If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our April author interviews: Perennial author Susan Wittig Albert--4/5, Sacsser Hill, horse racing insider--4/12, English historical, cozy author, TE Kinsey--4/19, Debut author, Susan Bickford--4/26.

Saturday Guest Bloggers in April: Heather Baker Weidner (4/1), Christina Hoag (4/8), Susan Boles (4/29). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 4/15--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 4/22--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Writing Book Reviews

I love it when people come up to me and tell me they read my bridge book and really enjoyed it. They will often speak about a particular thing they found useful. I always thank them, and recently I have been asking if they would be willing to write a review on Amazon.

Regardless of what answer they give, it doesn’t much happen.

I got to thinking about my own behavior and I realized I’m as guilty as they are. If I see an author whose work I enjoy, I make an effort to tell them. We all like praise. And sometimes I will drop an author a quick note to express my appreciation. What I haven’t done is spend the effort to write a positive review of their book. Not that I broke a promise to write a review, but I haven’t been proactive.
I’m changing that. I’m not about to start writing long book reviews—it’s just not my thing—but now whenever I rate a book good or excellent (Amazon four or five stars) I am going to write a quick review and post it.

How long Amazon will let me do this is up in the air, since they have been deleting some authors’ 
review of other authors’ work. I’ve read blogs about this and still don’t understand their reasoning, and I’ve decided I don’t much care to understand. I’ll just do my thing. If Amazon stifles my opinions, I’ll find somewhere else to express them.

I’ve decided I won’t post negative reviews. I made this decision not for fear of retaliation, but because I have learned some stuff I think is crap others really love. I don’t want to stand between writers and their readers; I do want to promote writers whose works I enjoy and help them find a larger audience.
What do you think: have I hit upon a reasonable compromise about reviews, or am I way off base?

~ Jim


Yolanda Renee said...

I used to be better at doing reviews, for some reason I thought if I wrote for others, they would follow suit. Did not happen. I've sent free books and was promised reviews that never came, in fact a few folks won't even answer my emails. I understand, really if they dislike the book how hard writing a review can be, but a personal note just to let me know one way or the other would be so appreciated, but no response - NONE - is just wrong.
I won't give negative reviews on amazon either - if I can't give it 4 to 5 stars, it's not worth it.
Although it's hard to quarrel with strangers when my own family is even worse! LOL
I admire anyone who can get friends and family to participate in the marketing of their work, because I CAN'T! Family ignores me better and more often than anyone else.
I really wish I was one of those creative people with no personal connection to the product, it would be so much easier than this constant questioning. Everyday I find a new reason to doubt myself, and then the muse appears and I'm back doing what I love -- but doubt the validity of -- such a quandary!
Viva the artistic life!!!! :)

Alyx Morgan said...

I can see the reasoning behind not writing negative reviews, but I don't quite agree with it. Yes, there are those who might thoroughly enjoy something that you couldn't even finish, but there are others who would benefit from your perspective.

I've fallen "victim" to reading books that I didn't enjoy simply because they're considered classics & "everyone" thinks they're worth reading. I would've enjoyed seeing a different opinion about them, so that I wouldn't have wasted my time on those books.

You don't have to be mean-spirited in your negative reviews, but simple phrases like "Pacing was too slow." or "Solved the crime by page 50." can help someone decide, especially if they've seen other comments by the same person & have agreed with past book reviews.

Gloria Alden said...

I agree with you about not writing negative reviews, Jim. I'm of the old school "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." - at least for the whole world to read.

I also tend to procrastinate about about writing good reviews on Amazon, too. I have several books near my computer that I want to give very positive reviews for. Hopefully, this will be the week I finally get around to doing it.

Gayle Carline said...

Getting reviews is a problem. I think that a lot of readers feel like they have to say more than "I liked this book" and put too much pressure on themselves to give some kind of analytical review of what they liked. As far as negative reviews, I personally don't mind them if the reader tells me exactly what they didn't like. I have to say, my short story on Amazon didn't start selling until I got a one-star review that was truly useless (the reader was mad that it was a short story and claimed it was written by a 10th grader). So I'm grateful for that one star.

Anita Page said...

Jim, I feel the way you do about not writing negative reviews, and for the same reason. As for Amazon (aka The Evil Empire), who knows why they're killing reviews by writers.When I post reviews there, and I haven't done that many, I also post to B&N and Goodreads.

VR Barkowski said...

I used to review books on Amazon (I still review on Goodreads) but even prior to the great "sock puppet scandal of 2012," I deleted my sixteen years of my Amazon reviews because I was disgusted with the glut of crony-generated and paid for comments. (One example: authors who bribe readers. Give me a review and I'll enter your name in a drawing for a gift certificate/Kindle/Nook/my first born). How anyone can see this as anything but buying reviews is beyond me—but no matter.

Fact is, we don't all enjoy reading the same thing. Reader book reviews shouldn't condemn or exalt, they should guide OTHER readers to books they will hopefully enjoy. I am a strong advocate for writing honest reviews, and if that means two or three stars, so be it, but that mild or weak review *must* come with an explicit explanation of why. A cogent, candid two-star review is far more likely to sway me to try a book than a gushing five-star tribute.

Example: if a reader is looking for an escape read and is clear s/he rated a book low because it was "too dark and psychologically intense," I'm heading to my nearest bookstore, credit card in hand.

Personally, I think it's hubris for any reviewer (writer or reader) to believe their opinion matters so much that they can't be [tactfully] honest. If all reviewers limit their reviews to the positive, then what's the point of reviews?

E. B. Davis said...

I wrote a similar blog about six months ago. As much as I read and I rarely post reviews--not good or fair of me. I too think that you should only post reviews for those books you recommend. Forget about negative reviews, somehow they will bite you. Now--try to follow through--with our time limitations, it's a trick. Do the best you can. Good luck, Jim.

Elise M Stone said...

Last year I set a goal of posting a book review every other week to my blog, with substantially the same review copied to Goodreads, Amazon and B&N. Unfortunately, as I kept up with writing deadlines, it started taking me longer than two weeks to read a book and the time I would have spent writing the review I needed to revise and edit my novel, so I stopped doing them mid-year. Perhaps your idea of doing shorter reviews would work for me.

I'm in the honest review camp. As a reader, I want to know the good and the bad about a book before I buy it. I am not in favor of the 1 or 2 star reviews with no comment. They're meaningless. But I do appreciate a negative review that tells why a reader didn't like a book.