Just like there is a new world of publishing books, there is a whole new world of reviewing them. While the old way wasn’t always kind, you could be fairly certain the reviews were objective. But with the advent of the Internet, getting a good book review has become a crapshoot.
In the past, publishers and/or authors would send Advanced Reading Copies to the reviewers. These might be anywhere from magazines, newspapers, to television. They would also be sent to book clubs for pre-sales. Some reviewers had their own columns or shows while other reviews were done by readers who were supervised by “book editors” for the publication, not to be confused with the book editors who actually purchased the manuscripts.
Nowadays, ANYONE can be a reviewer and, trust me, a lot of people think they are. Wrong! Oh, so wrong!
Part of the problem is the anonymity of the Internet. It ain’t hard to be cruel when no one knows who you are. And some people must think the job of the reviewer is to be as nasty as they can. My advice? Get back on your meds. Others see it as their job to use the review as a soapbox; they give low ranks because the price of the book is too high (hurting the author instead of the publisher who sets the price) or to rave against the book because the sensual romance that is clearly labeled as having sex in it. Well, duh! What did you think “sensual” meant?
Some of my other favorite “misses” when it comes to bad reviews.
1. “I didn’t read this book,but…” If you didn’t read it, you can’t review it.
2. “My (sister, son, best friend, critique partner) wrote this book and it’s wonderful! Right! Totally objective.
3. “I got cheated! This short story is short!” Again, duh!
4. Giving away too much of the plot, especially the twists.
5. Few words reviews. You know, the “I loved/hated this book!” Okay, why?
Here are some of the things I look for in a helpful review is:
1. A concise synopsis without spoilers.
2. Fairness. If good/bad, why. If there are technical issues, are they enough to hurt the story or can they be ignored because the story is so good?
3. Is your writing good enough to make me think you know what you’re talking about?
4. How many people agree with your review? I’m more likely to accept ten 3 star reviews than two 5 star reviews.
5. Write with your heart. If you’re doing it for real, you’re far more believable.
Until next time!