Reviews, Reviews, Reviews! Yes! No! Yes…no?
Before I started writing, I was a proper book addict and when given the chance, I still am a serial reader. I have to admit, it has slowed down a bit because I am working my little socks off to finish Book 2; The Beacon of Light.
Following the careful instructions of many professionals in the publishing world concerning the dos and don’ts, I started my Twitter account. I am a Barbarian when it comes to different types of social media. I am so used to slower paced Facebook, Twitter to me was the ‘what did I get myself into’ forum. #? What is that used for…’ but after many attempts, the site opened up the world to fellow aspiring authors, established authors, book bloggers and literary agents. Here we collectively celebrate successes and moan too, a lot actually but the community is there to catch you when you feel insecure and share their own experiences to lift the dwindling newbie author out of the dark pit. One of the topics which pop up a lot is the ‘Book review’. Should an author read these about their book? What makes a good review? How to do or not to do a review? The opinions are divided. I personally think, as a newbie ‘Indie’ author myself, you cannot sail blindly. Some book reviewers and book blogger’s opinions are that reviews are not for the Author and not to torture yourself. True, I agree but I believe in learning and the only way to learn is to take the bad with the good. When I was still sitting on the reader side of things. I would give my reviews without a thought of what impact it may have. I wrote them for the person who has similar tastes like me. I subconsciously compare books between my much-loved authors, whose work I read for different reasons. Some, I treasured for their light-hearted approach, like David Gemmel, great stories and an easy fast paced read. These books were a holiday after reading, for example, the research books on comparative religion. The books by Janny Wurts, her method of writing would continue to haunt in my sleep. She has such a different style to Mr Gemmel, it took far more concentration. You cannot compare these two authors but they are brilliant storytellers in their own right. My choice of books was based on mood. I don’t always want to read complicated, multiple storylines in one book. In between the strategic brain crackers, I like to read the fast-paced use your own imagination freely books with a dash of humour. Therefore, when it comes to reviews, I judged a book by what I thought it tried to achieve. Did the fast-paced book take the stress away and make me drift off to another world to escape the one I am living in now? If it was a yes, job done! Happy reader. Four or Five stars! Did I have to flick back a few pages because I lost the plot? Was it me or the way it was written? If it was me, fair enough… If it wasn’t but still a good read, 3 or 4 stars! And if it was the fault of poorly constructed paragraphs, the rating would drop to a 3. Maybe I am easy to please. Did I ever give 1 or 2 stars? I have and it was given to a fantasy author who was rated very highly too. The reason was, he didn’t leave anything to the imagination. Huge paragraphs of italics to follow a character’s thought patterns drove me up the wall. I love it when a writer leaves something to the reader's own imagination and is suggestive. I don’t need the gory details of how a person gets chopped into pieces during a battle. There is a fine balance between too much detail and being descriptive. I fell in love with the torturer Glotka in Joe Abercrombie’s book ‘Before they are hanged’. The way Mr Abercrombie sets the scenes was just tantalising. The perfect balance between being descriptive and suggestive. There is nobody who can write a scene as amazing as your own imagination. Your brain fills in the suggestions with more horror than anyone can ever write. So, yes I gave 2 stars to an author but… was it the author’s fault? Who did I really give the 2 stars to? This Author was represented by a literary agent who must have engaged a professional editor and convinced a publisher to take him on. Hindsight is a great thing, knowledge too. Starting out as a new writer, I had to familiarise myself with the ins and outs of this world and it has changed my perspective. I came to realise that, if the books of this particular writer had been edited and guided correctly, the story would have been great. It was executed in a poor way and I blame the editor and agent. It has changed the way I review books. I give more slack to self-published authors who have to do everything themselves versus those who are represented by professionals who have access to a good budget and connections versus the Indie author who in turn may not have any financial resources at all but itches to share their story and their love of writing. I am about to review a book which I have nearly finished and… I find it difficult to give it a rating. The book is a translation into English and I don’t think anyone edited it afterwards. Truly, a story lost in translation. If I give it a 2 star or even 1 star, it isn’t for the imagination of the Author but the execution of the story. Unfortunately, most readers won’t look at it this way and will think the story itself is rubbish and this will reflect on the Author who has put her trust in the person who translated her work. Reviews? Authors need them, especially Indie authors but… how to rate them? Many years ago I bought a Fantasy book by an Indie Author. Will Wight. The story was original, fast-paced, contained humour and action. In short, everything I loved. There were, however, typos in his work. He must have started out the story in the first person and changed it to the third person. Some of these changes had been overlooked. Maybe his characters are not as deep and there are some loose ends but, I loved his story so much, the man couldn’t write fast enough, in my opinion, to bring out the next part of his series. The constructive problems in his text didn’t bother me. I just hoped he would get discovered by an agent who could guide him to make the execution of the story better. My rating despite the errors. 4 stars all the way through. Having said all this, my own book is about to be released and I am looking forward as well as dreading to see the reviews. I haven’t got an agent checking them out for me to cushion the impact. I have received a few already from the people who Beta-read my book and I am extremely grateful. I am pretty down to earth and well aware that my book is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Therefore, I am bracing myself for the impact. I hope, if you are one of the people about to read my work, you give it a rating and or a review. If you have fallen in love with a book by an Indie Author, rate it and review it. It is a dog eat dog world to try to lift your head up and jump over all the hurdles. If you like the books they have written and want to see more of their work, a rating and review will give them the thumbs up and is very encouraging. I think on behalf of all Indie Authors, we do want reviews, good and bad (but be constructive… as much as I hate to say it but yes better a bad review because there is nothing worse than indifference.)