Monday, June 24, 2019

On Book Reviews

Ask a group of twenty authors their thoughts on book reviews and you’ll hear twenty different answers. Some authors read them, some don’t. Some read them occasionally. A few will only read reviews posted to certain venues. Others will ask their agents and/or editors to scan them and send along those they think the author would want to see. It’s a question of author, know thyself: if a scathing review is likely to send an author into an emotional tailspin, or cause them to self-edit work that a thousand readers will love into something intended to please a single reviewer, the author in question will likely adhere to an avoidance policy. Others are able to step back, take the reviews they receive as a whole—taking both the good and bad reviews in stride—and file them in their mental bank of useful information before moving on.

Every so often, I post my book discoveries on my Goodreads or Bookbub pages. I don’t leave reviews detailing what I liked or didn't like, but I do recommend books I’d give four or five stars. I read anywhere from fifty to a hundred books a year, so I don’t even cover all those. Today I posted about a read I adored, Jordan Harper’s She Rides Shotgun. It was a book I picked up on a whim and ended up blazing through, then recommending to a number of my friends. While I was on the site, I was alerted to recent reviews posted for my own books. It reminded me that, just a couple days ago, I received a question from a reader asking me what I thought about reviews.

My answer: I’m grateful.

I’ve had good reviews and bad. I’ve had reviews that are wildly inaccurate about facts in a story (no, nowhere in the book did it state that Venezuela was located in Spain) and some that were truly insightful (yes, that character probably would have made a comment to her mother on that topic, and I missed the opportunity.) However, whether or not a reader fell in love with one of my stories, I’m always glad they took the time to read and post their take.

The world is full of entertainment choices. Given that we all have a limited number of hours in the day, and a limited entertainment budget, it means the world to me when readers choose one of my books. The time they take to post a review helps potential readers know whether or not one of my stories will fit their tastes. I’ve discovered dozens of authors—and ended up binge reading their entire backlist—after reading a review that resonates with me. Sometimes, it’s even a bad review. There are cases where what one reader hates is just my cuppa.

I don’t comment on reviews—that way there be dragons—but if you’re reading this and left a review on one of my books, please take this as a thank you. I appreciate it.

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