Authors on Reviews Blog Hop

To Be or Not To Be? Not exactly.

This is a book blog and this is a blog hop asking the question, “should authors comment on reviews?”

So perhaps better is “To Comment or Not to Comment?”

The blog hop was inspired by the recent 3 Star Ratings Event. Nat @ Reading Romances decided to create today’s event as an opportunity for us book bloggers and reviewers to say what we expect from authors when we post reviews of their books.

So it’s up to each blogger to answer that age-old question, “Should Authors Comment on Reviews?”

On the one hand, I want the author to know I’ve reviewed their book. I want the publisher to know about it too. I want it so bad that I tweet my review to both of them. Some authors reply to the tweet. Some re-tweet, especially if the review is good. Sometimes the publishers will re-tweet.

But yes, I expect the tweet to get some traffic. That’s the point. I agonize over those 140 characters, hoping to maximize their impact. I tweet my reviews because I want somebody to pay attention.

The author, and the publisher, are likely to be the two parties most interested in whatever I said about the book. It’s logical.

And the economy has changed. I don’t mean the money economy, although, let’s face it, that too. I mean the information/attention economy. It used to be that information was expensive and attention was cheap. Now it’s the other way, information is easy to get, it’s attention that hard to grab.

Reviews are attention, especially for small press/ebook-only/self-published books.

So yes, I think it’s terrific when an author comments, even when it’s just to say “thank you”. Particularly when they thank the other commenters who are saying they might read the book.

When I start with “on the one hand” I generally have another hand hidden behind my back. In this case, that other hand is Ebook Review Central.

Every week, the Monday Ebook Review Central wrap-up highlights the three most and best reviewed titles from one (or more) of the ebook publishers for the month. The featured titles are always going to be the big hits, because that’s the point. I comb through all the reviews to tally which three books got the most recognition from reviewers.

It’s totally recognition of who did well, and why. Also a recommendation that these are the books that people loved, so, if you (person reading the post) like the type of story represented, and haven’t yet read this, you might want to check out all these reviews conveniently linked here, and see if you want to read it too.

Since the ERC post emphasizes the positives (the books that don’t get reviewed a lot are in the database, I just don’t talk about them much), I would love, love, love to get more authors (and readers) commenting on the Ebook Review Central posts.

But we’ve all heard that some people feel “intimidated” if the author might comment on the review or in the comments to a post.

Please comment here! How do you feel? Do you like seeing authors comment on their reviews? Do you like seeing authors participate in book blog commentary in general?

If you want to read what others are saying on this topic, here are the links to all the participating blog hops:


3 Star Ratings: the Authors and Publishers Turn

Today it’s the authors’ and publishers’ turn to  speak out (or write out!) on the topic of those 3-star ratings.

Since I’m a proud member of the SFR Brigade, I asked some SFR authors over at the Brigade to send me their thoughts about what it’s like for them when one of their books receives a 3-Star Review. Here’s what they sent:

Heather Massey, author of Queenie’s Brigade and the new Clockpunk Erotica The Watchmaker’s Lady, and also the pilot of the SFR-focused blog The Galaxy Express, had this to say:

A book review, any review, is for readers. A review represents enthusiasm for the written word and I applaud those who take the time to do them. It’s an invaluable service.

What does a three-star review (or its equivalent) mean to me as an author? It means that with so many book choices available these days, someone has chosen to not only read one of mine, but also enjoys sharing his or her thoughts about it with other readers. That’s a very special honor.

It also means (to me) that I delivered an entertaining and/or thought-provoking story, one that the reviewer found worth analyzing even if all of the elements didn’t work for him or her. And what didn’t work for him or her might work for other readers—or vice versa. I find these types of discoveries fascinating. I appreciate the chance to discover impressions about my stories that I could only learn through the eyes of a reader. Once I send off a story into the world, it belongs to them.

Diane Dooley, the author of the SFR novellas Mako’s Bounty and Blue Galaxy, said something slightly shorter and pithier, but equally to the point.

On 3 star reviews: A three star review means someone liked your book. They didn’t love it or hate it. Nothing wrong with that!  I’ve had enough one and two star reviews to appreciate a three star. I guess it’s all in your perspective. Writers who whine about a three star review really need to toughen up and get over themselves.

And A.B. Gayle, the author of the recent SFR space opera novel Isolation, reflected more of the ambivalence that many reviewers sense when we give a 3-star rating in her response to the question.

Such a hard topic actually. I angst about a “3” rating, but it does depends on the reviewer. Some are tougher than others and rarely give high ratings, so I do look at their averages and what else they give high and low ratings to!

Going by the definition it means they like the book, but many use it to indicate “meh”. A lot depends on if they back it up with a review and say why they didn’t score it higher. That’s what I want to know. It may not be their “type” of book or didn’t meet their expectations. Always a killer. Some split it and rate plot/characters/writing separately and then average them. I like that type of feedback.

Theoretically ratings are for other readers to rank a book against what else that reader has read so their friends can work out if they want to read it.I find it difficult to remember that and just use it as a yardstick on my writing. Which I know is wrong, but I can’t help it. In a nutshell, I see it as a “pass”, a “C”, and I was one of those students who went for “B”s and “A”s.

And what do the publishers have to say?

Representing the Publishers Perspective, we have the PR Manager for Curiosity Quills Press, Verity Linden:

When one of our books gets a 3-star, it tends to be either the best kind of review, or the worst, rarely anything in between! Option one, it is someone who liked the book overall but had certain issues with it. These tend to be great feedback, broken down into what they liked and what they didn’t, which often gets used in the editing process for that author in future. Option two, the other half of 3-star reviews, where the book has elicited the worst kind of response possible – bland indifference, damning with weak praise. I would almost rather someone hated the book and told us why.

Overall, my opinion of 3-star reviews is about as mixed ‘6 of one, half a dozen of the other’ as… well. A 3 star review!

Last, but not least, a comment from from Eugene Teplitsky, Operations Director  of Curiosity Quills Press:

In my experience, 3 stars tend to be those reviews which either fall into that frustrating category of people who praise, prase, PRAISE the book in the text of the review, and then give 3 stars without saying why they docked us – OR – people who were sadly unimpressed with the book to swing either way. For me, this is pretty bad, actually, because it means we 1. failed to impress a reader enough to make a conclusive decison that they loved it, and 2. failed to piss them off enough with a hard-hitting divisive twist to make them REALLY hate it. Intead, it fell into the realm of MEH.
I do not like the realm of MEH. I do not like it, no sirreh.

I think it is fair to say that no one likes the realm of MEH. No one at all.

The recipients of those 3-star ratings have pretty mixed “ratings” on the ratings. But there is one common thread. Everyone who receives those ratings is very interested in the “why”. Without the “why” the “3-stars” can look a lot like “realm of MEH” from the receiving end.

With the “why” it can be great feedback.

But let’s hear from other authors, publishers and reviewers out there. What does a 3-star rating mean to you?
Here are all the blogs participating in this event:

3 Star Ratings: the Reviewer’s Perspective

What does it mean to a reviewer to give a 3-star rating?

This post is part of the 3-Star Rating Event organized by Bitten by Paranormal Books. Today’s post, not just here but at all of the participating blogs, is the opportunity for the blogger/reviewers to talk about what it means when they give a book a 3-star rating, or the equivalent for their blog.

On Reading Reality, 3 stars would be an Escape Rating of C. That doesn’t mean a “Gentleman’s C” like they used to award at Ivy League schools (possibly still do), but, as it says on my review policy:

C: Good fun.  I enjoyed the time I spent with the story and/or characters.

So a C means I had fun. To me, that’s pretty important. I read genre fiction, it’s supposed to be fun! If I give a C that means the book succeeded. But, but, but, there was something that kept it from doing more than working beyond that most basic level of giving me a pleasant escape for the time it took me to read it. And my review is going to explain whatever it was that kept the grade from being higher than a C.

What makes a story a C rating, at least to me?

I have a tendency to give a C+ rating to novellas that I enjoy a lot, but frustrate me because I want more than I got. I can see that there should be more story, or more backstory, or more worldbuilding, and it got left “on the cutting room floor”. While I recognize that the author may have needed to make a word count requirement, as the reader, what I feel is that I liked what I got, but that the story cries out for more depth, or breadth or length, or all of the above.

I gave Break Out, by Nina Croft, a C+ rating. I also named it one of my best of the year. But only along with its sequel, Deadly Pursuit. Together, the two books had the worldbuilding that neither quite managed alone.

Sometimes my willing suspension of disbelief won’t let me go past a C+. Lust in the Library was a C+ book, not because it wasn’t fun, but because I know too much about libraries. Any real librarian who behaved like the librarians in that book would get fired.

Some stories get a solid C because while I enjoyed them once, and might recommend them to another reader of the same genre, they don’t rise to the next level. C and C+ books are generally terrific mind-candy, but don’t have the elements that would make me recommend them to readers who are not already fans of that particular genre. But whatever makes them C-rated books, the review explains it, usually in glorious technicolor detail.

But it’s just one reviewer’s opinion. YMMV.

Tomorrow, each blog will post comments they’ve gathered from authors about what they think and feel when their work receives a 3-star rating. More comments are always welcome, so that purple comment link at the bottom of this post, please click it and send me your thoughts on this subject. Or email me at marlene (at) readingreality (dot) net.

As a reader, what does a 3-star rating mean to you? I’d love to know what review readers think about the ratings!

The links to all the blogs participating in the 3-star rating event hop are listed below. Check them out to see what other reviewers had to say about this murky subject.