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01:46 pm: Writing Post Tomorrow

This week’s Wright’s Writing Corner will be out tomorrow.

Meanwhile, what do you all think about reviews on writer’s websites. Do you read them?

I do not currently have a review page or any reviews posted on my site (well, other than one line.) But then, I almost never read reviews that are attached to a book*. So, I didn’t even think of doing so.

* I do reach some reviews of books, but not the kind written on the book or on a website belonging to a book…as one friend put it. “Well, they’re not going to put the bad reviews there, it’s only hype.”

Anyway, a friend suggested a review page and I’m wondering if it’s worth the work. Do you read them?

 


Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon.

Comments

[User Picture]
From:mindyklasky
Date:October 6th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC)
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I don't *write* them. I got into an uncomfortable exchange with a fellow writer, published by my then-publisher, when I posted that I'd liked her book except for the part where... I decided that I'm not in the reviewing business, and I didn't like the way I felt when I was confronted, so I just write very brief, one-sentence comments now, when I list what I've read.

My two cents, discard at will :-)
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:October 6th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC)
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I so sympathize. When I wrote reviews, it was of Japanese cartoons in the long ago dream time before the internet. But when I recall how I used to be caustic to be funny, I cringe.

On the other hand, someone on my flist recently reviewed your first fantasy novel and made it sound really good. ;-)

But I see now that I wasn't very clear as to my question. What I meant to ask was...should I have a page where I list reviews of my books, such as the Publisher's Weekly review?

Do people look for reviews of a book when they go to an author's website? Or do they assume,as a friend does, that the author would only post friendly reviews, so therefore there is now purpose to reading them?

[User Picture]
From:mindyklasky
Date:October 6th, 2010 06:58 pm (UTC)
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Aha! I understand your question now!

I put in one excerpted review (the best I can find) at the top of each book-specific page on my website. I figure that, by taking only an excerpt, I can legitimately avoid negative text that follows the "but" or "however" :-)

Personally, I think it's amateurish, when authors point to every single blog that has mentioned their books.

And consider how your design choices might change, if you end up with a book that the critics don't like (may that never happen to you!) It would look suspicious to have glowing reviews (or even mixed reviews) of everything except the disfavored books...
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:October 6th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
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Interesting points!

My general feeling is that I do not want to have a review page. I have a few reviews I've liked. Occasionally, I blog about them. But my general feeling is that if I went to a website, say yours or another author I know, what I would want to know is: what are her books about? I don't ever feel a desire to know what someone else thinks about them.

But I know this may just be me, so that was why I was asking. When I was in college, I read three or four books that had on them a blurb that read something like "Great book. First time I stayed up reading all night in ten years" by Anne McCaffrey.

After the second or third, I just became convinced that Ms. McCaffrey--an author I loved--was having trouble sleeping, because there was no way that three books could be the first one in a decade.

After that, I never paid any attention to any blurbs on books or cared what they said. I guess I assumed they were kind of made up.
[User Picture]
From:bojojoti
Date:October 7th, 2010 09:46 am (UTC)
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Anne McCaffrey has to be the most generous author in producing one line blurbs of approval for others' books. As a result, I don't give credence to her approval.

However, if someone whose work I enjoy leaves a stamp of approval on a book, I'm apt to try it.

I also run to Amazon to see what the great unwashed masses think about a book. They often like things I detest, but if a book has one star, it's likely I wouldn't care for it either.

I wouldn't want a whole page of reviews, but to have them sprinkled in with other bits pertaining to the book is a very nice perk for readers.

There is so much out there to read, and most of us have limited time; we need guideposts to help us find the way to books we want to dedicate our time to.
[User Picture]
From:mindyklasky
Date:October 7th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
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Blurbs are an interesting type of fiction... There are common keywords and weasel words, and artful blurbers can almost always find *something* positive to say, if they feel obligated to do so.

I'm saddened by the frequency that some authors blurb others; I know that I can't trust certain blurbers, given how they rave about *everything.*
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:October 6th, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC)
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I should add, I really like the short reviews you do of books you've read. Where you say the slightest bit about the genre and whether or not you liked them. They make the books sound so intriguing.
[User Picture]
From:mindyklasky
Date:October 7th, 2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
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::grin::

They're serving their purpose, then :-)
[User Picture]
From:cdenmier
Date:October 6th, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC)

Yes

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I always read reviews--at least portions of them. I'm drawn to a review, even one hand-picked by the author: of course they will be positive, but HOW are they positive? If a reviewers says, "I loved these books! Very much a crossover between X and Y; here is an example..." and I'm a person who liked X and Y, it makes a strong case. I usually go check out an unbiased selection of reviews, as well, but that's neither here nor there.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:October 6th, 2010 07:42 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes

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Thanks. That's good to know. I have a few really nice reviews, but I just cannot tell if anyone cares about them.

I think Mindy's point about some of one's books having better reviews than others is an interesting one.

Would you, as a reader-website viewer, be more interested in a general page of reviews? Or in reviews that were separated and somehow attached to hee books they refer to.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 6th, 2010 11:55 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes

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To answer your question: no, I would not be interested in a general page of reviews on an author website. Part of the purpose of an author's website is to SELL the author's books. Now, I don't mean that in a purely capitalistic, take-no-prisoners way. I mean it in the "I'm passionate about my stories" way.

When I go to an author's website I EXPECT to see positive reviews in moderation (if I see reviews) because I expect the author to believe, genuinely, in their work. The average reader is not a dolt. If they see awkwardly positive reviews, or cut-and-paste reviews on multiple books from the same reviewer, or odd reviews from someone no-name at awesomeaussiebookreviewer.com, then they'll recoil, yes. But on the flip side of the same coin, if they see a long list of all the positive and negative reviews ever given they may get the strange feeling (as I would) that the author isn't being brutally honest but rather really doesn't control the site and have let some auto-feeder go to town.

I don't know if that makes sense. I suppose what I'm saying (again...without experience) is that I expect a degree of confidence on an author's website. You should be proud of positive review--without going overboard--and showcase them.

Just my two cents. I say put some good excerpts on your site.

[User Picture]
From:mindyklasky
Date:October 7th, 2010 03:22 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes

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I would actually second every single word that Anon wrote on this.

Your purpose in creating your website is to promote your books. A reviewer's purpose is to review books.

While those two goals may coincide some of the time, they don't all the time, and I think you do yourself a disservice if you confuse the two missions and consider them identical.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:October 7th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes

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I guess the question is: should I showcase a few reviews that might be useful in promoting the book?
[User Picture]
From:mindyklasky
Date:October 7th, 2010 03:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes

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That's been my solution. I take a one-sentence pull quote for each book, and I put it at the top of that book's web-page. I don't have a separate page for "reviews" on my site; I can't really imagine anyone reading through it!

YMMV, of course...
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:October 7th, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)

Re: Yes

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>I can't really imagine anyone reading through it!


LOL. That is exactly what led me to ask this question. ;-)
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:October 6th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
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As a librarian who writes reviews (and the latest incarnation for us, Shelf Life blogs)* it's convenient to have the reviews on the author's site...particularly if my review directs readers to that site. However, if a writer doesn't do that and I need to check a review to see if it's worth my time, I'll just hit up Amazon.

However, not all the reviews are on Amazon. It's a bit of an arcane process to get them there.
To be thorough, I'd put selected reviews on your site. It will save time when libraries/bookstores need a press release for you before a talk.
[User Picture]
From:arhyalon
Date:October 6th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
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That makes sense.

This was the kind of thing I was wondering...who is it that would look at reviews.
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:October 8th, 2010 10:00 am (UTC)

An update

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Amazon now has an "author" login where you can add your own reviews. However the catch is that you must limit your review excerpt to 250 characters, including their html code. And at that it doesn't go up until a day after you've added it. I just did this for my book, and what was a nice several paragraph review got boiled down to one sentence.
i do not recommend it.
[User Picture]
From:carbonelle
Date:October 9th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)

Re: An update

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I just use one of the magazine indices.
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:October 9th, 2010 09:43 am (UTC)

Re: An update

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Book Review Digest? Do they still publish it?
[User Picture]
From:carbonelle
Date:October 26th, 2010 04:47 am (UTC)

Re: An update

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I have no idea - I was talking about the online databases :-)
[User Picture]
From:juliet_winters
Date:October 9th, 2010 09:44 am (UTC)
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Another thing to consider is a "book trailer." Check out a few on YouTube.
[User Picture]
From:carbonelle
Date:October 9th, 2010 06:23 am (UTC)
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Not any on the author's website, that's for sure!
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