Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reviews--love'em or ignore them

It's been a long time since book reviews were posted in newspapers only. I'm not sure they even publish them now--haven't checked since I no longer subscribe to a newspaper--okay, so I just did and a quick check shows they've gone online, too.

Shortly after e-books, which began shortly before the turn of the century (love saying that--it sounds to me like so-o-o long-long ago even though it's only been seventeen years), online review sites popped up. E-books, in general, were dismissed by well-known, established publishers, and e-book authors were not seen as real authors, but it was fairly easy to receive an online review. Even the stories found in e-books were different, often a mishmash of genres--not to say that this wasn't happening somewhat in print, too, but it was a hallmark of e-books novels.

Then technology kept making it easier to read e-books until now you can read them on your phone. 

Within a few years, the e-book industry started to outpace big name NY Publisher's print books in growth. They took notice and decided to embrace the e-book and it became very difficult for small publisher authors and self-published authors to get reviews with on-line review sites. Yet the methods for receiving reviews also grew. It is probably true that the more reviews a book receives, the better it will sell. A new problem evolved, book trolls and extolling reviews where I doubt the reviewer actually read the book, but I've noticed a growing trend of review police. We live in a strange society, but I think it has always been so, I just wasn't as observant or maybe as involved. I'm sure it's a bit of both. However, I seldom read all the reviews, if any, of a book I'm interested in. Usually, it is the blurb given by the author or publisher about the storyline that decides me on yes or no.

I'm lucky to have received positive reviews on my stories but find it has become very difficult to get reviews from review sites. So I do like that most booksellers now allow readers to comment on books, but they've cut into my profits taking a whopping chunk out of the profits for having a book posted on their site. (This developed from print publishing where publishers paid distributors half the book's profits for getting the books into stores around the country.) I can understand they deserve some compensation, but unless you write for the love of writing, don't think you will get rich. A book has to sell thousands of copies to be profitable for the author. I'm not there yet 😊!

So while I like good reviews, I don't go too far out of my way to get them, in other words, I send them to different sites and hope for the best with no expectation. What truly makes my writing worthwhile is receiving an email from a reader of one of my books saying how much the story was enjoyed. I spend most of my efforts on my book covers and on those bylines and marketing blurbs.

I do review books for one on-line site, but generally speaking those books are assigned to me. That is changing, but even if I select the review from books offered, the review is critiqued before being published on the review site. The books I choose to review because I'm interested, I usually purchase, which I think gives me a better investment as an ethical reviewer. I also post some reviews on another site, but I'm very slow posting due to all the other things I have to accomplish, so I review ancient, old, new, and about to be published books. Since I know how difficult it is to write a story, I try to always look for the best aspects of a particular story, trying to mention mildly any potential problems the reader might encounter, and if I cannot give a good review, I don't give a review at all. Preferences in books, genre, and topics are too diverse, and the book I don't like is one another reader loves.

Check out these other blogs for more opinions on this topic.
Marci Baun 

Dr. Bob Rich
Skye Taylor
Beverley Bateman
Victoria Chatham
Helena Fairfax
Rachael Kosinski
A.J. Maguire 
Margaret Fieland
Connie Vines


  1. I haven't joined any online book review sites. My publisher sends my books to a few, but I basically cultivate reviews from my readers, as difficult and frustrating as that is. As a reader, like you, I read the books I like/am attracted to and try to write a review for all the books I read that I can say something positive about, or contact the author if I think I might have a constructive comment to pass along.

    1. Something positive or no review, yes. I've heard bad reviews are just as effective in selling the reviewed book, but I don't like stabbing the authors involved.

  2. Rhobin, I have been a member of an organization set up to advance the cause of electronic books since 1999. This is EPIC
    Its problem now is that it has succeeded too well!

    1. I am familiar with EPIC and yes they have done great things for e-books.

  3. Same, Rhobin! I don't break a sweat writing to reviewers, and find the ones who come unsolicited are like little surprises. They also seem more real, because I never asked for them!

  4. It's very time-consuming sending books out to review sites. I do try and spend some time doing it when I have a new release, but the results are hit and miss.
    This has been another interesting topic. Thanks for organising the Round Robin!

    1. I have found it to be more miss than hit. LOL

  5. I tried really hard to get reviews early on, but found a lot of people just accepted an ARC and then forgot they had it. Of course, others wrote really nice and, I think, helpful reviews. As time has passed, I've tried less hard. The Oldie magazine publishes a Review of Books which is a round up of the reviews of titles already reviewed and is fascinating reading. It comes stapled into the mag maybe 3 times a year. anne stenhouse

  6. I've sent my book out for reviews and not heard for months, even years. Okay, never heard anything about it again. I've also had people surprise me and read it, which always makes me happy.

    Before I started in this review exchange group, I generally didn't post a review less than 3 stars. However, now, I leave it up to the author. I always try to be fair, kind, and honest in my reviews. The publishing business is hard enough without someone being cruel.

  7. Great post, Rhobin. I enjoyed the history of the eBook and the parallel of reviews.
    And I agree we write because we love it, not because we're going to get rich.