Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Thoughts on Reviews

Reviews are the one thing that every author both dreads and craves. We want to know that people are enjoying our work, but we also fear that no one's going to like it, that we didn't do our job well.

A lot of authors I know don't read their reviews. For them, it's less stressful, and as many people often say, the reviews aren't really for the author anyway, they're for the other readers. If an author wants constructive criticism, they need to rely on their beta readers, not on reviewers.

However, I read every review I find, and this post is just kind of my way of explaining why.

First off, understand that I'm entirely too neurotic to NOT read a review. If I know it's out there, I have to know what was said. It would drive me insane not to. I read the good ones, I read the bad ones, I read the ones that are just downright puzzling. Because I want to know what people did and didn't like. I want to know if people are following on the journey I tried to take them on. If they're finding places that don't work for them, that means I didn't accomplish all that I wanted to.

Second, I read reviews because every person that writes one has taken the time to stop and read my books. Even as speedy as I read, that's a minimum of three hours of their day, and for most people it's a lot more time than that.

Then, on top of that time spent, they took the time to stop and think about what I wrote. And this goes beyond just "did I like it, or didn't I?" They have to think about why they liked it, or didn't. What elements appealed to them? What places dragged on? Which characters had them cheering, which ones fell flat?

If you've never tried to write a book review, the reading that you do to form one is totally different than reading just for pleasure. It's work! It's hard to pin down the minute details of a story, hard to see the trees for the forest. You have to think about a book like a puzzle, and decide what pieces were missing, which ones locked together tightly, and which ones were just a little warped.

I figure, if someone has gone to all that work, then the least I can do is read what they've written. I mean, they took the time to read 80,000 words of mine, to analyze it, to put into words their thoughts on it. I owe them the time it takes to read 500 words of theirs. Doesn't matter if it's a glowing review, or the worst one I've ever gotten. A reviewer's time and effort should be respected.

I don't comment on reviews, typically. Like I said, they're not written for me. They're written so that other readers have a chance to say "Hey, I might like that" or "nah, I'll pass." In this tight economy, I can appreciate having a system in place to help people decide where to pass on their money.

And really, arguing with someone over their opinion is a bit ridiculous. That's like arguing with someone who says they like salty better than sweet. There's no logical basis for an argument like that.

So I don't comment, but I do read, because I think I owe a reviewer that much respect. There we are. My feelings on reviews in a nutshell.


J-9 said...

I just review your first book A devil in the Details last week and I have been looking for a way to email you about an author interview request (I cannot find a contact section on your website....perhaps I am blind). Please feel free to email me at j-9-books (at) hotmail (dot) com and check out my review of your book at
I look forward to hearing from you



K.A. Stewart said...

Sending you an email now! Thanks for the review!