Indie Authors Monthly Magazine For Authors and Readers discussion

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Author Chat! > Is it important to know what a reviewer likes to read?

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message 1: by D.R. (new)

D.R. (woodhawk) | 20 comments Just as there will be those that can't stand your subject, there will be others that love it. I would think that a reviewer who hates your particular topic might have a biased view of it. Is this really the case?


message 2: by Jim (last edited Nov 06, 2014 05:21PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic Daniel,

Reviewers are just readers who expend the time and effort to write and post their personal opinion of an author's work. Most personal opinions, by their very nature, are biased to some extent.

The vast majority of readers choose books based upon their personal taste in genre and/or the author's writing style. Therefore, they tend to choose something that past experience has taught them they will probably enjoy reading. Occasionally, the choice may not live up to their initial expectation, but, more often than not, it does.

There was a time when there was no incentive for readers to step outside of their comfort zone; so they seldom risked purchasing a book that they instinctively felt they might not like. The renaissance of independent and self-pubishing, inspired by the personal computer and internet, changed that forever.

The market is now flooded with so many 99-cent and free e-books, many readers feel they have nothing to lose. They read genres which they may have never dreamed of trying in the past. Unfortunately, most tastes do not change easily; so when they read a story, the subject matter of which makes them uncomfortable or angry, the reader sometimes reacts by posting a scathing review. It doesn't matter if it was technically well-written and skillfully narrated. They didn't like or agree with the subject matter, so to them, it was a bad book.


message 3: by Renee E (last edited Nov 06, 2014 02:41PM) (new)

Renee E Yes, there's bias. We have to recognize that — it's an opinion, personal taste. A good reviewer should be able to take that into account when writing a review and, if there is a strong bias, pro or con, state that as a caveat in the review.

But objectivity is an ability that seems to be hurtling into obscurity.

I am so disheartened when I read reviews anymore, because rarely are they more than superficial, genre-lizations.

Subtlety, depth, a writer's understanding and exposure of the nature of human feelings, thought and behaviors, actions and reactions, seem to be lost on the majority of those who *read* today.

Few readers/reviewers notice any of the archetypal themes, miss any humor that isn't verbal slapstick. Farce goes right past them. They don't even see the threads of the weave of the story. Motivations that aren't spelled out (and then they complain about too much detail) are lost. They finish a book or short story and haven't discovered anything new about themselves or the world they move through. They find no answers, and they discover no new questions.

Too, a number of would-be reviewers seem to use reviews as a way to vent a bad day, a bad mood, or a bad case of PMS (Piss & Moan Syndrome), as a quick ego boost for themselves or even sometimes (and I see this most often in the fantasy genre) as a vomitus of bile on a writer whose work has been better received than theirs.

It's at least as difficult to wade through all the functionally illiterate and/or dishonest reviews as it is to wade through all the book choices, but at least those who have put a book out there, even if they haven't done all the work that they should have in getting it to where it should be, DID put forth the effort and imagination to WRITE.

I've reached the point where the only reviews I pay any attention to are the ones written by writers whose own work I respect (even if I don't really like it) or someone who I happen to know reads with thought and understanding.


message 4: by Angela (new)

Angela Tyler | 35 comments Reviewers are people which means that they are always going to bring their personal feelings and idiosyncrasies to whatever they do and read.

Hopefully, most reviewers at least TRY to be open-minded! I know that on more than one occasion I have be surprised to discover that I liked a book that I had expected to NOT like.


message 5: by Renee E (new)

Renee E Angela wrote: "... I know that on more than one occasion I have be surprised to discover that I liked a book that I had expected to NOT like. "

Now THAT is the kind of thing that makes me pay attention to a review and trust it! :-)


message 6: by D.R. (last edited Nov 06, 2014 03:52PM) (new)

D.R. (woodhawk) | 20 comments All, excellent observations. I'm having the same exact experience today. I purchased a book, after telling the author I would read it. The subject was not one that I felt I would particularly want to read about. There was a time in my life that I may have liked it, but that was long ago. However, since I said I would read it, I did. I am now on the 14th chapter and my enjoyment has increased with each one. If the second half is as good as the first, I will definitely give the book a great review. Of course that does not mean someone else will like it. I agree that you have to find a reviewer that likes what you like, be it for movies or books. Sometimes, I will read what a particular reviewer thinks about a movie and if they hate it, I will be sure to go see it as soon as possible, because I never agree with that person. :)


message 7: by Jim (last edited Nov 08, 2014 04:06PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic Soliciting reviews from the general reading public and occasionally even offering some type of compensation for a review is an anomaly, inspired by the creation of literary social websites.

Once a book is published, readers will eventually discover it through traditional marketing and promotion activities. Some will feel strongly enough, positively or negatively, about the work, to expend the time and energy to post a review on the vendor's website. All the author has to do is be patient.


message 8: by D.R. (new)

D.R. (woodhawk) | 20 comments "Soliciting reviews from the general reading public and occasionally..."

I have to agree that the best reviews will be generated by someone that feels driven enough to put forth the effort to go out of their way to write a review, either pro or con. I also feel that the independent publisher/author is at a disadvantage, not having the resources and the "public" reviewers available to them as large commercial publishing houses do. It reminds me of the "raise interviews" I went through in my work career. My first experience occurred in the US Army when I had to have my Lieutenant give me a performance interview. He gave me a much higher level than what I really deserved, but he explained that the reason for this was that if he did not, then I would never get a promotion. The problem was that almost everyone else was giving artificially high performance levels. If he were truthful and gave me an honest evaluation, my grade would look like I was doing terrible compared to everyone else. I have seen this throughout my work career since the 1960's.

I suppose the problem also rests with the potential readers who believe the reviews they read. Since the five star scale is completely arbitrary and dependent on the reviewer, its a crap-shoot anyway.


message 9: by Glenn (new)

Glenn Conley (gecizzle) As an honest reviewer, I can say that the subject matter of a book definitely does make a difference. I mean all you have to do is take a quick look at my blog, and you will quickly get an idea of what kind of books I like to review. I mostly like horror/suspense/thriller type of books.

I can't stand romance novels. Just recently, an author sent me a romance novel to review. I figured, what the hell, might as well give it a shot. I read it, and it was garbage. Someone who actually likes romance books may have had a different opinion.


message 10: by D.R. (last edited Nov 08, 2014 07:46PM) (new)

D.R. (woodhawk) | 20 comments That makes sense. In the end, you have to find a reviewer that likes what you like and go with him or her.


message 11: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Stone (alysonserenastone) | 194 comments I have to be really into what I am reading before I reviw. That means I either like or hate what I read. The subject matter is a big one. Fiction, I'm not too picky on and tend to leave good reviews. I'm very picky on nonfiction. It just really depends. With that being said, I think it does depend on the reader.


message 12: by Glenn (new)

Glenn Conley (gecizzle) Then again, I just finished a fantasy book, and I'm not a big fan of fantasy, but the book was just amazing. So, in the end, it doesn't really matter, as long as the book is actually well written, and compelling. I gave it 4/5 stars, which is a rare occasion for me, even in the types of books I prefer.


message 13: by D.R. (new)

D.R. (woodhawk) | 20 comments "Then again, I just finished a fantasy book..." We obviously have a glitch in the space time continuum! :)


message 14: by Jim (last edited Nov 09, 2014 10:45AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic Many have a favorite genre, upon which most of their reading time is dedicated, but an avid reader's curiosity will motivate them to occasionally try something entirely different.

An author's technical writing and narration skills, along with the originality and entertainment value of the story itself, determine how well a book will be received more than genre preference.


message 15: by D.R. (new)

D.R. (woodhawk) | 20 comments I agree with that too. I have been reading Moira Young's book "Blood Red Road", an apocalyptic novel about a young woman living in a dried up wasteland. The entire book is written as if the the main character is doing so. The affect of the misspelled words, incorrect grammar and general disregard for writing rules only enhances the character. Its very interesting. I prefer a good idea in a story more than proper grammar and sentence structure as long as it doesn't keep jabbing me in the eye.


message 16: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Rhoades (jackierhoades) | 33 comments Jim wrote: "Many have a favorite genre, upon which most of their reading time is dedicated, but an avid reader's curiosity will motivate them to occasionally try something entirely different.

An author's te..."


Sorry, but I'm going to disagree. reviews are the lifeblood of an Indie author like me. I may have eclectic tastes in reading material, but most readers have favorite genres or nonfiction subject areas (ie. memoirs, or biographies)Even within a genre like romance, you'll find most readers have likes and dislikes and writing a cross-genre novel is tricky unless you have a following who will take a chance on your name. Yes, the luck of discovery plays a role, but readers also like to see a few reviews before they buy that pig-in-a-poke and many of those free books never get read.

Most reviewers on GR will choose something in an area they like. Most book bloggers are very explicit about what they will and will not review and that's a good thing. You don't want a blogger with a police procedural/detective story readership to review your paranormal!


message 17: by D.R. (new)

D.R. (woodhawk) | 20 comments When reading reviews, I find that the poor ratings are important to me also. I take a sample of both. What I search for is why someone liked or did not like a story. I once had a man read my Sci-fi Romance Mystery and say he didn't like it because it had romance in it, and he doesn't like romance in a book. That was his reason for giving it a poor rating. (smile)

Many people don't read reviews, but many do. As an Indie author myself, I can testify to how difficult it is to even get someone to look at it, much less read it. Unless you are incredibly fortunate, or have plenty of money to advertise over the radio and TV, perhaps have a trailer made, it is going to be difficult to sell your book. And the fact remains, if your potential readers don't know your book exists, they aren't going to buy it. For the Indie authors out there, a lot of positive reviews will go a long way towards having someone consider a purchase.


message 18: by D.elliott (new)

D.elliott | 3 comments I think there are some readers out there, particular the one's who have eclectic tastes, who are able to read objectively. However, for most of us reading is a personal thing and our opinions of a book are often subjective. So, I suppose for any writer that's where identifying and targeting your market comes in: I've seen plenty of good books go unnoticed out there and plenty of mediocre titles rocket to success, all pretty much on the basis of right/wrong marketing decisions.


message 19: by D.R. (new)

D.R. (woodhawk) | 20 comments "I've seen plenty of good books go unnoticed..."

Excellent comment. Thanks.


message 20: by Jim (last edited Nov 14, 2014 09:52AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic Readers write reviews for other readers, not authors. It is an expression of their personal opinion of the book. Subjective ratings and comments should, by their very nature, vary. Very rarely, if ever, is every review poor and all of the comments negative or vice versa.

Authors should not obsessively read every review. However, if they insist upon doing so, they should not think of a review as direct correspondence to them alone or interpret negative reviews as an attack upon them personally.

The most accurate measurement of the success or failure of an author's work is the quarterly sales report and accompanying royalty check.


message 21: by Renee E (new)

Renee E Jim wrote: "...The most accurate measurement of the success or failure of an author's work is the quarterly sales report and accompanying royalty check. "

So, you're saying we should endeavor to write as well as E. L. James or Stephanie Meyer?


message 22: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Rhoades (jackierhoades) | 33 comments Jim wrote: "Readers write reviews for other readers, not authors. It is an expression of their personal opinion of the book. Subjective ratings and comments should, by their very nature, vary. Very rarely, if ..."

I understand what you're saying and I agree, Jim. Don't obsess over reviews and don't take them as personal attacks (though some of them sound that way). They are written for readers, but we writers can learn from them. Good reviews can show you your strengths. Others can show you your weaknesses. Some, you can't do anything about, i.e. not enough sex, too much sex, or my favorite, one star because the book didn't download from Amazon (like that's my fault!)

I know it's considered bad form by some authors, but here on GR, I always 'like' 3 star reviews and up (not ratings, but reviews) and I always write a quick thank you and tell them it means a lot to me. 3 stars always get my appreciation for their honesty. Though I never expected it, the added bonus is that I've increased my reader base.


message 23: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Renee wrote: "Jim wrote: "...The most accurate measurement of the success or failure of an author's work is the quarterly sales report and accompanying royalty check. "

So, you're saying we should endeavor to w..."


Renee,

Any career worth pursuing is competitive. A lack of competition within any field indicates that few consider the potential rewards worth pursuing.

In order to be successful, you must strive to excel at whatever you do. Complacency leads to mediocrity and a consistent mediocre performance in any field guarantees failure.


message 24: by Renee E (last edited Nov 14, 2014 03:53PM) (new)

Renee E Jim wrote: "Renee wrote: "Jim wrote: "...The most accurate measurement of the success or failure of an author's work is the quarterly sales report and accompanying royalty check. "

So, you're saying we should..."

"Renee,

Any career worth pursuing is competitive. A lack of competition within any field indicates that few consider the potential rewards worth pursuing.

In order to be successful, you must strive to excel at whatever you do. Complacency leads to mediocrity and a consistent mediocre performance in any field guarantees failure."


I'm not advocating complacency, Jim, or complaisance for that matter, even though the marketplace seems to vehemently contradict your assertion.

I'm also not advocating making the measuring stick of the success or failure of one's work a comparison to querulous tripe and fan fiction, the consistently mediocre — which is what going by the dollar yardstick accomplishes. The consistency of mediocrity seems to be demonstrably established.

A "yep, you're real all right" from a reader with a previously demonstrated appreciation of literature is a far better measure, at least to me. But I'm probably not fashionably money-centric.

Money's nice, and it sure as hell helps with the rough spots, and yeah, I could definitely use a better inflow of it, but realistically, looking at the books that do bring in big paychecks, it often has very little to do with quality of content or execution. You have to hit a hot button at the right point in time, in the public consciousness (or sometimes it's more like semi-consciousness), regardless of quality.

Probably my favorite author, who is compared very favorably to Faulkner and Steinbeck and acknowledged among literati as an important voice in American literature and, most importantly, writes a damned good story, is largely unknown, even to the well read. Jack Cady. Most often met with "Jack Who?"

The only real reason I can summon, personally, for striving to put my best out there is a feeling of moral and ethical obligation to the story and to myself, to do right by both of us. After that it's a question of whether you're loaded with birdshot or buckshot, aiming or shooting blind, and if any of it connects.

There's a great deal of fluke involved in the whole business, no matter how carefully and diligently we do our work.


message 25: by Jacqueline (new)

Jacqueline Rhoades (jackierhoades) | 33 comments Renee wrote: "Jim wrote: "Renee wrote: "Jim wrote: "...The most accurate measurement of the success or failure of an author's work is the quarterly sales report and accompanying royalty check. "

So, you're sayi..."

You've got it, Renee. There is a huge amount of luck involved. My first book to hit the best seller lists had no promo at all - Promo? What's promo? I have others I've promo-ed the heck out of and zip, nada! I happened to find a niche audience for that first series and while I like my contemporary series more and think it's better written, it doesn't sell. Go figure!


message 26: by Renee E (last edited Nov 14, 2014 05:57PM) (new)

Renee E I just stumbled on a surprisingly eloquent short essay on the fluke aspect of this business written by Stephen King.

http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/03/09...

The honest intent to do as well as possible—that has to stand at the base of any writing career. The object in view is to not let the money sway you from that, or the critics, or the wrath of God. Honest intent has nothing to do with art, one way or the other; art is its own master and talent is merely its whore. Honest intent only applies to the more humble side of writing: the craft. You sit down in front of the typewriter and do the best you can. You play fair. You keep your hands clean. And then, if the money comes:

~Stephen King



message 27: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 169 comments No matter what, there is a whole lot of luck involved. Sure you have to deliver your best 'performance' but even so, it doesn't guaranty sales (or reviews), so to measure up the quality of one's work by the quarterly sales only is (forgive my bluntness) ridiculous.

As for the question if one should know what is the reviewer's favorite genres, well...If you are going to ask someone to review your book, you definitely should know before hand.
If we are talking about a normal review, it's all about what the reviewer wants to do. Personally, if I read and review a book out of my normal genre, something I might not have read otherwise, whether I liked or hated it, I will mention it. I imagine that it would help potential readers to decide whether or not the book is for them. It may also help me if I ever change and somehow fall in love with a genre. It's always fun to read old review and realize that THIS was the book that opened up new horizons for me. :P


message 28: by Jim (last edited Nov 14, 2014 06:22PM) (new)

Jim Vuksic G.G. wrote: "No matter what, there is a whole lot of luck involved. Sure you have to deliver your best 'performance' but even so, it doesn't guaranty sales (or reviews), so to measure up the quality of one's wo..."

G.G.

Your bluntness would merit forgiveness, if anyone had stated that the quality of a literary work could or should ever be measured by how many copies are sold. However, a review of the twenty-six messages prior to your post reveals that such a statement was never posted.

You may be referring to message 20 in which I stated: "The most accurate measurement of the success or failure of an author's work is the quarterly sales report and accompanying royalty check." However, I cannot take credit for it. Sales serves as the industry standard of measurement to determine the level of success of any book.


message 29: by Renee E (last edited Nov 14, 2014 06:35PM) (new)

Renee E The difference here, it appears, is that G.G. is speaking of the measure of quality and Jim is speaking of determination of success in this latest post.

The two are not necessarily mutually inclusive.

Post #20 stated that: The most accurate measurement of the success or failure of an author's work is the quarterly sales report and accompanying royalty check. The confusing/offending phrase in this statement is "an author's work," implying that if a writer doesn't get a fat check their work is a failure.


message 30: by Jim (new)

Jim Vuksic Renee wrote: "The difference here, it appears, is that G.G. is speaking of the measure of quality and Jim is speaking of determination of .

The two are not necessarily mutually inclusive."


Renee,

Exactly. Some may not agree that sales should be a measure of success. It may not even be the best method. But, for better or worse, it happens to be the internationally accepted measurement utilized to determine the level of success of any product that is sold commercially, including books.


message 31: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 169 comments Of course, I agree that sales should be used for measuring success. However, I wanted to specify that sales should not always be the measurement for quality. There are some good books that don't get the coverage they deserve and might never make it. Yet, given the chance, they would. Alas, luck plays its part (or in some cases, forgets to play its part).


message 32: by Renee E (new)

Renee E It is only the accepted measurement for people who accept it.

That's a great deal of why there's so much shoddiness in the world we move through. It's the right hand of greed, it gives credibility to greed. It validates greed as the rightful measure of worth.


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