Writing a Review


As my forays into indie publishing continues, I am learning more and more the importance of reviews.  Not only do I realize how much I need them, but I am realizing that other authors need them too.

So, I have been reading about one indie book a week.  And then, forcing myself to review it.  I don’t like to do reviews.  I never have.  I feel self-conscious and worry that what I said will be debated by other people.

However, as I said, I have been forcing myself to write them.  If the writer has appeared to put some effort into it, they get a decent review even if I didn’t really enjoy the book… After all, I don’t love everything I read.  That would be impossible.

And it isn’t just about the professional look of the book.  I can still give 4 or 5 stars to a book that has a typo or two in it.  The author obviously went through some trouble if they only had a couple of typos.  As a writer myself, my first drafts are always a disaster (typos, grammar errors, words inserted or left out that should or shouldn’t be there, etc), so to get to a point where the book only has one or two errors is a feat.  Even the “professionals” make a mistake once in a while, I distinctly remember a NY Times best seller from a major publishing house where a car was blown up in one chapter and the character was driving it in the next (it was blown up a second time later in the book).  Shit happens in the editing process.

So, indies need the reviews.  It is hard to sell books without them…  I try very hard to focus on the good points of the book or writing if I didn’t like the book because it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

However, about two weeks ago, I found myself in a tight spot.  I bought a book that had no reviews.  Not a big deal, sometimes, it’s all about breaking the ice.  It cost me $0.99.  I’m glad the writer gets to keep my $0.35, but honestly, had there been reviews, I probably wouldn’t have bought it.  I think I understand why there were none.  I’ll explain.

I made it through three chapters.  It was a non-fiction book, historical in nature, my favorite non-fiction category.  I couldn’t stomach any more than three chapters.

The book was incredibly well written, it was obvious that the writer had put in a great amount of time doing the research.  I found his interpretation of the facts interesting.  However, at the end of every section, the writer chose to bash any other who didn’t see the facts exactly as the writer saw them.  One chapter, had a two page rant about the subject and other interpretations that in his opinion were obviously WRONG.

As a historian, I am well aware that history is subject to interpretation and that each researcher is going to have opinions about it.  I’m fine with that and even appreciate it.  That is why I never just read one book on a particular historical topic.

The problem was the bashing at the ends of the chapters.  How very unprofessional.  I praised the writing and research in my review and then pointed out that I had given it only 1 star because it was so very unprofessional.  (For the record, my review was removed the next day… not by me)

If I had to guess, I’d say that was why there were no reviews.  Any that had previously been posted had been pulled down.

The moral of the story is “review, review, review”.  Most indies need and love the reviews… a few bad ones make our hearts sink, but they aren’t the end of our world.  And we understand that not everyone is going to love the book, but be fair about it.  Just because you didn’t like it, doesn’t mean you should trash it.  It may mean that it just wasn’t your cup of tea.  On the flip side, if the book is very unprofessional, give it a bad review to show the author what is wrong with it.  It’s always a learning experience.

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3 Comments

  1. I tend not to finish books I don’t enjoy, and I tend not to review books I don’t finish. So most of my reviews are favorable.

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    • I can finish a book I’m not enjoying much. It takes a lot to make me “give up” on a book. Just a quirk of mine. 😀

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  2. young6x7

     /  March 5, 2013

    As I have heard you mention – even a bad review can be a good thing. You can learn and grow was a writer when given a bad review. Now, if the bad review is because the reader hates sci-fi/fantasy mysteries and that was obviously how the book was marketed, well then there is nothing you can do about it. But if the reader makes comments about character development, plot development or in case this, how to be more professional, then use it as a learning experience and do better the next time. To have a bad review removed because the writer can’t take criticism (or a different world view) is just petty.

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