How to Give an Author Wings

Has your summer holiday provided you with that luxury of luxuries – time to read one book after another, to finish whole books rather than odd chapters before you have to do something important that keeps life on its usual tracks?WP_20150901_10_47_08_Pro

How many books have you read over the summer? One, three, half a dozen?

How many made you want to look for another by the same author?

I love finding an author whose way of writing I enjoy. Sometimes the quality of the writing will carry me even if the story seems mundane. Sometimes the story will carry me even if the writing is a bit clunky. Sometimes the quality of the writing and the story just take me away from where I am and immerse me in the new situation and place that the book is set in – and when I finish I feel withdrawal symptoms –  and that’s when I go hunting for other books by the author.

These books I take the time to pop over to Amazon or Goodreads and leave a review because it’s good to spread the love, let others know what works (despite the plot or the clunkiness) as well as that which transports. You see, I know that a review is worth writing, the author (unless they are mega mega) will read it, they will  take heart and write on.

Give your favourite Author wings

If the author is an Indie (not published by the Big Boys of the publishing world) or even one of those but just starting out, they will be so heartened, happy to see a positive review, that it will give their typing fingers wings and they’ll press on with their latest work in progress. It makes it all worth while.

Give Your Review – not a précis

I have heard some people say they ‘don’t leave reviews because they don’t want to take notes while they are reading’ – it is unfortunate that people have come to think that they have to write those type of reviews, you know the ones that summarise the whole plot – that is a précis; not a review – but has become quite a popular way of doing things – sadly.  Not to forget the ‘spoiler’ element of giving away the plot in this way of ‘reviewing’ – disastrous for a thriller / crime / mystery book!

A review should be the reader’s reaction to the book, how did it make them feel; excited? sad? emotional? enjoyed the ride? What sort of pace was the book ; a page-turner? a steady, building, read? a sorry to come to the end? type book. Would they read another by this Author? Was there something they liked about the writing? Did they learn/gain insight/experience something from reading the book? With a few examples of why the book made them feel that way – if they wish. That would cover it!

But what if the book was one of those that I didn’t like, didn’t get on with. First I remind myself that it may not be the book, it may be me. The most popular and biggest selling books in the world have hundreds of 1* reviews – you cannot please everybody and personal taste comes into this. Then, as an author, I tend not to write a review for anything I’d give less than a 4* or perhaps a 3 – it just feels like bad karma. So almost all my reviews will be those books I got on with fine – all except one which I have to admit to.

Whatever the book – I finish it – and it is the finishing it – that time spent – that drove me to that one 2-starred review. It was for Danielle Steel – yes, I know, well known, best selling author alive (according to Wikipedia), highly rated with tons of books on her list. I wrote my review and explained why I was giving it a low star rating, the points which spoilt the book for me (treating the reader as if they had no memory by repeating every key point multiple times; research-information dumps; dishonest head-hopping) It is the one review that I have written that has garnered likes… many likes. I seem to have hit the nail on the head for many other readers with this one  – but not the die-hard Steel fans – they continue to rave 5* wonderful reviews. Like I say – you cannot please everyone all the time.

It could become addictive.

Each notification of a ‘like’ for that review seems to vindicate my stated opinion, and I know this could become addictive. In fact if you look into two star and below ratings and see what else they have reviewed, you often find that the writer is locked into only giving out bad reviews – almost troll-like. I won’t be writing a low starred review again for a book – even though that author will probably never read it as she is mega mega – I feel bad for her. I know how even a 3* (my only one so far) made me feel – it did not make me think ‘I’ll show them!’ It made me hesitate and wonder if my writing is worthwhile at all – wonder if it is worth the incredibly long time and deep effort that it takes.  This does not make the writer write better or faster, it just builds a wall, of the type commonly known as writer’s block.

But what of potential readers? Surely reviews are to warn people of rubbish as well as to extol?  I agree, then the review needs to explain what it is that didn’t suit the reader in particular in specific terms without revealing the story – then other readers can judge properly whether they are likely to agree with the viewpoint or not. If you enjoyed the story and the way it was told but found errors, in punctuation for example, it doesn’t mean you have to de-star it drastically – even giving it a five-star as a story you can say what you liked about it and add your comment about the punctuation to show you noticed, to tell other potential readers and to alert the author for the future.

The Much Kinder Way would be to see if there is an author contact in the ‘About the Author’ in the back of the book or on Amazon (there often is – maybe as a link to a blog or a webpage) – this way you could start out as a critic and end up as a friend! The author would be happy to receive this privately as they could then make adjustments to the ecopy and the next edition in printing. If you comment  in a review it would remain there forever, even after the corrections were made.

The big boys and girls of the publishing world garner reviews easily – there is a lot of advertising power, and marketing to the big-name reviewers, behind them so they barely notice an actual review – though their publishers will note  the numbers and stars.

A review is worth a lot to the new and the Indie –  you can really make a difference here – so, if you liked the book, give your favourite Authors wings – Review 🙂

Did you have a great reading summer?

Do you review books?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you

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3 thoughts on “How to Give an Author Wings

  1. I confess I find it hard to write reviews, as you well know. I do wish they had more stars to rate them with… I tend to think I need to save a 5* award for something really amazing, so that it is easier to compare books; that one was better than that one… but then that doesn’t work overly well for all the reasons you mentioned. That’s probably why I have read lots but not left a review for some time. When I choose a book I don’t want to see lots of rave reviews; I need honesty if I want to select intelligently … and I know what you have said; it’s the content of the review not the number of stars, but unless you have time to read them all the star system helps… just refer to me as confused.com!

    • Hi Nicky,
      I quite understand where you are coming from on this, and the descriptors for the stars as suggested would have good books as 3stars, yet the way they are actually used means that a 3star is viewed as mediocre. . . tricky. It is strange that as an author and reader I feel more constrained than I did as a reader only, but I do.
      As for reading all the reviews, I will pick a few at each star rating, not only the first in each section, especially those that are liked by other reviewers, and that works for me. Thanks for sharing.
      Ann

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