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Confessions of an Author: Reviews

Posted by Katie L. Carroll on November 19, 2012 in Uncategorized |

Want an inside peak at my writing ways? I’m guest posting over at fellow Muse author Mary Waibel’s blog today.

Confession #2: I’m a very soft critic of other writers on the interweb.

I recently started writing (very brief) reviews of the books I read on Goodreads. I decided to make the time to start reviewing the books I read because I know how important it is to get the word out about books. And I’m very soft when it comes to rating and commenting about books.

(BTW…I’d love more reviews of Elixir Bound to show up on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and any other place you can post reviews. Sooo, if you’ve read the book, I’d really appreciate if you could rate it and share a few words about it on those sites. I don’t even care if you have criticism for it…I’d appreciate the rating or review no matter what.)

Here’s my approach on my book ratings. Three stars means I liked the book, but it didn’t blow me away. Four stars means I really liked the book, but I didn’t quite love it. Five stars means I really, really liked the book, maybe stayed up late to read it and maybe even loved it. My comments generally give away whether it was a really, really liked five star or a loved five star. I don’t think I’ve ever given a book less than three stars. Anything worthy of less than three stars I probably didn’t finish reading, and therefore didn’t end up on my read list.

Why am I so nice in my ratings? I believe it’s important to publicly build up my fellow authors, rather than tear them down. Until you’ve written a book and actually been through the process of trying to have it published, you have no idea the work it takes to get that done. Anyone who’s been through that process deserves to be applauded. So if I took the time to read a book, it means I felt it was worthy and I have no problem telling the rest of the world I enjoyed it.

On the other hand, if you personally ask me, in person, my opinion about a book, I may be a little more critical and candid. Because now I’m having an actual discussion with a real person about a book, a conversation that is not likely to be shared with the greater online world. A personal conversation is very different than a post on Goodreads or a comment in a blog. I’m much more careful when it comes to the latter.

That’s not to say my reviews are dishonest. They are 100% genuine. I just choose to point out what I liked about a book rather than solely focus on what I didn’t care for. After all, I’m an author, not a reviewer.

Do you review books online? What’s your approach?

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12 Comments

  • I totally agree with you. I’m soft too, but I look for mistakes too. Some can be rather blatant and I wonder who edited the book and what kind of mood they were in when they edited it. Things I look for are extra words the author forgot to remove when they were editing, complete sentences strung together with commas, wrong names or losing track of who is saying what by the author, etc.

    • I try to turn off that filter as I read and lose myself in the story. It’s much more enjoyable to read that way, but too many of those errors do tend to bother me. Luckily, a lot of what I read is well-edited.

  • Mirka Breen says:

    Having heard about excessive snarkiness (and the elevation of such by Goodreads) I avoided the site for a while. But finally dipped my toes, and to my surprise, so far so good. The water temperature is acceptable.
    Before this I did review occasionally on Amazon. I only did so for books I really like, the four & five-star Mirka-ratings ones. I figured that the threezies and twozies don’t need my tepid mentions, and the one-star ones should get as few ratings as possible, unless they are harmful to one’s health… Obviously Mein Kampf would have qualified, but everyone has been warned already.
    How to review and support what we like is a personal decision, and open to change. I am very grateful to all who bothered to note my book(s) and I hope you get plenty of feedback, Katie. I’m seriously getting closer to buying an E-reader, and your book would be on it when I do.

    • I was reluctant to start reviewing books on Goodreads as well, but I’ve enjoyed it so far. I don’t even write that much…usually no more than a paragraph.

      I certainly don’t want everyone who reads my book to feel obligated to write something. I just wanted to let those who have read it to know I appreciate any and all ratings and comments. It’s nice to feel like the words I’ve spent so much time with are making even a small impact on someone else.

      I love having an ereader. It’s so great for travel and helps to keep my bookshelves from overflowing anymore than they already are!

  • TheShellWhoCrunched WhileGivingBraveOneStar says:

    I rarely review, but I don’t hesitate to downgrade something if I think it’s garbage. People should know if a book (or film) is marketed as one thing and is actually another. I’ll describe why something doesn’t work, such as Main Character = Mary Sue, rather than say “It stinks!”

    • Hi, Shell! I think it’s important when giving a bad review to have a reasonable explanation, rather than just say “It stinks!” If I really feel that way about a book, I usually just don’t say anything. For me, it would be too much like telling a mother her baby is ugly.

  • Yvette Carol says:

    Hey,Katie, this is my first visit! And yeah, I’m exactly the same as you, being a writer also, I couldn’t slam anyone in a review. So, I only will post a review on Goodreads of books I really did enjoy! 🙂

  • I review for the Historical Novel Rreview Blog and I am quite soft too. If I don’t enjoy a book, I don’t trash it, but look for something positive to say. After all it’s only my opinion, and reading is a subjective thing, bad editing excluded. Even the bestselling authors get bad reviews, look at Michelle Moran, Christopher Gortner and Susanna Kearsley on Amazon – something I do to make me feel beter about getting not so complimentary comments about my own books. My philosophy is: Why be mean spirited? There is enough of that in the world, and what one person loved someone else will simply not ‘get’.

    • I totally agree about not being mean spirited, Anita. And there’s definitely a difference between a review that criticizes a book and one that is just plain mean. I always take those ranting reviews with a grain of salt…it seems some people can’t help but lash out at other people in their reviews.

  • J.Q. Rose says:

    I haven’t reviewed books on Goodreads, but have done a few for fellow authors on Amazon. I agree with your post completely. I don’t trash books I don’t like because I think the perception of someone on a tirade about a book makes the reader wonder about a person who could write such mean things. I am an author and sensitive to both a reader and writer’s feelings. So 3 stars and up would be my choice for writing reviews. I also feel when we receive free books from authors, we really do need to respond by at least liking or rating the book. It helps to get the book noticed.

    • Reviews absolutely help get a book noticed. I’ve come to learn how important those reviews are since becoming an indie author myself. That was one of the reasons I started reviewing on Goodreads: to support my fellow authors.(I should probably go ahead and start posting on Amazon too…maybe when I get five minutes of free time!)

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