Tag Archives: Book Reviewing

What do you want in a Book Review?

Book Reviewing is one of the main things we do here on LitWorldInterviews. So much so, that at one time or other most of us write about them. We write about the importance of them, how to do them, where to find people to do them, and the list goes on.

Most of the time the idea of Book Reviews is looking at it from the point of the author or how to relay helpful information for the author. Today I want to change it up a little.

Today we’ll talk about the Amazon Book Review, or the B&N Book Review. Sites that sell books, not sites that are for people digging for in depth analysis of a book, not that you get that from me.

My belief is regardless of which type of review you do, there is a golden rule to follow; don’t give spoilers. I don’t even care if you mention ahead of time that a spoiler is coming up, I don’t believe it needs to be out there. I do believe in trigger warnings. That’s fine. If you have a book advertising itself as a humorous cozy mystery and you find some type of assault against a woman or children, I say trigger alert away.

Now for the Book Seller Site Reviews. What is the normal person surfing through Amazon looking for? What are the first two things that catch their eye about a book?

That’s right: the Book Title, and Book Cover.

I know when I see a title I then see the cover and if still interested I go to the description or price next. Then I go to the reviews. If you want to know the truth, if the book has a lot of reviews and I see the percentage of 5 and 4 star reviews are high, I may not even read the reviews, unless the price is pushing my thrifty nature a bit.

Now I’m at the reviews. What do I want to know?

Enjoyment Factor is what I want to know.

  • Did they enjoy reading the book overall?
  • Was there anything in the book that took away from the enjoyment?
  • Did it deliver what it said it would?

Notice I didn’t mention unfavorable comparisons to other authors, long diatribes of things hoped for, or saying the author is the worst ever. There was mention of showing of a literature degree.

So what’s the difference in the writing of a review site review and an Amazon review?

If I came across a book I didn’t like, and the author asked me to post the review regardless of my score, I would keep in mind what needs said for the book buyer to make a decision. The more detailed version, if an unfavorable review, would go directly to the author in an email. On the site here, I would put detail as well, but still keep in mind not to rip the author apart. There might be several paragraphs explaining why I didn’t like the book.

Here is what I might say about a book I didn’t like on Amazon, if I dared put such a review on there. I doubt I would even if the author asked me to put it on there.

2 Stars

“The books idea seemed to be a good one from the description, but for me, it just didn’t come through in the actual story itself. I liked the main character most of the time, but there were inconsistencies that didn’t make sense to me within the given storyline, maybe in a sequel? What seemed to be important subplots never played out or ended up later contradicted with other plots. I’m not sure if this was intentional or oversight. It felt to me as though the author was so excited to get the book into our hands, they raced to the finish line when a little more time would have made a much better finished product. I’m not sure I would read it a second time in its current edition.”

What the review means.

“The author’s story does not match the excitement or intrigue of book description given. The main character is not well developed. In addition, the main character is like reading a confused jumble of ideas that never comes together for any reason. Maybe the author kept changing their mind during the writing and didn’t go back to edit for character continuity. Important subplots are left behind and ignored, as if the author completely forgets he ever wrote about them, and that makes for irritating points later that didn’t match up. It feels to me the book was rushed to market without being properly proofread and edited, which is what a customer is paying for. I would not recommend this book to anyone.”

Why do I not say the second review in an Amazon review?

There are a number of people involved in getting a manuscript to book form. It’s not only the author or authors. You also have proofreaders, editors, and publishers. An author cannot wholly depend on their own judgement about their baby. With my book, co-authored with PS Bartlett, we had each other to look to for any problems that came up and to push each other forward. That did not stop us from going to beta-readers, to test the story out. Then we took suggestions and made some edits. Then PS Bartlett sent it to her editor she’s worked with on some of her previous books.

Does all of that make for a perfect book? No. There is no such thing as a perfect book, but through that time taken, you can end up with a very enjoyable read.

What an author does is realize a book will never be good enough in his or her own eyes, and must trust others to help push them forward. Books I’ve written, that haven’t seen the light of a Kindle screen yet, are those I haven’t trusted to the eyes of beta-readers because I am not happy with them. In other words, I need someone to push me forward, but I don’t have a person on premises that does that, that encourages and nudges me forward. With the reviews coming out for Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling, I’m getting the confidence I need to move ahead with the more than a dozen books I’ve written.

Now do you see how important a properly written review is? The first review tells a reader that they may not want to read this, warns them there are problems. At the same time, it doesn’t destroy confidence in the writer because they realize they have something there, but they need to work on it longer and take time. They need help getting it in a polished state.

Everything we write has an effect somewhere along the way. We may think we are being funny at times when we hit publish or submit, but the truth is, we could be doing more damage than good. Be honest, but be professional at the same time, even in an Amazon review. Help, not hinder.

As a Reader or as an Author, what do you want in an Amazon Review? Share for others to know. Maybe I’ll compile the results in a future article.

© Copyright-All rights reserved by Ronovan Hester 2016

Be a Good Reviewer.

Be A Good Reviewer

How to Write a Book Review.

How to Write a Book Review with Ronovan Writes

Everyone has their own way of doing a book review and in a way that is how it should be. Always remember a book review is an opinion. That being said and out of the way, I do think there needs to be some common considerations taken.

I don’t believe published book reviews on volunteer sites should:

  • Be for tearing down an author and that author’s work.
  • Nor do I think a poorly written book should be praised.
  • And being paid for a review just doesn’t cut it, unless you work for a site that has ads and also gets paid for the service of book reviewing like major newspapers or magazines. But that’s a job, not a volunteer thing. And even then, honesty is the best policy. For most of us, receiving a good book to review is a nice perk of book reviewing.

Poorly Written Books

Yes, I’m beginning with the tough one. I’ve read books with a great idea, but poor execution. I’ve written books like that as well. We all have to learn and we get excited to get that book out and into hands. I’ve put my novels away, come back to them months later, and found so many mistakes that I didn’t realize were there before.

Personally, I offer the author an out up front. If I read the book and the review is less than a 3 out of 5 Rating, they can choose not to have it published or go forward with it. It’s up to them. If less than a 3 and published, I will make a note I have the consent of the author to do so. This consent is a question on the LWI site Book Request Submission Form. (Why do I give this out? I feel that by putting faith in me and providing a copy of the book to me, they at least deserve that option. If I buy the book myself…I have the option to post as I see fit.)

If the author says to publish, then make certain to be professional and do not write to destroy and tear down. Your Rating will give the reader one idea of what the book is, while your words explain things. Some people want to see a reviewer go off on an author and make fun of them. You won’t find that on LWI. We’re mature adults who are teachers, professors, doctors, lawyers, authors, and university students. We take our role in the career of an author seriously.

Great Books

You have to decide ahead of time what your idea of a great book is. Some may protest at this idea, but there needs to be some reference point to go by. If you are considering F. Scott Fitzgerald or Hemingway as the great, a 5 Star read, then a 4 may be an extremely great review from you. I tend to lean this way, but I do still let the book itself stand on its own merits. I do give a 5 or a round up to a 5 from something like a 4.8 at times. But for me to do that it MUST be a great book and MUST connect with me. As always, every review is an opinion. The more books you read in the genre areas you like with a reviewer mind the more you come to recognize great writing in those areas. But then you have entertaining writing as well. Book Reviewing is not easy when you are doing it seriously.

Keep in mind that even though the book is great there still might be that something you didn’t like or that bothered you. Is it something worth sharing? Did it stay with you? If if did, then you may want to refer to it. Why? Credibility. You want your review to mean something.

Book Information

For the LitWorldInterviews site we include the basic information for the book such as Author, Title, Publisher, Publication Date, ASIN and so on. You can look at any of our Book Reviews and see our basic layout. Many Book Review sites include this information. We do add some to it, such as Author, Title, Genre, sometimes formats available and pricing (If I remember to do it on mine). You can checkout Book Review of Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton to see how I put a book review together and how the Book Information looks.

Author Information

A Book Review, for me, is a way to advertise for an author. Therefore, I include as many of the online ways to connect to the author as I can, and I include a profile/bio of the author.

Writing the Review

Most likely if you are reading this you are wondering what you should include in the review. There isn’t a magical formula. Things I attempt (as always depending on my memory and excitement level) to include are:

  • At least the basic story idea and main characters.
  • Things that I connected to without giving away too much of the story.
  • How the flow of the book is.
  • How engaging and immersing the story is.
  • If the characters and voice are authentic.
  • If the setting is authentic, especially if describing an actual place. (You may not know this part but if there is something described that nags at you, such as a high-rise building in the middle of a swamp, then that may be an issue for you.)
  • What genres the book falls into as far as you feel. A book may be classified as a Romance by a publisher but in reality be Literary Fiction that has a relationship in it, but has very little to do with what people consider as Romance.
  • Comparison to any big ‘stars’ of the literary world that may help people connect to the feel of the story and thus prompt a person to purchase the book.

You can checkout Book Review of Dancing to an Irish Reel by Claire Fullerton to see how I put a book review together and how our rating system works.

Is it a MUST to include all of the above, or even half of the above? No. Those are suggestions, and there are plenty of other things people include. Your goal as a Book Reviewer is to give your opinion of if the book is good or not and provide enough information to send a reader off to purchase the book.

One thing to remember about Book Reviewing is to find your voice. There are a great many reviewers out there and in order for you to convey what you are wanting to say you need to say it with honesty, and that will come out as your voice. You can look here on LitWorldInterviews and see we all have different styles and voices. My style is dictated by the book and my enjoyment of it and you can easily tell by a review I have done if I truly loved a book or not before you even get to the Rating at the bottom.

A Book Review isn’t all about proper sentence structure. Sure, you want to be professional, otherwise people will wonder what do you know about reviewing a book. But you are reviewing for story, engagement, flow, and things of that nature. You are telling a story of your own when you write a review, and as James Patterson says, “Focus on the story not the sentence.”


 

Ron_LWIRonovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of  LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com, a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources.  For those serious about book reviewing and interested in reviewing for the LWI site, email me at ronovanwrites (at) gmail (dot) com to begin a dialogue. It may not work out but then again it might.

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@RonovanWrites

 © Copyright-All rights reserved by LitWorldInterviews.wordpress.com 2015

Book Reviews Versus Critiques

An article I found by visiting our friend Jo Robinson’s blog. Okay, so I found it last week but I decided to share it today.

Have We Had Help?

book-review

Since sites like Amazon gave the general public the opportunity to review any book they have read, what many still fail to understand, or indeed appreciate, is the difference between writing a review and what amounts to a critique.

***

Here is a typical example of a professional newspaper review:

The Secret History of the Blitz by Joshua Levine, review: ‘tunnels behind clichés’.

Next is an example of a critique by an individual who quite simply failed to appreciate the book they read:

A second weakness in Frankl’s writing is in the assumptions he sometimes makes to prove his point. He makes overarching generalizations several times in his book, making statements that, although may have been true for himself and those around him, might not have been true for every prisoner in every concentration camp during the Holocaust. For example, in one instance, he says, “The prisoner of Auschwitz …

View original post 366 more words

Amazon Book Reviewing Policy.

Not long ago I wrote an article called something like Amazon Book Reviewing is Dead. That isn’t actually true. The content was based on information garnered from other posts and from parts of the Amazon Reviewing policy. The posts were based on some fact and some personal experiences of the authors of those posts with the process. Each experience may be different.

As a result of that post there were several comments leading me to decide to remove the post and do more research. So read on and you will find links to the actual Amazon Review Policies, which are actually pretty reasonable. And please, don’t link back to this article if you are going to use it as a way of saying I am claiming Amazon Book Reviewing is Dead or trying to scare people away from it. This article sis about giving everyone the correct information from Amazon.

If you are an Author, check out Jo Robinson’s article Amazon’s Logical TOC and Author Review Rules.

Make sure to visit the policies for yourself, just so you know what is what. They even have links on the pages to how to write a helpful review.

What did I find?

Amazon allows reviews of free products as long as you clearly note in the review that you received the product free for a review. Or if you received it as a present, note as such. It doesn’t say that last one in their policies but FULL DISCLOSURE would imply you should simply disclose how you received the item. Below you will find links to various pages on Amazon about their policies.

Here is a link to the FAQ page of the Customer Review Guidelines.

It does not mention specifics about not being able to review free copies of books, but as noted in a comment on the aforementioned article, if you do receive a free Kindle copy through Amazon you do get the Verified Purchase distinction. That is not mentioned on the page but I do know this from personal experience.

But in order for your Reviews not to be removed you must have made a true purchase of some type on Amazon.

Here is what Amazon says about Verified Purchase.

If a review isn’t marked Amazon Verified Purchase, it doesn’t mean that the reviewer has no experience with the product – just that we couldn’t verify it had been purchased at Amazon.

When you write a new review for an item purchased through Amazon, your review will automatically be marked as an Amazon Verified Purchase.

Customer Review Creation Guidelines can be found on Amazon here.

Here is the Help for General Review Creations Guidelines.

Full disclosure: If you received a free product in exchange for your review, please clearly and conspicuously disclose that that you received the product free of charge. Reviews from the Amazon Vine™ program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.

Help and Customer ServiceAbout Customer Reviews gives reiteration of policies of what is not allowed in a dedicated view. In other words, separate from the longer list of information.

Much Respect

Ronovan

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Amazon Book Review is Dead Post Update.

Due to information from several commenters, I have decided until I have been able to dig deeper into this subject the post has been removed. I had gone on information from several other posts I had read and then read the policy myself and they all lined up, but with other authors providing additional information, I felt it irresponsible of me to leave the post up while there was the remotest doubt in my mind.

Many of the points brought up in comments were thoughts I had but was swayed by belief in the arguments of those who protested. Both, in truth, may be correct, depending on the situations.

The information I found supported the opinion but now I am finding myself, through the information provided by those of great trust sending me to dig deeper.

This is not the type of article one expects from me. A great failing in my career of providing information to the Author community.

Please do not confuse any other information from LWI with the content of that article. Until I have conducted enough research to put my mind at ease the article will remain in the trash of my blog.

I will provide an update once I have finished continued research.

My apologies for any confusion this has caused.

 

Much Respect

Ronovan

Lit World Interview Week In Review Jan. 12-16

lit world interview with ronovan writes

Every week here at LWI we have a variety. One way to assure variety is to have a variety of people on a team. This week you found or will find Book Reviews about a man on Mars, a real world family of brothers attempting to put their lives back together and a story about a dystopian world where a man has enough of it all and well, he kills the senators. There is a review for you authors out there about a great self-editing book. You also have an article that broke our records here in every way in only 24 hours about Safe Reviewing. Also you have this weeks Author Interview with short story author, at least for now, Sourabh Mukherjee.

Enjoy checking out anything you missed or read your favorite again.

INTERVIEWS with Ronovan Writes

Loves Lost author Sourabh Mukherjee Q&A

FEATURES

Safe Reviewing  Jo Robinson

BOOK REVIEWS

The Martian by Andy Weir. Olga Núñez Miret

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers Ronovan Writes

“Conditions” by Christoph Fischer Colleen Chesebro

“How to Kill Your Senator” by Kaisy W Mills & James A Courtney Ronovan Writes

RONOVAN’S WHATEVER

Fair Reviewing or Review the Book, NOT Your Expectation. Ronovan Writes

 

 

What can you expect next?

I know I have at least one incredible interview with a lady that just blows my mind with all the talent she has. I was seriously just amazed she wanted an interview. If you want a hint, we connected through an interview I did with author Becky Due.

I also see a Book Review waiting from Olga and you just know Jo will have something great for us. At least one of our other resident authors has but a word in my ear to possibly expect something. So keep an eye.

Much Respect and Much Reading,

Ron_LWI

 

 

 

 

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