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Review Requests > Reviews and Expectations: A Discussion




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Thayer Berlyn | 39 comments I haven't had any odd reviews. A couple have been short and charming; others long and detailed.

I've read some well-crafted inside previews of books on Amazon followed by some good reviews, but overall interest in those same books appear to be non-existent, judging by the rankings. This makes me question how effective reviews are in creating reader interest. I suppose there are other factors involved, visibility, etc.


Andrew Lawston (AndrewLawston) | 21 comments I imagine the book's author would consider it a negative review, but yes, I certainly wrote my piece with a pretty clear conscience. Interestingly it was the first time I'd ever had a helpful vote on an Amazon review (I've still only put 15 reviews up on Amazon).


Sheila | 104 comments Andrew wrote: "But as a reader, yes, I've written a negative...I went in expecting it to be pretty funny. And it wasn't. So, yes, I felt I'd been mis-sold the book "

Warning readers off who might otherwise be disappointed (and give bad reviews) doesn't sound like a negative to me. I guess I feel like part of the reviewer's "job" might be to bring out the right fit between reader and writer. Not that I think I could do it particularly well, but I'd like to think I try.


A.F. (scribe77) | 1473 comments Mod
Andrew wrote: "I don't really comment on reviews I've received, I'm grateful for anyone who's taken the time to read my book and share their reaction with the world.

But as a reader, yes, I've written a negative..."


True, some blurbs can be misleading.


Andrew Lawston (AndrewLawston) | 21 comments I don't really comment on reviews I've received, I'm grateful for anyone who's taken the time to read my book and share their reaction with the world.

But as a reader, yes, I've written a negative review when a book hasn't met my expectations. For one thing, I read a book expecting that it will be good...

Probably the best recent example though was Hal Spacejock. There was a cover quote from Tom Holt saying it was funnier than Red Dwarf. And as a fan of Tom Holt, Red Dwarf and comedy science fiction in general, I went in expecting it to be pretty funny. And it wasn't. So, yes, I felt I'd been mis-sold the book and posted a review warning away other potential readers expecting something funnier than Red Dwarf.


A.F. (scribe77) | 1473 comments Mod
Annie wrote: "As a reviewer, I approach books with absolutely no expectations. It allows me to approach the book while looking for the appeal in the book. Books are meant as forms of entertainment, information, ..."

A good attitude.


Annie Johnson (chompasaurus) | 4 comments As a reviewer, I approach books with absolutely no expectations. It allows me to approach the book while looking for the appeal in the book. Books are meant as forms of entertainment, information, and advice, so that's what I'm looking for. I don't inject my personal beliefs, opinions, or emotions into my reviews but I also don't review anything that has objectionable material in it (condones hatred or violence of some group of people).

If the book's plot, characters, language, and style are consistent, I can then make the determination of who this book will be appealing to. No frills, no pulling things out of the air just to sound critical. That isn't to say that I'm not criticizing anything, but if I do find significant problems in the book, I will just let the author know and not do a review. I only do negative reviews in those rare cases that an author is advised of inconsistencies and basically says "I don't care". Even then, I don't publish them on my blog. What's the point of talking about books that aren't ready for public consumption or ones that you just plain don't like?


Charity (CharityDlikesIt) | 4 comments As a reviewer I do start reading a book with some expectations:

The title and cover art should reflect the story: example- if there is a nearly naked person dressed in leather and chains, I expect the story will have sexual content and some BDSM- if it ends up being a romantic love story that the leather and chains had no part of- my review would reflect that.
I have an expectation that any book actually published should have minimal errors-I do give more slack on the ARCs and self published books I read, but if it comes from an actual published house I don't want to be distracted by editorial errors.
If I have read several stories from the same author I have an expectation that the quality either be the same or improving with growth. Example-if I read a published book from 2010 and then another by the same author in 2012 I want the quality to be up-to-par as far as structure and flow as the previous book.
If a book or story is conveyed as a paranormal I expect it will have paranormal elements. Example- A vampire book should make some reference to that vampire drinking blood at some point to prove to me it is a vampire.

Other than those points I try to dive in with an open mind to the creativity and imagination of the author. My best reviews are books that capture me, refuse to let me put it down, have good flow and little to no errors. If I can put myself in the story and want to be a character-then I am sold.


Sheila | 104 comments Matt wrote: "When I write a review I decide what the author is aiming to do and evaluate whether that has been accomplished. It's my writing-workshop training, I suppose. My expectations aren't the issue; the i..."

I guess I start reading with some kind of expectations, but like you, I try to work out what the author's intentions are before I review. I might mention my expectations if they seem relevant but not otherwise.

As to reviews I've received, so far I've had sufficiently few that each is celebrated with coffee and chocolate.


A.F. (scribe77) | 1473 comments Mod
Matt wrote: "When I write a review I decide what the author is aiming to do and evaluate whether that has been accomplished. It's my writing-workshop training, I suppose. My expectations aren't the issue; the i..."

I try to offer any criticisms as my personal opinion, rather than a commentary on whether or not the book was badly written, and lead with what I liked before discussing any dislikes.


message 8: by Matt (last edited Mar 25, 2012 08:27AM) (new)

Matt Posner (MattPosner) When I write a review I decide what the author is aiming to do and evaluate whether that has been accomplished. It's my writing-workshop training, I suppose. My expectations aren't the issue; the issue is the writer's intentions and expectations.

I consider whether the book entertained me and want to say where it did entertain me and how it could have done so more. If it didn't entertain me, I might say so followed by saying what sort of reader might be more entertained than I was. I also think about the best way that I can support that author's effort without being dishonest. I won't trash anything unless I think the person's commercial success is already established; I don't want to kill anyone's career. So I'm happy to say that, say, The Lord of the Flies is a piece of fecal matter, which is what I think, but I won't lay into a fellow indie who is trying to hustle to get a career started.

This is how I review, anyway.


A.F. (scribe77) | 1473 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "Ahh, I bet the reader hadn't read any flash fiction pieces before."

Quite possibly.


A.F. (scribe77) | 1473 comments Mod
Mia wrote: "I think the oddest review I've received was on the first book in my paranormal suspense series, where the review said: "thank you, Mia. that was very informative" and I was like... Informative? Rea..."

I am familar with the not as good as you expected disappointment.


Jason Baldwin-Stephens | 69 comments Ahh, I bet the reader hadn't read any flash fiction pieces before.


Mia Darien (mia_darien) I think the oddest review I've received was on the first book in my paranormal suspense series, where the review said: "thank you, Mia. that was very informative" and I was like... Informative? Really? The only thing I can think of is they were commenting on the Guide to the Preternatural I include at the end of the book, but it still seemed strange.

Expectations do play a part in things oftentimes I think. I know personally I try not to go into stories with defined expectations, but the one that always catches you is when you expect a story to be, well, better than it ends up being. That one is universal, I think.


message 3: by A.F. (last edited Mar 22, 2012 09:37AM) (new)

A.F. (scribe77) | 1473 comments Mod
Jason wrote: "Hi A.F.

Could it be that the reviewer felt there was more ground to cover than you did in your short?

As to my oddest review? Well, I haven't received very many so I can't contribute much here : ..."



The reviewer did remark he wanted more, and I can understand that if he thought the story didn't work well. I suppose commenting on the length struck me as odd because the story was a flash fiction piece which by definition is supposed to be short.


Jason Baldwin-Stephens | 69 comments Hi A.F.

Could it be that the reviewer felt there was more ground to cover than you did in your short?

As to my oddest review? Well, I haven't received very many so I can't contribute much here : )

I did receive a 4 star for one of the short stories I have up on Amazon in which the person seemed to really enjoy the story but they didn't say why the 4 star rating instead of the 5 star.

I looked at their review history however and saw that they really only ever gave 5 star reviews to Mysteries which my story was not.


A.F. (scribe77) | 1473 comments Mod
Recently I read a one line review of one of my free short stories where the reviewer said he felt it was too short. My first reaction was to find that statement odd, a bit like saying that cheddar tastes too cheesy. Then I started thinking, perhaps he reviewed the story with disappointed expectations, expecting one thing and getting another.
So, out of these ruminations I have two questions for discussion:

For writers- What’s the oddest review you ever received for a book?

For readers- Have you ever given a book a less than stellar review because of disappointed expectations?


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