Sunday, March 31, 2013

Five-Star Reviews! By Linda S. Glaz

Here you go; something we all want. Five-star reviews for our books. But what do readers think when they see all fives on a review? Or a review that is amazing and awesome, but so vague, one has to wonder whether or not the reviewer actually read the title.

Readers will probably think Mom and sis did a lot of reviews.

And we want more than that, right? We don’t ask for someone’s opinion so that they can tell us what we want to hear.

I’ve noticed in the inspirational community, we truly encourage each other. A multi-pubbed author might offer to read a work and help a newbie on their way. I have to think that makes our community a very special one. No, I don’t to think it; I know it. I see the acts of kindness every day in many ways. Client A who has been waiting ten years to get a contract will help Client B, who just signed with me, and gets offered a two-book deal at a much-coveted house, to get his or her edits ready in time. Client B might then go on to help Client A clean up her proposal, her last chapters, whatever it takes to get her novel ready.

However, and this is an issue that stands out to me as a negative within the community, when asked for a review, too many of us, and most of us have done it, will give a review that should probably be a 4-star review, five stars. Why? There’s no one answer, but my gut tells me that it’s because we are an encouraging bunch. We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

It’s not hurting feelings, it’s being honest. The author learns from constructive criticism, or should. We all should. Just having smoke blown up our tights doesn’t help us to grow as writers. Crit partners start us out, and reviewing readers keep us going.

I did have to laugh over the review of one book I read. The reviewer praised the author up and down, and then gave her a three. Really? How did that happen? The reviewer complained that there was a “religious” thread in the book. IT WAS LOVE INSPIRED! Really, what did she expect? But the fact was, she tried to let her true feelings be known, silly as that comment was. The truth is what teaches us, nurtures us, guides us.

What type of reviews do you do? Have you seen? Have you endured???


Sylvia A. Nash said...

Okay, I'll jump in. This weekend, I received one of those "more honest" reviews from Goodreads for my mystery released in Dec 2012. I'm still chuckling.

Not that I'm saying it was wrong. In fact, given part of my background, it's very possible that the point made was right.

The chuckle is two-fold. 1. Given the other part of my background, it's almost hilarious. 2. In the six years that I wrote, re-wrote, and edited this mystery, not one reader, critiquer, agent, publisher, reviewer, friend, or family member ever even hinted at this "problem." Other problems yes. But not this problem.

This reviewer, who liked the story's twists and turns, said my language was "stilted and formal."

Oh, did I mention that most of the language in the mystery is between professor colleagues on a college campus?

I will, of course, discuss this with my editor when we start working on my next mystery. For now, I'm wondering how so many readers missed this problem.

As for my own reviews, I'll have to admit, I'm free with the 5s. The thing is I don't usually review books that I don't love.

Anonymous said...

I give five stars when I love a book.Three stats and four stars are common as well. I always share what I like and often what was weak. I gave a 1 star review of a book I disliked so much that I couldn't finish it. I explained what I disliked about the book in the review. I am acquainted with the author. He had asked people to download his book to help him get ratings on Amazon. He wanted feedback. Both my husband and I posted negative reviews. We felt he put it out there before it was ready. The author responded to me on amazon telling me I should have spoken to him privately. He did the same to my hubby.The other review on the post was 5 star and oozing praise. (It sounded like the author spoke) Then three guys began stalking us on amazon making negative comments regarding my character. All three men's name started with the letter J. I suspect the author made those comments too. At first I apologized to the author explaining that I have given bad reviews before. That's when the nasty messages came. The first I responded to trying to explain myself. After the rants continued I pressed the delete buttons amazon provides for unwanted comments. I continue to be honest in my posts. But if I hate a book I hesitate to even post a review.
Cindy Huff

Linda Glaz said...

Yes, I have had an individual with a law enforcement background corrected by a reader who had no experience in the field. Really? While I'm into the whole honesty aspect, and am not excusing the horrid behavior by the individual who didn't get a good review, Cindy, I also believe in considering the months and sometimes years an author puts into a story. I won't post a review for anything under a 3 star or equivalent on any site. The reason being, even if it's horrid, that person has poured his or her heart/life into the work and maybe contacting them personally would have solved the problem. That way, constructive criticism would probably have gone a lot further. But who knows? Some folks (most of us, if truth be known) are heartbroken when our babies are torn apart, hurt by bad reviews, but we also grow from them. I suppose there's no one right answer, just that we should be compassionate, but honest. We don't help anyone by giving out gold stars for work that wouldn't pass a third-grade English exam.