|You've got to read this book!|
I've got a special treat for you today. Eden Winters has agreed to guest blog and she's one of my very favorite authors. She's got some interesting perspectives on reviewers and review sites. So kick back and enjoy and once you're done reading this, you should visit her site and learn more about the awesome author.
Let's get a few things out in the open before I begin, okay? First off, I'm an author. Secondly, I'll be talking about reviewers. And yes, I'm a reviewer fangirl. I'm not necessarily referring to reviews about my work, either, but reviews in general.
I've heard that some authors avoid review sites, and I've seen a lot of blog posts about reviews and reviewers. Regardless, I have to say that I'm very much into reviews for many reasons. Not the one line "this sucked" variety of review, but a well thought out, well stated, honest assessment of a book. These types of reviews are extremely helpful to me, both as a writer, and as a reader who wants to spend her hard earned cash on a book she'll love.
Like a reader with a book, however, I've developed some favorite "writers," for a reviewer is a writer.
If you're looking for name dropping, that ain't happening, but my favorite reviewers have a few things in common:
1) It's very obvious that they did read the book all the way through and perhaps more than once. I love seeing a favorite passage or quotes that gives me a little taste of what the reviewer found enjoyable, or what they found odd, about a book.
2) They give a brief synopsis, but don't give too much away. Again, this shows me they've actually read the book. Spoilers are okay – I have a short memory. I'm old.
3) They list what worked and what didn't, without being harsh or excessively negative.
4) Their review focuses on the work, not on the writer.
Now most reviewers I know don't get paid to review. Some are supplied book copies by publishers or the authors themselves, but many buy their own books. The reasons they review are probably as varied as the reviewers themselves. Whatever their reasons for staying up late, reading a book that may be out of their comfort zone, and then wracking their brains to correctly word their responses, they devote a lot of time and effort to what is often a very thankless job. And be you writer, reader, or reviewer, we share a kinship in our love of M/M literature. Does that one star, "What was she thinking?" review hurt? You betcha it does. It's gonna take one hell of a lot of chocolate, a couple of pints of Haagen-Daas, and crying on a friend's shoulder over beer and nachos to get over, but the bottom line is: if not for reviewers there's a lot of folks out there who've read and liked an author's work, who would never have heard of them otherwise. My own hard drive is full of purchases that a reviewer talked me into.
There are those who say reviews are for readers, not writers, but being the opportunist that I am, I'm going to take advantage of critique. Contracts aren't always open-ended, and at some point, a story in which someone said I overused, for instance, the word "vindictive" will fall back into my lap. I now have a chance to enrich my descriptions with a "vindictive", a "spiteful", a "malicious"… you get the idea. The critique is there for the taking, to make my work better. You bet I'm gonna read reviews and glean the benefit of someone else's point of view. Bear in mind that I'm not talking about rewriting my story to please a single individual, but if someone points out a character name misspelling or other glaring error, I'm gonna tip my hat, say "Thank you!" and correct the darned thing if I get the chance.
A post about my fangirldom wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention the reviewers I've communicated with who freely offer their thoughts. You know who you are, and you rock. And to the poor soul who watched in horror as a middle-aged author leapt over a table at GayRomLit to wrap them in a hug and squee, well, I hope I haven't scared you off conventions permanently.
While my stories come from my heart, and I write what's in me to write, if I offer a novel for sale (or as a giveaway), I genuinely, honestly, with all my heart and soul, hope that whoever reads it feels they spent their time (and money) wisely. Insightful reviewers help me to ensure the value of my work, assisting me to grow as a writer.
So hat's off to reviewers. Keep doing what you do, and I'll keep doing what I do. I'll raise my wine glass, sometimes in toast, sometimes to drown the pain, but either way, may we long continue to read each other's work.