Last week, Sandy from All About Romance made a blog post about romance reviews. She was speaking specifically about how easy it is to form online friendships between authors and reviewers and how such friendships could produce a review that was not completely honest. I was interested to see it, since I’ve been thinking about reviews with my next book coming out in a couple weeks. I would far rather have an honest review than one that just said vague, nice things.
No author wants a review that goes like this: “This book was awful. The only reason I finished it was because I had to post my review of it. Take my advice and don’t waste your time or money.” This is a prefectly valid opinion of a book, and the reviewer is entitled to his or her opinion. However, a review like that isn’t helpful. As a reader I want to know what it was about the book that the reviewer found so awful. The thing they hated might be what makes me happy. The same goes for a glowing review like this: “I loved this book! I’ll be reading this author again!” To be perfectly honest, I’ll take the good review over the bad one any day, but as a reader I want to know what the reviewer did and didn’t like about a book. It helps me decide how my limited book budget will be spent.
Do you review? I don’t mean just the people who review for a site, but also those who review informally on Good Reads and Amazon and those places. If you read Sleeping With the Wolf or Wolf’s Glory and want to leave a review but hesitate to be completely honest, don’t. Hesitate, that is. If you disliked my book, say so. Please be nice about it. “This book sucked!” may describe your feelings about it, but it isn’t helpful for other readers. “This book started off good but lost steam half way through and I just never got back into the story” or “I didn’t like the heroine. She was too operfect for me to relate to” helps a reader know why it sucked for you.
A reviewer should never have to soften a review so as to not offend an author. Then it’s no longer a review but an ego-stroker. We authors can always use some ego-stroking, but a review may not be the place for it. A negative review can be hurtful, but if the reviewer is honest and resepctful, an author accepts it and moves on.