What Does this Author Appreciate in Reviews of My Books and Others?

What Does this Author Appreciate in Reviews of My Books and Others?

Personally, I like reviews, whether for my books or books that I’m considering buying. I can’t speak for all authors, but I can for me. For my books, I don’t have to have all 5-star reviews. It would be nice, but it’s not going to happen as some reviewers refuse to give 5-stars and reviews will vary. That’s normal. What I do like to see in any review is:

  1. Appreciation for the 50-100+ hours that are put into a book with research and writing and hours of editing before sending to an editor and the hours of expanding and correcting after it’s returned
  2. Whether or not a reader liked the book and why
  3.  What the reader especially liked
  4. A review of reasonable length

Among my books, ‘Attending a Ball’ has probably taken the hardest hits as far as reviews. It was a prequel to the original ‘Darcy Chooses’ and the very first fiction I had published when I was still wet behind the ears. Was the First Edition absolutely terrible? No, but it could have been better. However, later editions were improved, and I’m proud of it because it was my first P&P variation, and I tackled it when many others have hesitated to write even their first anything.

When ‘Darcy Chooses Part 1’ was published, after the prequel ‘Darcy and Bingley,’ reviews were again all over the place. One reviewer and her commenter accused me of plagiarism, stealing Jane Austen’s work/words. First of all, copyright on Jane Austen’s works had run out. And who on earth could plagiarize anything by Austen when practically every word she wrote has been memorized by half the planet?  After all, ‘Darcy Chooses’ is a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation. 🙂

‘Darcy Chooses – The Complete Novel’ has garnered some nice reviews and is the longest book I have available. And, then again, some reviewers complained because they got a prequel and the full novel (Parts 1 and 2), and the book was too long. Some people you just can’t please no matter what you do. 🙂

Can I take constructive criticism? Yes, as that helps me become a better writer. How can I improve if I don’t know what a reader dislikes about my book? However, I will own up to growling at some of the reviews when they just seem to be nitpicking the book to death.

  1. You can just attack my book, but that doesn’t help me become a better writer. It also doesn’t help other readers checking out reviews either. And it doesn’t make you look good
  2. If there is something actually wrong in my book, please point it out so it can be corrected. If there is something horribly wrong, please contact me at Gianna@GiannaThomasPandP.com
  3. Legitimate complaints I will not object to. Just treat me the way you would like to be treated.

Goodreads.com is one review site that I’m rather ambivalent about. There one is allowed to do ratings without comments. This really works against any author when a reviewer only rates 1-3 stars with no remarks about why they give such a low rating. This is zero help to the author and to other readers/reviewers who are looking for information about the book. It gives a reviewer the ability to be nasty without being accountable. I find that irritating, and I imagine I’m not the only author that does so.

What I hate seeing in a review:

  1. Lies – One reviewer for another author said her book was a bodice-ripper and full of violence. Out and out lies. The book was so clean it squeaked. BTW Amazon refused to remove it in spite of several complaints of abuse.
  2. Spoilers – I hate when spoilers are mentioned with no warning. The reviewer has just insulted the other reviewers, potential buyers, and me. If you have to do spoilers, mention it ahead of time. And if you tell who the murderer is, I will hate you forever. 🙂
  3. A review on Amazon that goes on without end. For cat’s sake, don’t write a novel—that’s the author’s job—and don’t tell the plot of the whole blasted book. Allow other readers the courtesy of having some surprises.
  4. Nasty, ugly reviews just for the sake of being nasty. Now, that is really a bad character reference for a reviewer who does that.

One other thing that I have seen are reviews that started out ‘UGH!’ That tells me a lot about that reviewer, and it’s not good.

Why are reviews important to an author?

  1. Reviews help us to know where we’re at with our writing. Do the majority of our readers enjoy our books? And are our books basically free of grammar, punctuation errors, etc? Please remember, no book is completely free of errors—Jane Austen’s books have errors—because authors and editors are imperfect people. Don’t nitpick the book to death.
  2. Reviews can affect sales. Good reviews can help with sales; bad reviews can hurt sales.
  3. Reviews are also important if an author is posting his or her books on a number of ‘for sale’ sites. Some sites will not accept a book with less than a 4.0-star rating. That can hurt an author. I think that Bookbub may also take ratings into consideration as well for the books they feature.
  4. Getting a review from a reader that loved the book and spoke of it in glowing terms makes an author’s day. All the hard work, many hours, sleepless nights, and red eyes are validated by a beautiful review.

These are just some of my thoughts. Authors and reviewers, please feel free to add your thoughts about reviews below. And if you disagree with me, I promise not to hate you. 🙂

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22 Responses to What Does this Author Appreciate in Reviews of My Books and Others?

  1. Gianna, thanks for the informative post about writing reviews. I know that I’m guilty of writing a synopsis rather than a review on some books that I have read. I tend not to give poor reviews unless the book is riddled with numerous mistakes in spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation. I thank you and other JAFF authors for writing their wonderful stories.

    • You’re welcome, Carol. It’s our pleasure and JAFF is fun to write. Depending on the book, we might let you get away with a synopsis. Just kidding. We’re delighted that you do reviews. Thank you. Reviews are always helpful. 🙂

  2. I agree with you all the way, Gianna. Excellent post! For me it is the outright lies that bother the most, and I have seen this with the top tier reviewers, yes, even Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus. They often hide the lie behind something cleverly written, as if with a wink and a nod, but a lie is still a lie and should NEVER be allowed, especially from a “professional” reviewer. Average readers on Amazon, etc. should not exaggerate or lie either, but hopefully folks who read those reviews consider the source.

    • Thank you, Sharon. Appreciate your comments. I have definite thoughts about some things, and sometimes just can’t keep my mouth shut. Reviews are not the ‘end all’ but they are important. When they hurt sales when a book doesn’t deserve it is what irritates me the most. Ah, well. It does go with the territory for good or ill. We’ll always hope that it’s mostly for good. 🙂 Thanks again.

  3. In general, I think folks just go from one book to the next and don’t realize how important reviews are for the author. It doesn’t take much to leave a review, especially if you enjoyed the book. Thanks for the reminders.

  4. Keep up the good work. I enjoyed reading your article almost as much as I liked Darcy vs Bingley.

  5. I am not always diligent with writing reviews for my books however I have written reviews for all but one of the 18 Austenesque books I have read so far this year and I post my review on a variety of book store sites as well as Goodreads and my library if they have the book so my review hopefully help someone else decide if they are interested. I also try not to give any spoilers but in my effort to not say to much I probably end up not saying enough. Thanks for sharing your opinion and I have “Attending a Ball” on my Kobo that I just got my nephew to fix so I will hopefully get to read it soon.

    • Good for you, Chelsea. Appreciate your comments, and I’m sure your reviews were appreciated as well. Hope you enjoy ‘Attending a Ball’ also, but please keep in mind it was my first baby and probably the ugly duckling of my ‘kids.’ 🙂

      • I will keep in mind that “Attending a Ball” is your baby when I read it and be sure to not be critical of it, although I already tend to not be real critical of what I read and overlook errors because like you said in your post we are all human and make mistakes.

  6. Thank you for putting out there what you like as an author in a review. Like Teresa, I started doing reviews only last year but have been a voracious reader all my life. Personally, I felt a bit intimidated to put my thoughts out there. I can only imagine the courage it takes to write a book and release it for the world to read and make comments on. However, like all things, to be proficient, one must practice. I also wanted to let the authors know they are appreciated. I try very hard not to put in spoilers as I don’t like to read them myself. Sometimes though, a book just doesn’t resonate or there are editing or plot issues that just jump off the page. I hate giving a poor review and try to word it as nicely as possible. I also will indicate if I have liked prior books from this author before and will state that I will read another. As for those who are nasty, I wouldn’t give them another thought. They are obviously unhappy people and nothing will change their attitudes. But I agree that JAFF readers are picky and I too feel I am one of them.

    • My pleasure, Carole. And, thank you, for recognizing and appreciating the authors’ hard work. Honesty in reviews is needed if an author is going to improve. Like Lady Catherine and Elizabeth both said that practice is necessary. Good for you that you are honest in your reviews and yet are polite with them as well. I love even my picky readers. 🙂

  7. I’ve only been writing reviews for a couple of years even though I’ve been reading since God was a boy. Thank you for posting those tips on reviewing. I’m finding them very helpful. I’m never sure if I’m doing right or wrong in a review but generally I go with my first gut reaction to a book. I NEVER give a bad review just because I can. I appreciate how hard a writer works on their ‘baby’ and to have it panned for no reason must be soul destroying. Just ignore them is my advice. They’re usually small minded gits anyway.

    • Hahahahahaha! Love your comments, Teresa. I will admit, it took a while before I could completely keep my equanimity when reading a bad review. Some authors refuse to read any of their books’ reviews because it hurts too much if there is a nasty one. I can’t blame them at all. For me, though, I do read any and all reviews because I’m working at improving my writing. I wrote non-fiction for decades and found that fiction is way, way different. So, I’m learning a new craft and working to improve at it. Again, thank you for your fun comments. 🙂

  8. I admit to being one of those readers who is hard to please. I do expect a published book to be relatively free of errors. Yes, every book has some errors because people are human; I cannot, however, enjoy a book that, for example, contains the same errors repeatedly, because this is a clear indication that it was not properly edited. Faulty homophones are especially annoying; a favourite seems to be using “discrete” where it should read “discreet.” As you know these two words have discrete definitions! Another error that really annoys me is grocer’s apostrophes: using apostrophes to form plurals. There are a few other common errors that seem quite popular lately (and not just in JAFF, altho’ a large percentage of what I read lately is JAFF or Regency).

    I read not only for the story but for the enjoyment of language. Reading a well-written book is one of life’s great pleasures. On the other hand, poorly edited books make for painful reading and IMNSHO show a distinct lack of respect for readers. I believe that poor editing is a legitimate reason to downgrade a book.

    Where I agree with you completely is when reviewers post spoilers and lengthy synopses rather than actually reviewing a book. And vindictive “reviews,” often containing lies, that are intended to hurt the author for whatever reason. One other point we agree on is that unless a book contains something truly offensive or insulting, the review must be respectful. I am convinced that everybody’s mommy told them about The Golden Rule; unfortunately not everybody was listening.

    I hope all is well with you — like so many others, I look forward to your next work.

    • I can understand your points, Janis, and I agree that discrete instead of discreet is annoying. When doing my part of the editing, I use Grammarly and Spellcheck, plus reading parts of the book aloud—and sometimes the entire book—to catch missing words. However, I’ve found that even taking those steps still don’t catch everything before going to my editor. Bless my editor as she is very good at her job. However, on ‘Darcy vs Bingley’ I handled things differently. I’ve found that writing for about two hours when I first wake up that I seem to free up any blocks, and I get a lot done. However, because it takes about three hours before I’m completely awake, there are more errors I don’t catch. 🙂 I made a further mistake by sending batches of three or four chapters at a time to my editor instead of the whole manuscript. Between the two changes, it was noted that there were new types of errors in ‘Darcy vs Bingley,’ and I need to do things differently if I continue to write this way. And some of the reviews reflected the reviewers disgruntlement. Anyway, it was a great learning experience.

      Back to reviews and what I like to see in any book I read is good character development (I need to like the H and h) and an interesting plot. I’ve noticed that there are more writers of JAFF that English is their second language which can make for some interesting manuscripts. For me, perhaps I can tolerate a little more of poor punctuation and errors so long as there are not several per every page in the book. I can also understand what you would like to get from reading a book as well and totally agree that reviews should be respectful of the author’s feelings even if the review is pointing out problems or of low ranking.

      This was an interesting post to write, and I appreciate your good comments. Thank you for inquiring how I’m doing. Still have a long ways to go health-wise and simplifying my life…mainly the latter. Let too many things go for too long, but I’m getting there slowly but surely. 🙂

  9. Gianna, thank you for the informative post! In order to thank an author, I always leave a review on Goodreads.

  10. I wonder sometimes if this is the most difficult part of being an author. I have never published any of my writing but if I did I believe I would have to develop a much tougher skin than I have as I’ve seen so many people who have stopped writing because of the attacks they receive. It’s a shame places like Amazon don’t do more to combat it especially, as you mentioned, some of the negativity is out and out lies.

    • It certainly can be. A thick skin is a big help especially when the negative reviews don’t seem justified. But…it comes with the territory. As with any endeavor, we just have to persist. And I’m glad I did because I have some of the loveliest readers who have enjoyed my books especially ‘Darcy vs Bingley.’ I had more fun writing that book and yet had more returns than anything else I’ve written even though I made it a point to mention that it was NOT canon. JAFF readers are a tough audience, but I hope I’m up to the challenge. And I’m glad that a number of other authors are too as there are some beautiful P&P variations out there that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a challenging genre but I love it. It’s also gaining in popularity as well which I’m glad to see. Thank you for your comment, sweetie.

Your thoughts are precious!