Reviewing Information

Inspired in part by Pure Jonel’s, I wanted to discuss my motivations and aims for the reviews I write and post here.

Why Reviews Matter

Reviews are important to two main parties: the producer of the product and the potential buyer. With books, our main parties specifically is the reader and the author (and perhaps the publisher, if applicable, should also be included here).

For the author, a positive review can increase sales and spread the word about their book, series or even just themselves as an author. More balanced or negative reviews, while they may seem hurtful and unmotivating, should provide author’s with useful feedback. What was wrong with the book from the reviewers point of view? No, you certainly cannot please everyone, but if you can polish your book a little more or appeal to a wider audience, isn’t this something you, as an author, would like to be made aware of? If only a few people review your product to say how wonderful it is, then not much can be gained besides the observation that it doesn’t seem to be very popular. Reviews which highlight some weaknesses can provide authors with a chance to grow. It should be remembered, no matter what quality the work is, that someone has almost certainly put a lot of time and effort into their book.

On the other hand, potential readers are not so much interested in the ways in which the author could grow. They are simply interested in the content of the book. The plot, genre, and characters, for example, can influence the way readers perceive and enjoy the text. If the book is marketed as an action mystery, but the mystery is very weak, then readers who love and look for compelling in-depth mystery books may not enjoy the said book. Conversely, someone who loves action, but may like to dip into a little mystery, might find such a book close to what they know they enjoy making it a stepping stone into books with a greater degree of mystery. In essence, reviews allow readers to get some understanding of the book and whether it would be something they would enjoy before they purchase or read the book.

Not every book quoted as being a ‘tear jerker’ or ‘laugh-out-loud comedy’ will exert the same reaction from every reader and so reviews, from both parties, need to be taken with that in mind. The reading preferences and individual preferences of the reviewer will undoubtedly influence their feelings towards the book.

Why do I review books?

I started because during the summer of 2013 I found that Amazon had free ebooks available to download. Some were only available for a limited time period. I downloaded several (and maybe I went a little over the top since then…) and after reading two or three I realised how wonderful they were. I wanted other people to know how great those books are, I wanted them to be enjoyed by a wider audience and I wanted the authors to know that someone read their work and loved it. These were authors who were giving away a book for free and they were no where near as popular (or presumably as rich) as J K Rowling! In return for allowing me the chance to read such an enjoyable book for free, I wanted to write a review which I hoped would encourage others to read the book.

I am under the impression that few people read my reviews, perhaps that will change as I read more. I am happy even if only one reader takes a chance on a book because of my review and loves it. Even more, I am happy to give authors the praise they deserve.

How do I review books?

My reviews have taken on different forms over the time I have been blogging because I have played with different ways of reviewing. Sometimes I have focused on a concise overview and avoided giving anything away. In other reviews I might have gushed about how much I enjoyed a book or how poorly executed I thought it was. I hope to develope my review style so that it is more useful to both author and reader. I’m not sure that I will ever be able to reduce my reviews to one snappy quote that could be put on a book jacket, but I will endeavour to make them informative and entertaining.

My Reading Preference

Dark fantasy, horror and dystopian fiction is what I enjoy reading the most. I like having a strong emotional reaction to a book - such as being scared, creeped out or upset for the characters. I also like how fantasy and dystopia is so wide, with different author’s exploring vastly different scenarios and at other times similar, but not quite the same, ideas and themes. I also enjoy sci-fi, though not so much sci-fi which is wholly space based or explorative in nature. My guilty pleasure is a good western book with a teaspoon of brief romance.

In general I would say I enjoy almost all genres of books - even those where I am not the target audience. Therefore I am always interested in dipping into a genre which is not one I know I strongly like.

For the most part I try to avoid purely romance based books. I am more interested in the ideas of a novel than a touchy feely, heart melting butter found in some ‘chick-lit’. That said, I appreciate romance novels that are tongue-in-cheek and humorous on occasion. In addition, I find short erotica to be very formulaic and therefore quite boring. You have the beautiful woman, the hunky man and sex scenes. There does not often appear to be much more to the stories than that and I think that is a shame. If that is what sells books and pleases the readers of erotica, so be it.

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