Book Reviews – Read or No?
Saturday is the perfect time to wander through the stacks (that’s librarian-speak for “bookshelves”) and talk about books and the people who write them. Pull up a comfy chair and settle in, because today I want to chat about book reviews – how much stock I put in them when choosing my next book, if I give them out after reading a book, and how the rules are different for writers when it comes to reading reviews of their own work.
Personally, I never read the reviews of a book I am planning on reading, nor do I make up my mind on whether or not to read a book based on a written review. Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t picked up a book because someone I know personally has recommended it to me – sure, that’s happened multiple times. But I generally don’t put that much faith in the recommendations of strangers. There’s just too many variables unknown for me to place much faith in their reviews: what type of books do they usually enjoy? What was going on in their life when they were reading this book? Are they the type of person to hate read a book and then leave a review?
It can get messy and unreliable fast.
I also rarely give reviews after reading books. I will often rate books (1-5 stars on Goodreads, for example), but I almost never leave a written review explaining that rating. This I’d attribute mainly to me being a writer myself. You see, I don’t want my review to come off as professional critique when it’s merely a matter of personal preference, nor do I want other potential readers of mine to look at a review I’ve written and try and use that to judge my own books!
This dovetails nicely into the idea of writers reading their own reviews. I, personally, do. I read every review on my books (so far). Even then one star reviews. Especially the one star reviews. Why? I’m interested. I didn’t write the book to not know how it made people feel after all. But the cardinal rule for authors to remember is they cannot respond to reviews. Step on that urge to defend or define your work and just DON’T. Silently observe. Don’t offer a response. The review space is not for you.
If you’re interested in seeing what kind of reviews folks are leaving on my work, I’ve got great news for you: Hungry is the Night is now available for preorder on all major ebook platforms and the reviews are coming in hot! Visit the link here to order your copy in advance and, if you send a copy of your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org, I will send you back an exclusive excerpt of the book! Three full chapters of fiction for you to enjoy!