Thursday, January 9, 2014

writing reviews


Besides writing, fooling around with images for blogs or trailers, having a life, I also follow a couple of threads about writing. One of them was, for awhile, discussing reviews-- most especially those of books. There are a lot of quotes out there about reviews.

"The bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."    food critic-- Anton Ego from movie Ratatouile.

"I have learned not to read reviews. Period. And I hate reviewers. All of them, or at least all but two or three. Life is much simpler ignoring reviews and the nasty people who write them. Critics should find meaningful work."   author-- John Grisham

"I get terrible reviews everywhere I go."   musician and singer-- Harry Connick, Jr. 
The discussion I'd been reading in the forums was started by the author, Anne Rice. It was intended as a place for authors where she would share what she had learned about editing and writing (generous I thought). One of the subjects that arose was reviews and how important they can be to the reader in making a choice. Reviews, especially on Amazon are regarded as very important.

Now for me, I don't buy books based on them, but how much should they impact? How many people do them?  Publishing houses understand their value and send out promotional books ahead of a book's arrival to hopefully get good reviews from other authors in their house and especially well-known authors.

When anyone buys a book from Amazon (or CD or DVD) they are asked to do a review but how many take that time? What is the benefit of ordinary people, not those educated to it, writing reviews of what they liked or did not? For that matter-- what educates someone to be a professional reviewer? Are they English majors or just someone who can write satirical articles? Admittedly, personal preference cannot be wrong but as soon as you do a review, you (pro or amateur) are telling someone else what you think in order to influence their own purchases, right?

Writers of books, especially indie books, want reviews and they want them whether they are positive or negative. Reviews mean someone cared enough to take time out of their day to express their opinion. Most readers will never do them. I rarely did one in the past and don't do a lot now-- of course some of that is because right now I have little time for pleasure reading.

My books have gotten very few reviews but anytime they do, it means a lot to me. I've had a few where the review is lukewarm, none really negative (so far), but when they say why they feel that way, I can learn from it-- painful as it might sometimes be.

Recently I had another review for one of my books that criticized its cover. That is NOT the first time that cover has been criticized in a review. It led to my redoing it now several times. It might though be the new cover won't please them either.

From Here to There is a romance but it's not just a romance between a man and woman but also of the West as it was and is. I just could not, and believe me I have tried, do a cover that showed a couple for that book. Nothing ever really worked to satisfy me and the readers. Yes, this is one I worked on but just didn't meet the mark.


My covers have many people on them, a few of just a person, but but this one has seemed it should be of the West where it is set. This book is, as one of my readers said, a novel with a romantic emphasis. I think that's a fair assessment.

So I did redo the cover (at the top of this blog), but left it a western scene of the mountains and beauty of Montana. After all, it's why this romance exists-- not only to discuss why so many of us love the West, but how realistic is our view of it? It is shown through a romance with a couple (two actually) learning the lessons first hand.

That reader review led to my looking again at my cover, seeing the font wasn't that good and deciding maybe a different western image would work better. But will it satisfy the next reader? Maybe-- maybe not. I do know though if you read someone's book, buy a CD or view a DVD where you can review it, please consider doing so. It does matter. It's not the end all and be all why someone like me is a writer, but it's a sweet perk.

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