Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

The Reviewer’s Curse

on 15/05/2016

As some of you may have noticed, I read a lot and review a lot. Not as much as some people, but I have been approached by several authors and publishers for reviews, and am starting to refuse, simply because I am now swamped with books of all genres.

Writing a one line review is really easy to do, and need not be any proof the reviewer has actually read the text. I somehow believe I should do in-depth reviews whenever possible, out of respect for the author’s time and effort.

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As an author myself, I also know how much it takes out of you to put your story out there and wait for reactions. The wretched star system is no help either, as the fast-tracking brain of the modern customer processes the visuals and the maths, and then fails to read the review itself. I’ve gotten and read 3-star reviews which were far more complimentary than some higher ranking.

I have read some stories which had merit, but the editing was done so badly that it affected the enjoyment and even proper understanding of the story. If possible, I contacted the author and explained, not wishing to post a bad review for a good story, badly executed due to time or finances. In the process, I have also discovered some really unprofessional editing services and their money scams, feeding on the dreams of prospective writers.

Things are never that simple though. I have also read novels which had phenomenal first chapters, which entice you and are visible in kindle samples, after which the books follow through awfully, with typos, grammar issues, timeline glitches and overall sloppiness. Such authors obviously took the free first-chapter editing sample service, and then decided that was enough. This way the editor and reader both got cheated out of time and money.

Great covers, by the way, do not promise good stories. And vice versa.

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And then there are books which have so many issues you just can’t get past them. Mind you, don’t think I consider my own books perfect. Far from it. When I review, I review as a reader.

But when you read a simple children’s book, and by simple I mean the language level, which is swarming with basic grammar errors, approximately 5 of them on each page, you just don’t review. To be honest, you rarely read through. And I love children’s books.

What do you do when you read an adult novel which makes you leave it after three pages, because every single paragraph starts with ‘And then…’? Or a poetry book so badly formatted that there are no poem breaks and the titles are the same font and size as the verses, without any introduction or a note about the author? What would you do? Review or not to review?

I choose not to. Trashing people will not fix their books. Feeding on their failures will not improve anyone’s lives.

Would it be fair to warn potential readers? I learned it wouldn’t. There are readers who would go through the iffy children’s book not even noticing the mistakes, but loving the illustrations. Trust me – I’ve talked to them. There are readers who say poets can format their books any way they want, so who am I to say it’s bad. (I write poetry, too, by the way.) There are readers who believe novels using words longer than 4 syllables are too wordy and their authors arrogant. Go figure!

Ultimately, I review when I feel it is worth it. My 3 stars are rare, but mean the book is worth reading. My 4 stars mean the book is really good, with some tiny glitches. My 5 star reviews mean I was impressed with a character, setting, plot or language, or everything. Here, on the blog, I skip stars and just write what I think. After all, it is just what I think about a book.

What do YOU think about the books you read? Do you rate and review?

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PS: I am grateful to anyone who reviews a book. Even mine. Especially children’s books. It means a lot. Thank you.

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One response to “The Reviewer’s Curse

  1. Great article, Anita. I only review books I like. If I don’t like a book for any reason, I don’t read it. My time is valuable and I don’t read it if I don’t get enjoyment from it. However I do always review and because I liked the book enough to read it in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

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