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Monday, September 15, 2014

The Importance of Book Reviews

Every Sunday our local newspaper has a Books page with reviews and articles about new books and their authors. That page always brings me pleasure and good suggestions for new stories to read.

Goodreads.com is a great place to find out what other readers like about the books they've read. Authors always hope for the magic 5 star review, every time, but that's not realistic. Not everyone will like a book. The subject matter will not resonate with everyone, the language, the plot, the setting - not everyone likes the same stories. That's why I love the Goodreads rating system.

If I recall, 3 stars is for "I liked it." Four stars "really liked it." Five stars are "It was amazing." That's the scale I use to explain my review, regardless of where I leave it. As an author, I don't mind receiving a three star rating. Now, if I get the dreaded one star (I didn't like it) or a two star review (it was okay) - well, I would like to know why. I respect reader insights and keep them in mind for the next story. But the fact is, not everyone likes the same books.

So, I read the comments. If a reader likes the characterization but not the setting, I'll probably read it anyway because I like a character driven story. If they feel the characters are one dimensional then I probably won't enjoy it. But, it's not just the character that makes a story appealing to me. If the setting is vividly described and makes me smell the salt in the air, I love it. Readers want to be a fly on the wall, they want to "be there." That also makes a good book for me. A compelling story that will hold my attention - well, I'll be missing sleep over that one.


Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com are also great places to get review information. It's a great way to share your experience with other readers. Some local bookstores post reviews, as well. With the economy being so tight, the market for books being flooded, how does the reader know what book to spend their hard earned money on? Reviews.

We writers are readers and we want to know what works in our stories. We want people to enjoy our work. Take a few moments to share your experience. Even if you're not a writer, just a short sentence that says whether you liked (i.e. I liked the characters, they seemed real to me)  I didn't like a story (i.e. the characters seemed flat, unrealistic, but I liked the descriptions). There's usually something you like, even if you don't like it overall. Let the author know what they did right and let the reader know your experience. It's hard to write a book and even harder to read the reviews, because you can't please everyone.

Write for yourself. Read for yourself. Share your experience. You'll be glad you did. Enjoy the journey!

Bonnie Tharp’s novel, Feisty Family Values was published by Five Star Publishing in hardback and released in February 2010. Patchwork Family was released in paperback by Bell Books Publishing in March of 2014. You can find out more about Bonnie & her books at http://bdtharp.com.

2 comments:

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

As you point out, most of us who write are also readers. I know I started to write at a young age because I was inspired by the books I read as a child. The ones I liked made a great impression on me. I still enjoy reading and am pleased when I find an author whose work is new to me that I like. I don't write negative reviews, but I will review books I have enjoyed reading.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Not everyone's review is kind and while I don't think all reviews can be good, if the review reveals a deficit in the story it's good info for the writer. How the review written is the key. It's the difference between critic and criticism. Pointing out good points, too, will help round out the review.