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???

3 comments:

  1. Ouch. Good point. I have given low stars for books I genuinely did not like. But I always feel bad when I do it! So far none of my crit partners have merited that many stars. Maybe crit partners are too close to the situation? And I don't think in this world of cut throat narcissism this is always a real problem. I think some people genuinely deserve five stars and genuinely need encouragement. HOWEVER, I gave a five star review once and paid dearly for it later when someone I know read the book and didn't like it as much as I did. So I had to re-think my reasons for the stars. Subjectivity is harsh. But it's the way of things.

    Thanks for giving us something to really think about!

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  2. Interesting food for thought. If I don't like a book, I generally don't review it. And it's hard to know how many stars to give it. When I read Gone Girl, I wrestled with it. The writing was exceptional. The characters were as real as my next door neighbors (thank God they aren't my next door neighbors, though!) But the book was disturbing. I can't remember what rating I eventually gave it, but in the text of the review, I was honest. Great writing. I couldn't put it down, because I had to know what happened, and I wanted to be finished with it fast to get those crazy people out of my mind.

    If I read a Christian author I don't like, I won't leave a review. I was asked to review a book recently that I really didn't like. There was nothing good to say about it except it was a story that needed to be told. Well, if it needed to be told so much, it should've been told better. I didn't write the review.

    It's often a conundrum to me, and I'm a tough critic. So if I read a book I like--whether CBA or ABA, I leave a review.

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  3. See Robin, now for me, that wouldn't have been difficult at all. When I can't put a book down, I know I've hit on wonderful writing (usually) and even with a dark topic, I would have to give it a good review. With stellar writing, even if it's not my cup of tea, I'd have to ask myself? Was it a wonderful read?

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