Why book reviews? They’re a great way for potential readers to find out what people think about a book. Good or bad, they should be honest and factual. More often than not that is the case.
I’ve heard it both ways from authors and readers alike. They love reading their reviews. They hate them and avoid them. Personally, I’m of the reading them variety. I don’t go actively seeking them out, but if they come across my path I do read them. Some of them make me smile with pride. Others make me laugh at the way they’ve been constructed. Some get major, but simple to grasp, book details wrong. Others still are mean and inflammatory where the reviewer is using their platform (whatever the size) in an attempt to sway people to their way of thinking.
I may be a little perverse, but while I love a review that raves about my books, I also really like the ones that don’t tell me how brilliant I am. What I mean by that is that I like the reviewers who take the time to think about what they’ve read and then spell out what did and didn’t work for them and why. These are the reviews I learn the most from.
An example is this: “I so wanted to love this story, and I liked it a lot. …something missing in the developing relationship between Jace and Misty. And the long separation at the end of the book really didn’t jibe with the ending.” From Chris at Night Owl Reviews who gave Twisted in Tulips 3.5 stars.
I’m okay with someone only liking it a lot, but I do want to try to make people love my work so I’ll try harder next time. And in this case, Chris actually told me what path I took that didn’t work for her. I didn’t have the characters together enough at the end. I get it. It’s a novella, there is only so much space and it’s important for people to see the character and relationship development. Next time, I have the characters apart for a certain period of time, I’ll see what I can do to use that time apart to make sure I am still building their relationship.
Another thing I enjoy seeing are opposing views on the same book. From the time I was just beginning to write and was entering contests to now, I have always hit readers one of two way. They love it or they don’t. There’s not a whole lot of middle ground for me.
This is apparent in a Twisted in Tulips 4.5 review from Night Owl Reviews, which was new for me. I don’t normally get two reviews from the same site, but I’m not arguing. Terri gave the story a Top Pick saying “This story is an absolute winner and has be looking forward to reading more in this series.”
I know. It seems weird that I would like opposing views, but the other thing I take from this is that while I will work improve my craft always, I am never going to please everyone. Some people will see my vision of a story or they’ll see part of it but all or they’ll simply not get any of what I was aiming for. Some of that I can maybe change with tweaks, but mostly that has to do with my voice. I have a definite way that I write that either works for readers or doesn’t. That is something I don’t want to change, because when it works it works very well!
So tell me, if you’re published, what do you think of reviews? If you’re not published, what do you think you can take away from critiques and even rejection letters? If you’re a reader, how much power does a review have over you?