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?


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 …

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Amazon’s Logical TOC and Author Review Rules

I’ve posted about reviews and inserting a table of contents into your eBooks before, but I wanted to discuss them again, with special emphasis on Amazon KDP rules.

First, just a quick word about the table of contents. I’m editing a non-fiction book that I want a proper NCX table of contents for, that shows up in the little Go To menu itself, so I’ve been exploring Amazon’s guidelines. I wasn’t aware before that fiction had to have a logical table of contents, but it is now actually a requirement, and authors are starting to get notices from them to put them in their eBooks if they haven’t already. The HTML table of contents that we did here previously is Strongly Recommended by Amazon as well, but the Logical one is a requirement. This table of contents according to Amazon “Lets the reader easily find parts, sections, and chapters of your book from the Kindle Go To menu. Lets the reader see how far along they are in the book. Especially important for books longer than 20 pages.”

This is not an easy process to find out about. I dug around for weeks finding all sorts of conflicting – and mindblowingly confusing – instructions, that seemed to me only a computer programmer would understand. At the end of all that I found that if you convert your HTML manuscript with HTML table of contents in it to an ePub using Calibre, and then load the ePub on to Amazon, the NCX Logical table of contents appears in the Go To menu. Later, after I’ve finished successfully converting all of my own books, I’ll do a proper post with screenshots of the whole process. In the meantime, it’s something for you to start looking into if you haven’t already got these in your eBooks.

Then the reviews. Amazon is on the warpath right now as far as paid for and dishonest reviews are concerned, and us innocent Indies could get hurt as a result of being uninformed. Whether we agree with them or not, we have to follow the rules of any publisher we use, so getting to know Amazon’s policy on this is important. As authors we are allowed to review books by other authors there, unless we have a personal relationship with them, or had a part in creating their book. So, if you’ve designed a cover for a book or edited it, or had any other part in getting it made, you are not allowed to review it on Amazon. Friends and family are only allowed to chat about your book as part of an editorial review which will have to be vetted via Author Central first, or on the Discussions feature – where it says “Start a Discussion” at the bottom of your book’s landing page. They are not allowed to review it on Amazon. Obviously, no paid for reviews other than paid for editorial reviews, for example from an expert in your book’s genre.

By paid for, Amazon also means that if you receive a gift certificate for a book in exchange for a book review this is a paid for incentive, as is asking for a review as a condition for entry into a competition, among other incentives. Swopping reviews with other authors is also not a fabulous idea. As Indies we want to support each other, and we are so grateful when we do get a wonderful review, that we buy and read the reviewer’s books, and leave our honest reviews for them too, but I think that doing that now would be dangerous – for both of you. Amazon may frown on the author whose book you reviewed as well as you if it looks like a “review for a review”. So, if you really want to review a fellow author’s book if they have already reviewed any of yours, rather do so by posting it on sites other than Amazon, such as Goodreads and your blog. At the end of the day, if we want to carry on publishing with Amazon, we must abide by their rules. Even though we know that we truly are posting one hundred percent honest reviews, there are quite a lot of people who don’t, and getting your books booted off Amazon – which is a possibility here – would be an absolute disaster for any new Indie author out there in today’s publishing environment.


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


Safe Reviewing  Jo Robinson


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


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,






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