Saturday, July 6, 2013

Have you read a book you're afraid to review? Why I only do 5 star reviews

Have you ever read a book that you're afraid to review? I've recently read three. All were good books, but flawed either in editing, head hopping or misuse of words and one had a scene that truly was so unrealistic it totally made me want to stop reading, but the story was GOOD so I continued.

In reviewing a book I like to be totally honest. All three of these books would have been given 5 stars for story, but the issues truly brought the overall book rating down to a 3 or in one case possibly a 2. So why didn't I review these books? Because lately it's become a common practice to "slay" the reviewers for anything less than a 4 star. Would these authors want me to do a review? Possibly because it would have gone something like this:

One of the best stories I've read this month. The author's storytelling is fabulous and made me love the characters and truly want to know where they were going. However, I could not give this book five stars or even four stars because I had to keep backing up to figure out if I missed something due to the change of POV in the middle of a paragraph, and the fact that I couldn't always tell who was talking. I think this author has great potential and I hope they'll seek a good editor to help them make their book the very best it can be.

Now, first of all--I don't do editing. Nor do I recommend an editor unless asked, so I have no gain by recommending this author find a good editor--except that I would love to read more stories by them.

Secondly, I'm an author and any time an author reviews another author's book and gives less than 5 stars it's seen as "slamming" the author for your own benefit.

My comments aren't aimed at Indie authors--as I've read a couple of traditionally published books that I couldn't even finish, and I did finish all three of the books above. They were all indie books and as I said, all contained fabulous stories that I would love to have talked about, but feared giving an honest review.

If you look at my reviews you'll find I only review books I can give 5 stars, or at least 4 stars. I find that sad, and I've talked to many reviewers lately who feel the same way. They're afraid to review the books they've read for fear of reprisal. One even stopped reviewing anything although he's an avid reader. He sends the author an email at times, but no longer posts his reviews to Amazon or other sites. A review he gave caused the author to actually track him down on Facebook and email him over and over and over and over and over asking him to change his review and then getting even more ugly about it. Perhaps the reason more and more reviewers are using "anonymous" as their title, but I'll be honest with you--I don't read reviews that the reviewer doesn't want to put their name on so it doesn't really help me choose the book they're reviewing.

Reviews are important for authors. Even bad reviews. Not everyone loves the same book, and the samples really help us weed out some that perhaps we really wouldn't enjoy. A well written bad review, which points out why the reader didn't like the book can be helpful to the author. 1) It just wasn't their kind of book (shrug it off) 2) They liked the story, but the characters just weren't anyone they cared about (shrug it off) 3) They liked the book, but kept getting lost and would have loved more scene description and background on the characters (ah ha, a gem--something the author can build on in the next book).

Hopefully some day this will change, but until then I'll keep reading, and I'll keep reviewing, but only books I can give a 5 star or 4 star review.


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  2. Linda, I just published a book on Amazon called "Stop Giving 5 Star Reviews," and I just found your post while Googling my own title. It's free today if you want to check it out.