Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Book Reviews

My weekly writing group has pondered the effect of negative book reviews on potential readers. The members who are published novelists have been concerned about a couple of negative reviews of their work appearing on, amidst bunches of other reviews glowing with praise. Some of the negative reviews sound as if the reviewer hadn't actually read the book; one is shrilly derisive and picks on miniscule points as a basis to condemn an entire book.

I myself have never yet posted an Amazon review, but I've determined in future to post reviews of books I like, so as to support the authors. I will not post reviews of books I don't like, unless they are so abysmally bad others should be warned against them as a public service. Despite having encountered many ill-written books in my life, I have seldom found books so bad they shouldn't have been written. There is almost always a redeeming feature or two that makes them appeal to some readers.

Since I am a novice at book-reviewing, I'm looking for articles on writing reviews. Booksquare's January 19 post tipped me to this highly entertaining "class" on writing book reviews: Miles Kington -- Masterclass: How to write a book review

Sample quote:
Book review writing is very much the same [as the art of fiction], except that instead of telling people about characters, the idea is to tell the reader all about YOU.
In addition, I found a link proffered by the Smart Bitches, on a Swedish reviewer who wrote a "terrible review for [a] terrible book -- that doesn't even exist yet." (Is that what happens when book reviewers allow their personal animosity toward an author to take over?)

I am still searching for a good article on how to review a book. If you know of one, please let me know.

I am also interested in knowing what you think of some of the negative reviews on Amazon. Do you believe the reviews word-for-word, or are you skeptical? Do it depend on how well the review itself is written? How much do the Amazon reviews affect your book-buying decisions?


Charles Gramlich said...

Negative reviews probably effect me most if I know little about the author of a particular tome. Say I was considering buying a thriller by Michael Connelly and looked it up on Amazon, and the first review was bad. I would quite possibly move on to another thriller. It's not that I would take the reviewer's word per se, but it would raise a question, and with so muchhhhhhh out there to read a negative review could keep from taking a chance on that author.

Sidney said...

I have frequently read bad reviews which have given me enough of a book's plot to capture my interest, so maybe the old - "I don't care how you mention my name, just mention my name" adage is true.