In his post about book reviews, Tim Hallinan points out the pluses and minuses of reviewing. Murder By Type is primarily the work of this amateur who got into the blogging world when I realized that only the top selling authors were afforded publicity support by their publishers. It seemed strange that authors like James Patterson, who now has people co-authoring his books, would have his publishers pay for prime real estate in bookstores when his fans had likely pre-ordered his new book already.
To draw some attention to excellent writers who had no such support, I started Murder By Type. I included a tab that set out my review policy. The bedrock of that policy is that the reviews I write are always positive. I would not want to cost a writer a reader based on my less than positive opinion. That was the straightforward part – read a book, write something that will encourage others to read it, post it in a place where people can find it, and then read another book and start the process over.
When I read reviews on Amazon, I only looked at those which gave the book four or five stars. Knowing why a reviewer thought the book was good was enough information for me to decide if it was one I would want to try. But when I started posting reviews on Amazon I got curious about those reviewers who awarded books one or two stars. When we were in first grade, most of us learned that one star on a worksheet signified to the world that we did really good work so it didn’t make sense that one-star books were so often panned by the reviewer. Why tell people why they shouldn’t read a book? There aren’t enough days to post about the books I thoroughly enjoy.
At the risk of sounding pedantic, I believe that the review of a book is supposed to be about the content of the book, about the story, the characters, the mystery and how the author successfully presents each part. Yet, there are negative reviews posted about books because the reviewer didn’t like the size of the print or the way a book was bound. Some have given books one star because they find a word misspelled. This is where reviews can be far less than straightforward. I know nothing about the publishing industry but are there not proofreaders who would be responsible for that sort of mistake? Blaming the author in a review for that sort of an error makes the review about something other than the story.
If the plot doesn’t make sense, if the characters are one dimensional, if the descriptions are drab and the dialog dull, blame the author. Reviews should entice a reader into a bookstore or a library so a potential fan can scan some pages, read the first page or any page in the middle of the book and, if it strikes a chord, buy it or use your library card. The library is really an author’s best friend. That’s how I discovered Tim Hallinan and his Simeon Grist series.
Writing reviews isn’t easy. There is always the risk of giving too much away. Writing reviews is easy. There is never any difficulty in being enthusiastic about something we really enjoy.
I could never write a book. I admire those who can and I want other readers to admire them, too. Write a review of a book you loved and post it on Amazon. You will find yourself in the company of those who loved the book, too, validating your opinion. Who doesn’t like that?