Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Reviews

I'm reaching that point in pre-release state where reviews will start to trickle in. This is always a scary time, but so far, things have been good. Explaining why reviews mean so much to authors is difficult because it's one of those things that can't be quantified into sales. In other words, no one can prove that great reviews lead to higher sales. So why do we agonize over reviews so much?

I think it's a combination of a lot of things:

1. We still believe the reviews will effect sales. I mean, there must be people out there who read a negative review and don't buy the book. One lost sale is not just one sale. One lost sale that might have loved the book and told ten friends and then they told ten friends, etc. could actually translate into hundreds of lost sale. Yikes!

2. We are so scared that people won't like our work and place too much importance on the reviews. After all, someone already published the book. It's probably not 100% stinky or no one would have bought it, right? God I hope so. I like to think that for every book I don't like, there are still thousands of people that the book is the best thing they've ever read.

3. Good reviews validate that we are writers and can really write. Now why we're looking for validation from a bunch of people who usually aren't writers or industry professionals, I don't know.

I think the whole thing boils down to fragile ego. Our books are part of us - our feelings, our thoughts - and when people put them down, it's personal no matter how hard you try not to let it be.

And that makes any artistic pursuit (in my opinion) the hardest jobs of all.

10 comments:

Tori Lennox said...

I pretty much disregard reviews. They rarely agree with me. *g* I prefer word of mouth from my friends who may have actually READ the book or from reading excerpts myself.

Jana DeLeon said...

I'm with you, tori. I don't really "listen" to reviews either when it comes to what I buy. But I definitely take recommendations from friends!

Anonymous said...

I don't know about reviews because I am just a reader but I like letting authors know when I enjoy their books personally myself.
I had not heard of you before so got your name off fresh fiction I think. Anyway I will have to read some of your books as I could use a good laugh facing surgery and being in a wheelchair for 6 to 8 weeks afterward. Those look like they could lift my spirits.
Jane Squires jrs362@hotmail.com

Anonymous said...

I am a reviewer and am offended by your #3 comment. Reviewers are professionals and writers as well. You forget reviewers are also readers. And readers are the ones who put their hard earned money down to buy your books. Reviews give you free advertisement on websites and your books reach millions of readers this way, readers who might spend their money to buy your books. To say and I quote you "Now why we're looking for validation from a bunch of people who usually aren't writers or industry professionals, I don't know." is just wrong. If reviews were not needed and respected by publishers, then they would not take the time and money to send books to reviewers. I think you need to have some more respect for the reviewers out there. Remember we are readers first and we choose which books we want to buy and read. Thank you from a Proud Professional Reviewer

Jana DeLeon said...

Hi Jane - Best of luck facing your surgery!!! I hope you recover quickly. :)

anon - Are you always so easily offended?????? I think you miss my point. There is a huge proliferation of so-called blog reviewers who have no technical training, no industry connections, and on a regular basis publically trash the hard work of other people. All I am saying is that it is really in the best interest of writers to ignore reviews since everyone seems to have a different opinion on what they like.

I have plenty of respect for reviewers with established credentials. My Top Pick from Romantic Times, as well as my Reviewers Choice nomination were the highlights of RUMBLE'S release. And there are many other sites I respect as well.

But there are some I don't.

Anonymous said...

Jana-I am not a blog reviewer and review for a respectable website and have technical training, college education and never trash writers. I guess since you think, and I quote you “it is in the best interest of writers to ignore reviews since everyone seems to have a different opinion on what they like." you really should take your own advice and ignore reviews of your books and not list reviews of your books on your website. Do you think maybe I would feel offended and used if one of those reviews that you say should be ignored is on your website?

Anonymous said...

I also review for a very respectable review company. I hope people are not ignoring my work, as I spend a lot of quality time reading and writing up reviews. Many NY publishers respect my work and never asked me for a resume or credentials. I think they were happy to have a reader give her opinion on the works, since it would be readers who would be purchasing the books.

One thing I love about this industry is that a degree is not needed to know what is a good piece of work. When a reader picks up a book they don’t ask themselves if they have the credentials to decide if they liked it or not. They read the book and then decide if they will ever buy from that author again. If they loved the book they tell their friends. Their friends don’t ask them for their professional credential before hearing what they have to say. Many of your readers don’t have a professional degree’s and can still decide if they liked your work.

I wrote up many quality reviews when I was in high school. Now, I have a respectable four-year degree, but I don’t' believe that my degree makes me a professional. Quite a few NYT Best-selling authors don't have degrees, nor have ever attended a collage. In my opinion, a degree and credentials doesn’t make an author, reviewer or reader any better than another.

After getting and paying for a four-year degree, I believe that degrees are overrated. I'm was a strong and intelligent person ever before I went to university and I now own a successful company where I don’t use any of my university knowledge. I should have just skipped the university and the massive loans that came with it. I could have been just as successful without it.

Jana DeLeon said...

I refuse to argue any longer. The reality is - reviews can be painful to authors if they are spiteful and I know people who have quit writing over bad reviews or bad contest comments. One person's opinion should never effect someone's career choice, and can't unless you let it.

And I never said anything about a college degree. I have one in accounting - which contributes absolutely nothing to what I write, so I fail to see the connection.

And just because you review for a respectable site and don't trash writers, are you seriously telling me you don't know that others do just that and take great pleasure in it. If my comment doesn't apply to you, then ignore it. But all the protests are tiring and unnecessary.

After all, my blog is MY opinion, and I'm entitled to that. You're doing exactly what I'm telling writers to stop doing - getting offended by comments that don't matter.

Anonymous said...

I still see you failed to comment on that even though you tell others to ignore reviews you still have them on your website. You use other's work (their reviews) on your website to sell your work all the while you tell others to ignore reviewers as they are unprofessional. Yes, it is your blog and you are entitled to your opinion but if you didn't want others' opinion's on your blog you shouldn't have it were we can comment on what you write!

Jana DeLeon said...

Gee, I'm sorry I missed commenting on one of your thousand points. I DO have a day job which I am getting ready to leave for, so pardon me if I don't have hours to formulate responses.

I post reviews because it is an industry accepted standard and my publisher prefers that I do so. And I believe I already discussed, but you obviously didn't listen, that I DO HAVE AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF RESPECT FOR LEGITIMATE REVIEW SITES AND PUBLICATIONS.

However, if you are as entrenched in the industry as you claim, then you ought to know about the mini-war going on right now between blog reviewers and writers.

What I find amusing in all of this, is that reviewers are allowed to judge, criticize and question the choices authors make in their work, but apparently authors are not allowed to have an opinion on reviewers comments at all?

 
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