatting, editing and grammar. And if I know or care about that writer, I usually send them a personal note of encouragement to revise their work.

I never write a review based on whether the story was a masterpiece of literature....but only on whether they were able to entertain me with something I found interesting. Again, if it was really great, my review will be that much more glowing. But, if it's a nice story, with interesting characters, and lots of conflict that kept me involved, you bet it'll get a 5-star.

Between you and me - I think some people have such high expectations of what a book should be that they think everyone feels the same. (Next blog on expectations!)Certainly publishers and editors do, that's true. But the average reader just wants to be entertained with decent content fairly well written. Most of them don't know if the re-action is following the action properly or if the author is head-hopping unless it's annoyingly obvious. If the story brings out honest emotions like tears or laughter and it keeps them captivated so they can't put it down, then they'll love it, hopefully review it and most likely buy something else the author has written.

So… We’ve given our opinion. What’s yours???


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  1. I agree with you three on reviews. It's something we should do and we shouldn't expect a book to build the Taj Mahal or something really astounding. If I'm entertained, then the author did his/her job.

  2. Thanks M. It's true that the more we write the better we get - so there's always hope for a best-seller in the future :-)

  3. That's what I've been finding entering contests. It seems as if the judges are more interested in my grammar than they are about the actual storyline. I found that somewhat disheartening as that is why I enter in the first place, to find out others opinions about the story not whether I got an A in English or not.

  4. That's my feeling as well. I also think some writers who are doing that are being really hard on themselves. If they're tearing apart best selling authors and giving poor reviews I can't help wondering how that's affecting their own writing.

  5. Hi Jacquie,
    In my way of thinking, if you get a good editor, they'll fix the grammar. You are right when you say it's about the story. I've talked to so many people on this same subject - not folks involved in the industry - just readers who love good books. They equate "Good" with the characters and story. Not the punctuation or even the perfect sentence structure. I think it's just us authors who search for those flaws :-)

  6. Hi Pat,
    I've find myself editing every book I read since I started this career. At first - it was to learn. Now it just happens. It's soooo annoying!! I'd stop if I could. Maybe that's what's happening with this author also. Funny thing is - I'm much harder on the best-sellers than the Indie authors. Not fair - but there it is. I know they have a lot more support in getting their books out there compared to us. At least, it's what I experienced when I wrote for Wild Rose Press.

  7. Interesting post.

    Myself, I will not review another author's work unless I can get behind it 100%. Therefore I will not review unless I can give the work 4 or 5 stars.

    As authors we may weigh in more than an average reader. I say this only because in some of our positions we carry many followers that may carry our opinions onto others. Not to say that I am one of these authors... of course not. My following is modest but I am always aware that authors are artist and just because I do not see their vision the same as they might, does not mean that other readers will not.

  8. I write reviews for authors, but its only traditionally published authors I'll rate below 3 stars. I don't write reviews on request usually - I've been burned that way, finding myself holding a book I'd struggle to give 2 stars to. I will write reviews for indies if I read the book and enjoyed it enough to want to write a review, but generally I steer clear of negative reviews because it's the indies where one is more likely to encounter a backlash and unprofessionalism (sadly). When I write a review, I always carefully explain why I hold the opinion I hold, and they are objective issues. Others may not agree with me, and at least that way they can assess what's important to them.

    5 stars are for exceptional, perect or almost perfect works. 4 stars is for books I thoroughly enjoyed, and are well above average, but not perfect. 3 stars is it works, but could have been signficantly improved. 2 stars it doesn't even really work, and 1 star is just terrible.

  9. Eri, you feel the same as I do. It might not be right for others but I just can't give less then the 4 stars. I guess I know how much work one puts into a book even though that's not really a good excuse since the authors whose books rate 5 stars work as hard. One thing - there's been a few reviews over the years that I wish I could take back. One's that I was way too lenient with. But my reasoning is that when I wrote those reviews, I, myself, wasn't as good a writer then either and the work didn't seem all that bad....gulp!!

  10. Ciara, your rating makes such good sense. Wish I had the guts to follow through with it....and as you say, for the traditionally published I probably would. My problem is I have no time to read those books anymore. I spend most of my reading time trying to support other Indie authors and I read a lot of their books. Sadly, I don't finish them all and review only those I do. When I find one that makes me stop mentally editing, I love it and will give 5 stars for the enjoyment. And you're right about the backlash in the non-pro group. It always bites them in the behind when they behave in such a way eventually - but it's still sad...

  11. I seldom review at all, but I do tend to rate nearly everything I read. The ratings aren't usually less than 3 stars because I'm a picky reader and don't choose books that A) aren't my cup o' tea, B) have badly written blurbs, or C) have samples with loads of mistakes.

    My disbelief won't suspend if there's a lot of obvious errors/issues with the writing. It's not a matter of not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings or worrying about backlash, but the fact we all only have so much time, and I'd rather spend mine reading books I'll enjoy instead of books I won't.

  12. Hi Scath,
    You've brought up some good points I never thought about and you're right. I, also, check the sample and choose carefully what I read for entertainment purposes due to lack of time. When I read to support other authors, I gotta admit that I tend to keep my fingers crossed that I can honestly review the book....ohpleaseohplease... LOL

  13. I started my blog as a reviewer blog because I've had a life-long obsession with books/reading. When I started publishing my own work, I had a moment's concern about continuing that process, but figured I always share why I've chosen to review a book. (And I don't do stars on my blog--I've found I wobble too subjectively when asked to pin down the difference between a 3-star and 5-star work--if the construction/grammar overwhelms the story but the story was good... do I give it 2 stars? If the story bored me to tears but I finished it and it was literarily written, do I give it 2 stars? It's hard to find objective measures that capture all those nuances on a consistent basis!) Having had to request reviews for my own work, I know how daunting it is, too, to find someone who will approach the job as an overview/critique giving the good/could-be-better bits, as well as what I like to really focus on, which is the "book matchmaker" element. I write as if I were trying to hook up a particular friend with something they would enjoy. So if I know someone is into romances of a particular style, "this book is similar to x", etc. In the end, all these reviews are just another perspective for a possible reader to make a decision on whether that book might match their interests, so it's self-defeating to paint yourself into a snark corner if a particular story wasn't right for you, but might be just the ticket for someone else. :)

  14. Hi tmycann (an unusual name :-)))
    I really enjoyed your comment and to tell the truth I never thought about what it must be like to have a review blog. I can understand your concern when you started publishing yourself -it would make me hesitate also. I'm glad that you continued though because I know a lot of authors, mostly beginners, who need that feedback to help them see their work in a different way. I've been lucky with the people who’ve read my work and haven't run into a lot of negativity. But I do know that if it was sincere and helpful, I would certainly take it into consideration and do my best to figure out where I went wrong. I also think you’re very kind to give the book an appraisal that might attract others even if you weren’t that taken by it. Let’s face it – we all have different tastes. As a last thought, I want to thank you personally for the help you give us in taking your valuable time to not only read the books but write an honest review.

  15. I ran across your tweet that brought me to your excellent blog. If I think a book only gets one star or two, I won't rate it. To my way of thinking, reviews are opinions. If I absolutely hate something from the outset - there are genres I can't stand - I won't read, much less review, a specimen from that genre. If someone gives me a book to read in exchange for an honest review and I find it lacking, I will contact that person privately and say (with tact) what it is about the book that I don't like, or that sits poorly with me. Tmycann's final sentence (above) expresses it nicely. (And thanks for a tweet that led to this enjoyable discussion!)
    Diana at About Myself By Myself

  16. Hi Diana,
    I'm glad you're a kind-hearted soul and won't trash someone's work with 1 or 2 stars. And you're sensitive enough to take your honest review to the author and give them the chance to maybe revise or edit the book. I agree that everyone has a right to their opinion, of course they do. Guess it comes down to whether the bad review is done in a positive way with the thought of helping or just because....