Friday, August 7, 2020

Reader Reviews: Do They Matter?

As a reader you might think that your opinion of a book or short story you’ve read doesn’t matter, but you’d be wrong. Not only does your opinion matter to the author but it matters to other potential readers as well. Writers who can’t build a readership because they remain unknown are likely to become discouraged and stop writing. So if you do respect and/or enjoy a book or short story, voice your opinion. Give that writer some encouragement and publicity. Amazon is one place to do it and so are Goodreads and Library Thing. But there are many other sites as well. 

 For those authors who are published in print, major editorial reviews only matter as much as they do because the reviews offered in such publications as: The New York Times Book Review, Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus etc. are what acquisitions librarians consider when they place their orders. Librarians are often referred to as gatekeepers, but this is not quite true. For the most part, just a few publications control what books will be purchased worldwide. But these review pubs merely voice the opinion of single reviewers, and these reviewers don’t know more than the average person in regard to what should be available to readers. If a book gets a rave or starred review from these all important publications, then in essence that is what readers will find available in libraries and bookstores. 

 Unfortunately, a great many fine, quality books will be ignored and get no reviews or publicity because they aren’t offered by the big publishers who heavily advertise. It appears that the major review publications give special preference to the publishers who advertise with them—not at all surprising. Readers should check out some of the internet review sites for buying recommendations. Also, why not request that your library order books from smaller, independent publishers that you think might be a good read. 

 The internet is now offering readers real alternatives. This is wonderfully democratic. A great many small independent publishers are making a variety of books available to readers. If you read a book you like, speak up and be a reader reviewer. Tell other readers why you would recommend a particular book. Write and be counted! Your opinion matters! But one caution: take this is a serious responsibility. Of late, it has been noted that some individuals bash books, sometimes books they haven’t even bothered to read. This is highly destructive, much in the way that hackers attack the internet. So be a responsible reader reviewer and help others make good choices.

I personally review many of the books I read on Goodreads. Here is a sample.This is an excerpt from my review for Pamela S. Thibodeaux’s soon to be released novel MY HEART WEEPS:

 “Partly based on the author’s own personal experience of losing her husband, My Heart Weeps is a touching story of overcoming grief. It appeals to all human beings who must come to terms with the death of a loved one. This novel offers a positive, uplifting experience.” 

Your thoughts and comments most welcome.

19 comments:

  1. Good piece on reviewing and reviewers.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I personally review any book I have read, citing what worked and what not so well for me. As a reader, I do not buy a book without consulting the Amazon or Goodreads review record. One can easily spot a serious, intelligent, substantive review from a lightweight one. And one must keep in mind that each reader has his or her own preferences.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. R. R.,

      I think it's good to observe what has worked well for you as a reader and what has not. It informs other readers as well as the author. A fair balance is always welcome.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  3. Thanks for the shout out on My Heart Weeps, Jacqueline!
    Your support is greatly appreciated.
    PamT

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are most welcome, Pam! Your book deserves the recognition. I hope many readers discover it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Good suggestions. I wish all readers who enjoy a book would take the time to post a review, even if it's only a sentence or two. (Reviews do not need to be book reports like we had to write in school.) It really does make a difference. And, tell your librarian about books you really enjoy. I used to be on a committee that purchased books for the library. Patrons' suggestions do make a difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree. Reader suggestions, word of mouth does matter a great deal. And librarians do pay attention to patron requests.

      Delete
  6. So true, Jacquie. With shopping going the online route for just about everything this year, I know as a consumer that I look at what everyday reviewers say about a product. I find product reviews essential. And when it comes to books, if I get a lead/tip/recommendation for a new-to-me author, I go to the "read inside" feature on Amazon first for a sense of the author's voice and then if I'm still not sure, I'll read at least 10 of the book reviews.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maggie,

      As you observe, more ordering of books than ever before is going the online route. This makes reader reviews that much more significant.

      Delete
  7. Good points, Jacqueline. I think sometimes readers' reviews are a more true reflection of a book than the professional reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Paul,

    I agree. Reader reviews do matter. Even professional reviews reflect the opinion of a single reader.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So true! As the old expression goes, "It's like pulling teeth" to convince readers to write reviews. I think many aren't sure how to do it and others are intimidated. Posts like this one should help readers to realize how important it is to the success of a book and how simple it is to do.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Patricia,

    Your post on this topic should be read by everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A good column. It is true that often readers never think of reviewing or think they can't--or simply don't know the mechanics of posting a review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Patricia,

      You're right that many readers don't know how to go about reviewing.

      Delete
  12. I agree about reader reviews. Individual responses to a book can and should be varied, but I do pay attention to what other readers say about a book when I'm considering reading it. There are so many choices for reading material, and thoughtfully-written reader reviews help me narrow the options.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Readers are influenced by comments and reviews. You're right about that.

    ReplyDelete