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Interesting thoughts about reader reviews

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Sun July 11th, 2010, 11:17 pm

I don't recall which of the two blog posts it was mentioned, but apparently the *panel* also discussed how most everyone is at Goodreads these days and how to get them to post their reviews on Amazon as well. Well duh, everyone is at Goodreads because there's so many shenanigans at Amazon.

Might be fun to have about how we give out a star rating just for fun. Looks like we're all over the place. I rate a book by its genre, i.e. I don't consider a romance a *classic* but if its well done then I can't give it a two or three star rating either. I've had some books that while I enjoyed a lot, there were flaws in writing, editing (could have lost 100 pages), etc.

A three star review is never anything to freak out about, let along plot to have a reviewer thrown off of Amazon for it.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon July 12th, 2010, 12:07 am

I know I posted this in the other thread on reviews, but it's funny enough to be worth a second post. A writer reacts to amazon reviews.

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LoveHistory
Bibliomaniac
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Contact:

Postby LoveHistory » Mon July 12th, 2010, 1:34 am

That was hilarious, MLE!

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Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Mon July 12th, 2010, 4:27 am

"Misfit" wrote:Might be fun to have about how we give out a star rating just for fun.


This could be interesting. I know I've often thought about the "system" I use to determine how many stars a book gets, and how I really can't nail it down into anything that I could easily explain or describe. One thing I do, though, is often (but not always) I'll determine how many stars to give a book based not just on its own intrinsic merits (or lack thereof), but also based on how it compares to other books I've read. i.e. is it waaaaay better than that 3-star I just read, or only a little better? Or about the same?

Does anyone else do that?

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EC2
Bibliomaniac
Location: Nottingham UK
Contact:

Postby EC2 » Mon July 12th, 2010, 10:02 am

It's ridiculous to award votes for the toil that goes into a novel. It's a day job and there are many much harder, tougher day jobs out there. It's not about the author, it's about the reader and their genuine opinion. Reviews are about that reader's experience of the novel, praise and all, or warts and all. Most people in the middle are balanced and will give genuine, fair opinions. There are the nutters at either end of the spectrum (absolute rabid love and hate) but hey, you have a joint of meat, you get flies.
My day job constrains me as a reviewer in some aspects. If I read what is in my opinion a truly terrible book set in the same period that I write in, I can't say what I think in public because it could be construed as being unprofessional or a bad case of sour grapes. So I very rarely review in my own era - although I sometimes comment offlist to trusted personal reader friends! If I love a book set in my period, then I do review it. I'm not so bothered about the star rating when reviewing books outside my sphere. I have a flexible ratings system with two points to every star. So a 1 star is a book that scores from 0-2, a 2 star 2-4, 3 star 5-6 etc. I've just finished Mudbound by Hillary Jordan and really enjoyed it. The numerical score was around 9, so it goes into the 5 star category.
Like Ash, I wish some readers would realise that the review system is not a complaint medium because the book arrived with a torn page, or was delivered late or is the wrong price. There are other channels for complaint.
I agree with Misfit on the blurbs for books. You see the same names coming up time and again, and on each other's novels. As a reader I ignore them, because as a writer I know the industry score. I now refuse to give blurbs myself unless I have bought and read the novel under my own steam and really enjoyed it. I know authors who have not liked books they've been asked to blurb, but have felt pressured by their publishers,their carreer needs, and the desire to be loved in the playground, to give glowing quotes. But readers aren't stupid. Some years ago, I remember Stephen King eventually being treated with contempt by the readers because he'd blurb for anything. I also remember Ellis Peters saying that Lindsey Davis' The Silver Pigs was the only book she had ever agreed to blurb and she did not expect to do so ever again. There's steel for you! :)
I'm rambling here and need to cut off and go and do the day job, but to add that as a reader, the only reviews I take note of on Amazon, Goodreads etc are the detailed thought-out ones, and those by people I already know in reading communities who share my tastes. The one liners, whatever their star rating, aren't much use.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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juleswatson
Avid Reader
Location: now Washington DC
Contact:

Postby juleswatson » Mon July 12th, 2010, 11:34 am

Agree with everyone here. Reviews are surely to serve readers' needs, not authors. I don't understand why authors publicly get themselves into such a state over them. Yes, they HURT. Yes, it is awful. But if you put your work out there, and especially if someone has actually paid you to put it out there - like, it is a job - then you are very lucky, and you are asking for it. You just have to suck it up. People's tastes vary so much, that if you get a low review it might be your book was crap or it just isn't that person's cup of tea, and you have to be able to accept that. People pay hard-earned money for your books. You as an author are purely there to entertain the reader in exchange. The reader does not owe YOU anything and the idea that readers should blindly support an author just because they worked hard is ridiculous. As EC said, much harder day jobs! Yes, as an author I'd love it if we all lived in fluffy bunny land and after all my blood sweat and tears I only ever got five star reviews. But as a reader, I just read a hugely hyped book and was so keen I bought hardback, and it was truly one of the worse books I have ever read, in execution, lack of basic story-telling skills, lack of suspense and characterization. I know exactly how much hard work goes into a novel - but that did not stop me as a reader from feeling ripped off and affronted that I had paid that much for such utter tripe! The reader is king, not the author. I would have thought that would be pretty obvious :rolleyes:
Author of Celtic historical fantasy
New book "THE RAVEN QUEEN" out Feb 22 2011: The story of Maeve, the famous warrior queen of Irish mythology.
Out now, "THE SWAN MAIDEN", the ancient tale of Deirdre, the Irish 'Helen of Troy'
http://www.juleswatson.com

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Mon July 12th, 2010, 1:01 pm

I know exactly how much hard work goes into a novel - but that did not stop me as a reader from feeling ripped off and affronted that I had paid that much for such utter tripe! The reader is king, not the author. I would have thought that would be pretty obvious


**applauds**

Can you pass that attitude around a bit more? Please?

I will not name names but a couple of critical reviews on Amazon were snarked quite nastily (and now deleted) by a couple of *sock-like* commenters who interestingly enough had only one review - can you guess what book? Then a whooooooole bunch of glowing reviews starting showing up, one after the other. What had me rolling my eyes was a blog post I saw the author make talking about learning to deal with the critical reviews, which is great and the right attitude to take.

However, the author proceeds to note that he/she also appreciated how his/her friends and family jumped in their support. I sincerely hope that the friends and family who jumped in to support were not the ones snarking the critical reviewers and writing those one paragraph gushy reviews. I certainly hope not :mad:
At home with a good book and the cat...

...is the only place I want to be

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juleswatson
Avid Reader
Location: now Washington DC
Contact:

Postby juleswatson » Mon July 12th, 2010, 1:23 pm

I don't really understand this feeding frenzy of authors madly jumping on every review, getting into public spats and engaging in underhand behavior. Call me old-fashioned - and this has possibly been to my detriment - but I come from the "sink or swim" school of thought and am basically, throw it out there and see what happens. I never seek out reviews; I read them if they crop up. You CAN actually spare yourself the torture. If it's good enough, then without any interference or angst from you, it will most likely garner enough good or goodish reviews to offset the bad ones. Suck up the bad ones. One thing that was a pleasant surprise from reading this forum was that a/ bad reviews don't necessarily put people off, and they can gauge from the review whether it suits them or not anyway; and b/ a three star review aint that bad! When authors start freaking out and getting into public debates about bad reviews, it does MUCH more harm to their reputation than just leaving those bad reviews floating out there. Do people have too much time on their hands? Are they masochists???? :eek:
Author of Celtic historical fantasy

New book "THE RAVEN QUEEN" out Feb 22 2011: The story of Maeve, the famous warrior queen of Irish mythology.

Out now, "THE SWAN MAIDEN", the ancient tale of Deirdre, the Irish 'Helen of Troy'

http://www.juleswatson.com

User avatar
Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Mon July 12th, 2010, 1:49 pm

When authors start freaking out and getting into public debates about bad reviews, it does MUCH more harm to their reputation than just leaving those bad reviews floating out there.


Bingo. Several of my friends at Goodreads and myself have pretty much decided to never read a book by any author (or friend of author) who attacks critical reviews. Period.

Lol, I came across a real nasty comment on a one star review (not one of mine) and a little simple googling of the person's name + author and I found her being thanked in the author's ackowlegements. Curiously enough, I later came across another snarky comment by the same person. Different author, but same publishing house. A publishing house with a past history of authors not behaving so nicely towards reviewers. Hmmmm.
Last edited by Misfit on Mon July 12th, 2010, 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
At home with a good book and the cat...

...is the only place I want to be

User avatar
Michy
Bibliophile
Location: California

Postby Michy » Mon July 12th, 2010, 3:10 pm

"juleswatson" wrote:and b/ a three star review aint that bad!


It really does seem strangely curious to me that so many of the authors who have a tendency to go over the edge, do so over 3-star reviews. My feeling about 3 stars (which is how I suspect the majority of readers/reviewers feel) is that it is a book that is "ok." It is middle-of-the-road. It is not a great book (many of the books that I rate as 3 stars are not keepers for me), but neither is it terrible. In short, it is "good but not great." I can't understand why an author would go ballistic over that.....


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