Thursday, November 15, 2012

Are We Asking Too Much of Our Readers? By Rolynn Anderson

“Please read my novel.”
“After you read my book, please write a review of it.”
“Once you’ve read and reviewed my novel, please make your enjoyment of it public on the Internet and among your friends.”
Wow!  Do we ever ask a lot of our readers - much, much more than we ever expected of ourselves as readers, don’t you think?  I mean, I was an English teacher and a high school principal, but it wasn’t until I became a published author that I thought about book reviews.  I spent decades reading voraciously, but never, once, wrote to a favorite author about how much I enjoyed her book.  Heck, I didn’t even know people could write reviews on Amazon and other sites until I began to submit my manuscripts to publishing houses.  The first review I wrote was a scary event for me, even though I’m a writer.  I could tell that when I suggested to friends and relatives that they might write a review of my book, they seemed nervous about the prospect, too.  Not only was the notion of writing a review new to them, but they worried about saying the wrong things about my novel and they hated rating the book.  Just like me.
Remember how we used to ‘pass along’ a good book in the past, before social networking and Amazon?  We shared titles among friends, we browsed in bookstores, taking tips from the sales staff, and we checked the best seller lists in the newspapers.  Our ‘reviews’ were quick and informal.  “I loved that book;” “Good beach read;” “Definitely a page-turner.”  Sometimes we placed the book in our friend’s hands and said, “Read it.  You won’t be sorry!”
Simple back then; not so simple now.  So many neighborhood book stores are gone along with their paid advisors.  Instead we’re inundated by ‘You gotta read these’ lists and have come to depend on lengthy reviews and pesky rating scales.
I’ve decided to back off a bit and remind myself of my carefree experiences as a reader.  Yes, our crazy review/rating system has given me stress, but why pass along my anxiety to my readers?
Your thoughts?
In the spirit of a two-sentence review, here's one for my novel, SWOON:
Don't miss SWOON by Rolynn Anderson! If you like an interesting cast of characters, a heavy dose of mystery and a lot of fabulous surprises, you'll be happily turning pages late into the night.ˮ
~ Brenda Novak, NYT and USA Bestselling Author of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES

Her dead clients won’t rest in peace.
When the dead tell tales, Jan Solvang’s first reaction is to RUN!  But then she gets caught up in their mysteries.
Jan’s a boutique funeral planner, new to risk, hired to bury a missing woman and memorialize an infamous man.  Yet when she digs for clues to write their eulogies, she disturbs family secrets and unmasks killers.
Roman Keller, hard-driving documentary writer, is in complete control of his life and his stories, until he falls for Jan, a woman who trusts her dog, her faint-dreams, and her instincts more than she trusts him.

Can they make the sacrifices necessary to cement their relationship or will the mayhem caused by the dead ruin their second chance at love?  

Check out my website:
SWOON other e-pubs:


landscapers in las vegas said...

Nice work on putting together a very interesting post. Fabulous ideas and very helpful information. Well thought out and well written.

Edith said...

I think you're making a very good point here. I write occasional reviews, usually only of books I really like. But writing a review is hard work and it generally takes me anything from 1 - 2 weeks to write, revise and publish it, unless I am submitting it to a printed publication, in which case it can be months before its published! I do think that there are a lot of authors out there who are unaware of what exactly they are asking for when they request a review. That's not to say that they shouldn't ask, but maybe be extremely appreciative if someone does do it for you! As for receiving a copy of the book in return, believe me it would be cheaper and easier to just buy ones own copy. Generally speaking I prefer to purchase my own copy anyway as this way it is entirely up to me to decide whether I want to put my precious time and energy into writing a review. Thought provoking post!

Brenda Gayle said...

You make some excellent points, Rolynn. I never posted reviews in the past, but once I was published felt compelled to do so if for no other reason than I was hoping someone would post a review of my books. If I wasn't willing to publicly express my thoughts about what I've read, why would I expect other readers to do so? I'm happy to talk about books with anyone, and prefer to have a conversation, rather than the current system of writing a few comments and selecting a rating. Our appreciation of a book is very subjective; it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things. Because I know what types of books my "real" friends like, I can better decide whether I'd like a book based on their opinions. These are the reviews that matter to me.

LaVerne Clark said...

Great post Rolynn! I'm in your camp too, which is probably why my books don't have a huge amount of reviews - but it does make the ones I do have all the sweeter! I'm a reader too, and try to review more than I used to, but its all about the time thing. So many people seem to have less of it these days.

LisaRayns said...

Great post. Every week at least I give up on marketing completely so I'm with you. haha. LOVE the new cover and congrats on the wonderful review!

Angela Adams said...

Food for thought, Rolynn. I actually like writing reviews (I used to like writing book reports back in school, too). I like giving my opinion (not so much summarizing the plot, though). Thanks for the post.

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Thought provoking post, Rolynn. Like you, I never knew I could write a review. I was just a goofy chick who likes romances after all. I write them now, but only if I really enjoyed the book, and I'm still uncomfortable with the process, so I'm reluctant asking others to do so for me.

Jannine Gallant said...

Very good points. Another is that if I don't think a book is deserving of 5 stars and it's by an author I know, I feel bad leaving a 3 or 4 star review, especially if it's a book I won. I also feel bad giving it a rating I don't feel it deserves. So, I wind up not leaving any review at all... When I do leave a review, it's short and to the point. I don't feel the need to summarize the plot; that's what blurbs are for. I just leave my impressions.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Forgive me for being late in responding to your comments, everyone, but I've had guests all day...had fun, but missed directly responding to you. Clearly some of you enjoy writing reviews and rating, but many of you, like me, are new to the whole process and a bit reticent. I'm thinking that Jannine has it right...we leave short, pointed comments and that's good enough..but expecting that of non-authors...that's asking a lot. Thanks to all of you for your thoughts!