Welcome to Crafting Your Career at RU! Today, I’m excited to introduce Barbara Vey of Publishers Weekly Beyond Her Book. Barbara’s here to provide a candid look at what she thinks makes a good review versus a poor one. If you have questions, please be sure to post them below. Barbara promises to stop by throughout the day.
Good morning, Barbara!
I’m probably the last one who should be talking about reviews since I never read them before I pick up a book or go see a movie since I hate spoilers. I do read them afterward, just to see if the reviewers agree with my assessments. That’s why I created the WW Ladies Book Club Blurbs where regular readers write about the books they read and why they liked them. If they don’t care for the book, it’s given to another reader to enjoy. I always like to think that there’s a reader for every book.
With that said, I do think that reviews add value, when done properly. Reviews should be precisely that…reviews of the book. The plot, the characters, the setting, the research, but never the author personally. I have a big problem with that and attacking the author is never acceptable.
A lot of people look to book reviews as a guide to help them find the kinds of books they are interested in. Sometimes when you find a reviewer that seems to like the same kinds of books you do, it can be helpful. This can lead to the discovery of new authors and sometimes even new genres you’ve never tried before.
After reading thousands of books myself, I’ve come to believe that many things come into play when reading a book. How you feel about the subject matter (I was horribly depressed after my divorce and didn’t like any books that dealt with that subject), what’s going on in your life (are you angry because of a fight with your spouse/boyfriend), did your boss just yell at you for something and you can’t shake the feeling? Reviewers have to put all personal feelings aside when writing about a book. They should be judging it on its merits. Was it a good story? Did it have a good plot? Was the hero/heroine believable and likable and the villain a real creep?
It’s not an easy job, but it is possible to be objective. Taking preconceived notions into it before you even start is easy to do, especially if you personally know the author and either like or dislike them or their previous works. I’ve seen this in action and it doesn’t benefit anyone.
I know that I don’t like sad books, so I would probably give them a bad review. I really hated “The Lovely Bones” and look how many people loved it. Since I’m addicted to historicals, it would have to be a truly bad book for me to dislike it to the point of not finishing it and even then, just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t enjoy it.
Authors would be wise to use reviews to their advantage by enjoying the good ones and ignoring the bad ones. Reviews are just one person’s opinion. Extremely subjective and because of the internet, everyone seems to be a critic. Amazon reviews are notorious for this. The anonymity of it allows people to say things they probably wouldn’t say out loud and if their true identities were known. Thrillerfest does a great job of making fun of Amazon reviews by having a competition to see who has the worst review there. They are hilarious and poke fun at the “reviewers” who most of the time can’t spell and use convoluted reasoning in their assessments of a book. “I didn’t like your first 3 books and I’ll probably not like the next one either.” “Your book made me throw up a little in my mouth.”
So, take the quotes from the reviews that you like and pretend that the others don’t exist. It’s the only way to survive to write that next great book that I’ll be looking forward to reading.
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RU Crew, what are your thoughts on reviews? Do you read them before purchasing a book? Do you read them after your book’s release?
Join us on Wednesday when author Rhonda Grasle gives us an inside look on what it’s like to live with a larger than life man.
As Contributing Editor for Publishers Weekly, Barbara Vey brings readers and writers together with her popular Beyond Her Book blog. From her entertaining “Drive By Videos” to reader feedback on books with WW Ladies Book Club, Cub Reporters and Your Turn Friday, BHB continues to grow into a must read daily adventure. An avid reader, Barbara consumed a book a day before taking on the glamorous life of a roving reporting. Her love of Romance and the Happily Ever After keeps her grounded while she offers readers a place to step away from life’s daily trials to take a positive journey through the world of books.
For more details, visit http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/beyondherbook/.
- The Who, What and How of Book Reviews with Tammie King of Night Owl Reviews
- Reader Reviews and What Not To Do, by Wendy S. Marcus
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for Oct 11-15: Anna DeStefano, Barbara Vey & Theresa Stevens
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for Nov 22-26: Barbara Vey, Rhonda Grasle & Edie Ramer
- Sara Megibow Sells Romance – The Wonderful World of Bloggers