Hello my Tuesday Scribe’s readers. PJ Sharon, here today talking about reviews.
Reviews come in many forms. You have the all-important “Big Name” endorsement or the Editorial review from some well-known source like RT or Publishers Weekly. And then you have consumer reviews. Summaries and quotes from wonderful readers who take time to go onto Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc, to leave starred reviews. These reviews are essential to leading others to find your books
For some reason, I don’t always listen to movie reviews. I do, however, tend to look to reviews when it comes time to buy books. It matters to me if others have enjoyed the story and the writing. But what about a bad review? A bad review can potentially derail a young career by lowering the author’s starred average and keeping them from being able to advertise on certain sites. Some book review blogs and promotional sites require as many as five, ten, or even twenty, 5 star reviews to advertise on their site.
Let me say I’m happy that so far Heaven Is For Heroes hasn’t had (to my knowledge) a bad review. I had a Publishers Weekly review that was average but neither stellar nor derogatory. I was just thrilled that they actually read and reviewed my book. I’ve been lucky. I know lots of authors who have had bad reviews, and it seems hard for them to get past it. My thinking is that you can’t take anything personally in life. You have to expect that at some point someone will have something negative to say about you or your work.
It’s the risk we take when we put ourselves out there. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but just because you have one, doesn’t make it right. I have to believe that the positive can counteract any negative feedback you get if, indeed, you have a great book.
I’ve recently started to review books and my feeling is that I will only review a book if,
1) I am dying to read it. I have VERY little time to read so I’d better be having a good time. I’m picky about how I spend my reading time.
2) If I like it enough to give it at least four stars.
3) If I have only positive feedback to offer. I don’t want to be responsible for saying anything negative about anyone or their work. If I felt strongly that I could offer the person constructive feedback, I would e-mail them privately or not post a review at all.
I might note as a sidebar that I won’t take points off for typos as much as I’m tempted to. I learned on my first book how hard it is to catch them all. The perfectionist in me who recalls a time when I rarely found a typo, is sad to see the current production of books in the digital world of the flawed spell check and the pinch of having to pay for many layers of editing. There are typos in most books these days, indie and traditionally published.
For today, I wanted to share with you my latest book review. If you haven’t read Renee Pace’s OFF LEASH, you must. It is a wonderful contemporary YA.
OFF LEASH is a story of life and death, dogfighting, and discovering that a best friend, in any form, can save a life. Renee Pace’s debut novel takes you inside the life of poverty in a truly heartrending account of Jay Walker, a fifteen year-old boy saddled with a drug addicted mother and a little sister who’s dying from cancer. Jay’s life is one of desperation and hopelessness until he meets Ollie, a selfless and endearing Boxer that Jay is paid to walk. I don’t want to give the whole story away, because you should definitely read this book for yourself. I fell in love with the characters and found myself rooting for them on every page.
I loved the voice of Ollie in a first person perspective of what life is like for a dog. This sweet, rambunctious canine steals the story. And Jay’s nitty-gritty account of his life and the hard choices he is forced to face, are spot on in their depth and meaning. The way that Pace reveals Jay’s character in many layers throughout his personal journey from boy to man is commendable. I felt like I was at his side from beginning to end.
Speaking of endings, Ms. Pace offers alternate endings for her books which I think is brilliant and I wish I’d thought of it myself. For me, I always choose the Hollywood ending. Although I couldn’t stop myself reading both endings and finding them diverse and poignant. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can’t wait to read more from this author. I’m waiting patiently for her next book in the Nitty Gritty series, OFF LIMITS. To see more of Renee Pace’s books or buy information go to http://www.yabeyond.com/books/renee-pace/
How about you? Do you buy books based on reviews? Do you think it’s okay to trash a book if you don’t like it?