Saturday, September 14, 2013

When Are Reviews Useful?

WHEN ARE REVIEWS USEFUL? I had one of those “Huh?” moments after I visited the B&N site this morning and read the latest review of Dying to Dream. And though I claim to be past the stage of crying, ranting, or fuming over not so glowing reviews, there is one aspect that tends to get under my skin. First, I need to point out that this goes for both positive and negative comments. When authors read, obviously they bask in the glory of all the praise their work is given, but at the same time, I believe, they look for what might be ways to improve their writing as they read through the negative comments.

For instance, when both my sister and a blog reviewer remarked that in the first few chapters they were overwhelmed, somewhat confused, with all the characters introduced, I could take that critiquing point and do something with it. It’s a specific point about the writing, and that helps. It’s a useful review.

However, when the comments are vague, for instance, “This book stunk.” or “The writing is immature.” and even at the other end of the spectrum, “This book was great.” as an author I am left with that “Huh?” moment. Authors can’t really do anything with that. I’m not saying that reviewers are obligated to write specifics that will help authors to improve their writing, or at least consider if it’s something they want to change. But what about the readers? Don’t readers look for reviews to help them make a better decision on whether to buy and read books? Can these vague comments help?

I know this is only a personal opinion, but in some ways, I believe, a valid observation. Hopefully, some readers will at least think about it before they write another review.


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