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Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest Blog: Marika Weber: One Reviewer's Take

I want to thank Romance Books R Us for having me on the blog today. It’s really an honor. Most people don’t want a reviewer on their blog much less having them talk about reviews.

Okay, right to it…a little background on myself. I live in East Texas, raised in Dallas, married with one son in 1st grade and work an EDJ. I used review for Night Owl Reviews and The Romance Studio. I still review for CBLS and The Forbidden Bookshelf. I also have a review blog that I update regularly. Why the information about me? To let you know, that I’m a real person, with a real life and real everyday issues. I’m not a god, a fairy, or an ogre. I bleed just like you do. Why the dramatics about me? I have some things that I want to talk to you about reviewing and what goes through my mind when I’m reading a book for review.

1. I get to pick the books that I review. Well, I do and I choose books/authors/publishers that I normally don’t read or know much about. I pick books that are way out of my comfort zone. When I decided to review, I decided that I wouldn’t read books or authors that I was comfortable with. In the year that I began reviewing, I have found authors, genres and publishers that I seek out on a regular basis. I have been given books to review from authors for my blog and again, I follow the same guidelines if I was reviewing it for one of the sites that I review for.

2. When I review a book, I look for the following: plot (does it hold my interest), characters (do I even like them), flow (am I having to start and stop all the time) and lastly, did the characters connect emotionally and was it believable?

3. When writing a review, I don’t give out spoilers, the ending, the conflict, nor do I give out plot points. I will however, talk about what I did like about the book and what I didn’t. I hate when book review blogs from individuals give you a dissertation on the book. I mean, why buy the book in the first place? The blog already told you everything that you needed to now and more. This is becoming more and more commonplace with so many people reviewing books on their blogs and it really pisses me off. I have books on my Nook that I bought that sadly, I’ll probably never read because of it. Grrr…

4. Also, if you get a bad review, just remember, its only ONE reviewer’s opinion. Some people are going to love your stuff and some won’t love it. Reviewing is subjective and therefore, should be taken with a grain of salt. That said if the review is snarky and/or down right rude and mean, please, please let the review coordinator/owner know. That should not be tolerated at all. That does happen and it puts all reviewers in a bad light.

5. Lastly, why do I review? I review because I love to read. Period. Some reviewers crave the power they have over an author but for me that’s the wrong reason to review. I review for the simple pleasure of reading and then telling people why I liked it.

If you’re an author, tell me some of your experiences good or bad with reviewers. No names, please. If you’re a reader, what do you look for in a review? I’ve listed below links to where I review to check me out. I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo: Flickr: mamjodh's photostream


Tina Donahue said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain the process, Marika. It helps authors greatly to know what a reviewer/fan is looking for in their work. :)

Liz said...

Hey Marika!
thanks for this...
Personally I've been on the receiving end of glowing and lukewarm reviews both. And one (for my choose your romance novel The Tap Room that was somehow both at once...weird). Anyway, as a writer you just learn not to let it get to you. It will at times paralyze you just like rejections do but you get past it.
thanks for your honest outline of how you do your job!
p.s. gooooooooooooooooooooooal!

Harlie Reader said...

Thank you Tina and Liz. It is a process but guess what its an easy process. It still burns me when a reviewer takes it too far. Ooooo!

I learned reviewing from the best...TRS and what Tina taught me, I still use every day.


p.s. betcha babe!

Harlie Reader said...

Happy Holidays to everyone, too. I'm actually stuck at work today. :(

Rachel Firasek said...

Marika, I review too. And as an author, I'm always told it's a no-no. But, I think it should be an absolutely. Like you, I don't like a synopsis by the reviewer--that's what the blurb is for. I just want to know what worked and what didn't. As an author, each review I receive helps me determine where I succeeded and sometimes, where I failed. Great post!

Harlie Reader said...

Thanks Rachel. Reviewing is subjective and I try to find something good in a book, even if I didn't particularly care for it.

I also think that authors reviewing is a good thing. :)

Leagh said...

I look for the same things in a review, plot, characters, flow, and whether is is believable. I also like to pay attention to the progression of the relationship and how believable that is as well.

The difference between me and you I always try to review in genres, authors, publishers that I know that I enjoy. I feel this is important to me because if I know the book doesn't interest me I don't feel like I can give my honest opinion.

Oh and it pisses me off beyond belief when a reviewer bashes the author personally. Just because they write a book that you don't like or agree with DOES NOT mean they are a bad person and DOES NOT mean that you should never try anything by them.

And absolutely DO NOT review a book if you have not read it, and DO NOT write a review based on anything other then the books contest.

Ok ~ end rant, lol

Thanks for the post!

Harlie Reader said...

Leagh you are too much. LOL! :)

Frank said...

Hi, Marika!! Thanks for sharing a reviewer's perspective! As a reader (but very infrequent reviewer), while I sometimes appreciate a "blurb" like intro for the book, I don't need a complete re-telling of the plot--what I really want in a review is why the reviewer liked or didn't like the book. If the reviewer is articulate, that helps me decide whether the book is one I would enjoy, whether or not my tastes completely align with the reviewer's. Reviews that say, "LOVED it!" or "It was the worst book I have ever read!" but don't say WHY are completely unhelpful.

And truly, reviewing well is a gift--it's not easy to summarize one's feelings about a book in a way that makes sense for someone else to read. It's why I *don't* review--it's hard! :)

Molly Daniels said...

Merry Christmas Marika:) It does take a special person to give an honest, unbiased review:)

I've only received a few good reviews, so it's nice to have insight for what they look for!

And for me personally, the sign of a great book is when I'm sucked in to the story and it takes a natural disaster to pull me away. Or angry children's voices, lol!

Katalina Leon said...

Wonderful post Marika, its good to hear what a reviewer is looking for. I learn something from every review I get, and it helps shape the next book.

Eden Bradley-Eve Berlin said...

Thank you for this blog post, Marika!
As an author, I hate it when a reviewer gives an entire synopsis of the book-that's not a review. And I really hate when they give away secrets the reader should discover as part of the journey.
I'll take a review with some negative, constructive criticism-I know I'm not perfect and sometimes a reviewer will point out a weakness in a book, so I'm more conscious of what not to do next time-although sometimes it's just a momentary slip, or maybe I was sick while writing a book-it happens.
Of course, I LOVE when a reviewer loves a book. I love when someone tells me one of my books made them cry. I'm not a sadist (well, maybe under the right circumstances...*G*), but to know I've touched a reader that deeply is why we do this.
I've had several reviews where the reviewer attacked me personally-there's one on Amazon that really galled me. You can hate a book I wrote all you want, but don't tell me I'm stupid, a bad person, or 'wrong' about a subject that's entirely subjective or a paranormal element that doesn't even really exist.
I even got a 'how dare you' review once because I failed to reclaim the word 'vagina' in an erotic novel for all the feminists out there. I'm sorry-'vagina' is a clinical term-that's like saying 'he stroked her epidermis'. Just not erotic!
Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin :)

Frank said...

Oh, and um, sorry--Marika--that's me, using my husband's account...


RG Alexander said...

Great post!

Harlie Reader said...

Fedora...I kinda figured it out with the family picture. Which is lovely, btw.

Molly...Merry Christmas to you too. :)

Katalina...I hope that every author feels that way when they read a review.

Eden/Eve...I worship at your feet and you know it. I'm so glad that you stopped by. I agree with what you said. There is no need to attack the author. This isn't a school yard and there is no need for fighting or slinging mud. You know that you can report "bad" reviews to Amazon and B&N and they will take them down? Most people don't know that but they will. Really...they wanted vagina out? That's stupid. :)

R.G. I'm excited you stopped by. :) Glad you liked the post, too. Most people don't understand what goes through the mind of a reviewer and when they found out, they are surprised.

kittykelly28 said...

Yeah I've read some reviews recently that really pissed me off. One started off by saying I'm not really into erotica (then why are you reviewing it?) and I haven't read the first book in the series and then proceeded to complain about world building. That was done in the first book that you were to lazy to read. That really pissed me off. THis author did make refferences to the first book ni the series throughout the second one but you wouldn't know that because you didn't read it. That is probably what pisses me off more than ever and then at the end they said they didn't like the authors style and wouldn't read anymore books by them. WTH really? After one book? Well guess what I don't like your review style because it's pointless and rude so there...

Sorry I took after Leagh and went into rant mode. lol :) I try really hard to be subjective when I review but I tend to read stuff I like so all my reviews are good. And if there was something I really didn't like (would give it less than 3 out of 5). Then I email the author directly and let them know.

KittyKelly AKA The Smutty Kitty

Harlie Reader said...

Hey Kitty! I've read reviews like that to and its definitely a head scratcher. If I'm reviewing say book 2 in a series, I will go and buy book 1, read it and then read book 2.

Some people are just TSDL. LOL!

Thanks for stopping by.


Adele Dubois said...

Marika--Thanks for saying what I sometimes think--that it's unnecessary to rehash the entire plot summary in a review.

I think it's interesting that you try to move outside your comfort zone while reviewing.


Regina Carlysle said...

Have to say that generally I get pretty good reviews. I DID however have a reviewer give me a bad one because my heroine served lasagne. She said she just couldn't get past that because she hates lasagne so damn much. Think I'll stick with steak and chicken in the future.

Harlie Reader said...

I want to thank everyone who came out and commented yesterday. I'm always nervous that no one will show up and comment. Since I'm not a writer but a reviewer, some people don't like to talk with us because they have gotten burned in the past.

The #1 thing to remember...reading, writing and reviewing is all subjective. Don't let it get you down when someone doesn't love your book. For some writers the review that was received will only make them stronger writers.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and may you get everything you wanted for the holidays.


C. Zampa said...

I'm late, late, Harlie.

Enjoyed your post. I've received the good and the bad in reviews for my book.

Who doesn't love a good one? And the bad? If they explain why they didn't take to it, I'm okay with that. I love the feedback, as long as it's honest and not malicious. It is, after all, opinion. And---just as I don't like every book I read---I can't expect everyone to like my book, either.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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