Prehistoric Fiction Writers and Readers Campfire discussion

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message 1: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Saidak (sandywriter) | 108 comments Mod
I thought we needed a thread to compare, commiserate, brag, inform, ask for guidance or simply express confusion on this topic so near and dear to the hearts of writers.

I'll start with a question: has anyone noticed a trend toward really short reviews? My last few on Amazon have all been less than five words. Things like "great read" or "I liked it". It's nice to get 4 and 5 stars, and I'm glad they took the time to post, but I usually say something about the book, or why I liked it. Today I got two like that and wanted to shout: "Glad you liked it, but might you tell me (and other potential readers) WHY?"


message 2: by Ron (new)

Ron Fritsch (ronfritsch) I like to discuss the book I'm reviewing enough to show that I read it. The short two-or-three-word reviews make me wonder if they're from a friend or family member of the author's -- and maybe didn't actually read the book.


message 3: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 72 comments I agree, Ron and Sandy. I just read a one-sentence review of a book that said the reader really liked the cover. Five star. At that point, the review is worthless.


message 4: by Paul (new)

Paul Burnette | 29 comments I am somewhat hesitant to whine about this, but I guess I'm in the middle of it, so here goes. All of the eight 5-star reviews of my book have praised some aspect of it, whether the review was 1000 characters or 20, except for this one, which gave it 2 stars and said, "Did not care for tedious descriptions of action, but did manage to finish book. Not my kind of read." So my comment, now whine-less, is that I've always felt reviews were for focusing on some worthy or unworthy aspect of the writing, characters, plot, literary merit of the story, not the emotional reaction of a reader's preferences about her experience. The description of the book clearly says it's women's adventure, prehistoric, with a lot of action involved. Am I off base here, still whining? Or what?


message 5: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Saidak (sandywriter) | 108 comments Mod
Paul, I agree with your definition of what a review should focus on. I also find the two star review you quoted as having some merit: the reader stated what he/she felt was wrong with it and took responsibility for a personal dislike, rather than insulting your integrity as an author or a human being (which I once had happen to me in a review.)

I realized after I started this thread that it might be offensive to the people who write these short reviews. Since several of them have given me--and apparently other Goodreads authors--4 and 5 stars, I most definitely do NOT want to do that. They may not have time to write more, or they feel they don't have anything original to add to what other reviewers have already said (although, if that's the case, my message would be: say it anyway; writers like to hear it, and many readers make purchasing decisions based on consistency of comments.)

For me, it's also a matter of connecting with my readers. I want to know what made them laugh, what they wish I'd have cut or added, what they want to see in the next book--even off the wall things like they've decided to be one of my characters for Halloween! (ok, that's never happened, but you get the idea.)


message 6: by Mary (new)

Mary Black (goodreadscommarysblack) | 134 comments I suspect many people may be caught off-guard by the Amazon pop-up asking people to give a review. I know I've found it annoying at times when I've been busy with other things. Also many people may not know what to say in a review. Is the review aimed at the author? Probably not, even though we might wish it were. I assume that Amazon reviews are aimed at readers trying to learn more before they hit "buy."


message 7: by Mary (new)

Mary Black (goodreadscommarysblack) | 134 comments Ron wrote: "I like to discuss the book I'm reviewing enough to show that I read it. The short two-or-three-word reviews make me wonder if they're from a friend or family member of the author's -- and maybe did..."

Ron's reviews are detailed and give a lot of information to potential readers. You could teach people how to do this, for sure, Ron!


message 8: by Ron (new)

Ron Fritsch (ronfritsch) Thank you, Mary. A compliment from you means a lot.


message 9: by Paul (new)

Paul Burnette | 29 comments Sandra wrote: "Paul, I agree with your definition of what a review should focus on. I also find the two star review you quoted as having some merit: the reader stated what he/she felt was wrong with it and took ..."
The two-star review's merit was in its rating, an honest bottom-line. What I usually do with general statements in reviews is 'reply' and ask what specifically they liked about the book. Here, I could only think of 'Why'd you buy it if you didn't like that kind of story,' which wasn't something that would have been fair to ask a reviewer. Asking for specificity and being specific myself is part of my DNA, and my goal when writing fiction is to create a moving picture in my reader's mind of the action, characters, dialogue in the scene I'm writing. No philosophizing, no editorializing, no telling them how they should judge anything. Concrete language.


message 10: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Saidak (sandywriter) | 108 comments Mod
Interesting. I was advised not to reply to reviews, although I've often wanted to. I've started replying to direct questions, especially about future books.

Paul, have you found your replies garner further discussion?


message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul Burnette | 29 comments Sandra wrote: "Interesting. I was advised not to reply to reviews, although I've often wanted to. I've started replying to direct questions, especially about future books.

Paul, have you found your replies g..."

My replies have been limited to only a couple, where the reviewer said they rated my book 5-star, but just said something like, "I wish there was a sequel" and "I really liked the characters." I just commented to the first that I was working on a sequel, and to the second that I'd like to know what in particular the reviewer liked about the characters. The negative review, I did not reply to since I hadn't thought of how to address that reviewer's objection to the story, since her complaint was about something that was central to my purpose in writing, something I'd MEANT to do. So, maybe it was a positive comment after all, I thought, but buying my book had been a bad decision for this person.


message 12: by Mary (new)

Mary Black (goodreadscommarysblack) | 134 comments I just started a list on Goodreads Listopia called "Best Prehistoric Fiction Books." I don't know if I did it right, but if you can find it, please add books to it. I only put a few I could remember off the top of my head. Add new books and vote on others. Thanks!


message 13: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Saidak (sandywriter) | 108 comments Mod
I just got my first review for "Keepers of the Ancient Wisdom" Five Stars! Short, but descriptive, and very nice to read. Doing the Happy Dance :)


message 14: by Mary (new)

Mary Black (goodreadscommarysblack) | 134 comments Sandra wrote: "I just got my first review for "Keepers of the Ancient Wisdom" Five Stars! Short, but descriptive, and very nice to read. Doing the Happy Dance :)"

I saw the review. Very nice. One thing we should do is all review each others books for Goodreads and Amazon. That will raise our standings.

Another thing we should each do is to make an individual list on Goodreads and Amazon of "Prehistoric Fiction." The more times a book is "shelved" that way, the more views it gets on these websites.

I started one on Goodreads, but we each need one as well. Please add everybody's books to it. Cheers,


message 15: by Mary (new)

Mary Black (goodreadscommarysblack) | 134 comments I just discovered that we each should add our own books to our personal book list on Goodreads, plus the Group booklist. This is either a great way to get discovered, or the greatest time-waster ever. There always seems like we need to do something on Goodreads! But so far, so good. I'm not complaining.


message 16: by Mary (new)

Mary Black (goodreadscommarysblack) | 134 comments To add even a further comment, I also just found a Goodreads Group widget we can put on our web pages. I set the number of books to 50 in order to capture most of ours, and made the size medium. Then I added it to my wordpress blog in the widget section. I used an empty text widget box to add it. It works beautifully! People can click on it and come right to our Goodreads home page.


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