Lynne Scott will not be writing any reviews for posting on other sites. I’m not very good at it. I wrote one earlier this week and I’m not very proud of myself now. We all make mistakes – I made one, and I’ve corrected it. Now I’d like my readers and fellow authors to learn from my mistake.
The book warranted a solid positive four-star review – great plot, great characters, well done cop-speak dialog. It had some issues in POV and style that occasionally took me out of the story, but nothing to knock it below the four stars. It was a good debut novel, and I have no doubt the author’s next one will be even better.
Even though I gave it the four star review, I somehow managed to write only one paragraph about all the great stuff while wasting several on the minor problems with the book. What I should have done was the reverse. Mention the problems, and then talk about all the good things the author did. If I had to detail the problems, it should have been done in an email to the author. The author deserved a better write up.
Why didn’t I do that? Because sometimes I’m just an idiot.
The review was up about twelve hours before my brain engaged and I removed it.
We need to have some honest conversations concerning reviews – reader versus author? Can we do that? Maybe, but it’s not going to be easy and it will take more than one post.
I wear both hats on any given day. I write almost every day, but I still love to read. When it comes to reviews, what I want as a reader shouldn’t be too awfully different than what I want as an author.
What I WANT to see in a review as a READER –
1. Honesty. Don’t inflate the review. “Good book, good read!” means more to me as a reader than a whole bunch of empty 5 star reviews. Not every book is a 5. I enjoy the 4s just as much in most cases because I’m not looking to be wowed only to be disappointed.
2. Brevity. Just tell me what you liked and move on. I don’t need a 3 paragraph recap of the damn story. I want to read the story for myself. A couple short paragraphs is about the limit of my “give a crap” when I’m shopping so just say what you have to say.
3. A recommendation/non-recommendation for this and the next book. “I can’t wait for the next book” or “I’ll spend money on this author again” are things that say this is worth my money.
What I WANT to see in a review as an AUTHOR –
1. Honesty – Yeah right. As long as it’s the good kind. Otherwise I’d like you to practice what your mommy taught you, “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing.” Or at least not publicly. (I should have listened to my own rules earlier this week.)
2. An indication of what worked. – It doesn’t have to be a big deal. If you liked the humor or the banter, just say it worked; you don’t have to provide an example.
What I DON’T WANT to see in a review as a READER –
1. Claimed relationship Wife/Bestie reviews – “Buy my husband’s/sister’s/friend’s book. He worked hard.” This is an automatic killer for me. I don’t mind if you know the author, but write like you don’t and include something useful about the book not your relationship.
2. Spoilers without warning. Telling us who the killer is, how the book ended, or discussing plot twists without warning proves the writer of the review is a complete and total ASSHAT. I have been known to reply to those reviews and tell them they are an idiot (foul language can get you banned. Yes, it’s hard for me to express myself properly without expletives but I have to make do.). I generally follow that up with a note to Amazon.
What I DON’T WANT to see in a review as an AUTHOR –
1. Personal criticism – Attack the work, not the author. The difference: “This is s***!” is about the book. “Joe Blow is s***!” is about the author. Don’t do that. It’s rude.
2. A headline that turns off the review – I saw one recently in which the reviewer gave the author four stars, but the title was “MEH… “ Do you need to read more? I did because I was curious how MEH equaled four stars. It still wasn’t clear from the review.
3. All the same things that I don’t want to see as a reader.
One of my favorite reviews seen on another author’s book on a long gone website was, “Suspense and quirkiness. Solid read. I’ll buy again.” I bought the book based on the 4 out of 5 star review. Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the book or the author anymore. I’m sure it’ll come to me about 0330 tomorrow morning.
So, how am I going to let you know that I liked a book by someone else? I’ll put them in my blog and I’ll send a note to the author that I did so. Nothing big, nothing fancy. No more than “A good book, a solid read.” Just the book description and the cover, and maybe something about the author and where you can find the book.
If it appears on my blog, I read it, I liked it, and I would have given it a 4 star or better review. I won’t post a book with a link that I haven’t read and wouldn’t spend my money on.
In my next post, I’ll talk more about the idea of author’s trading reviews and the even uglier practice of author’s using secondary accounts and names to review themselves.