Sunday, September 5, 2010

My Soap Box Stand

If you've skimmed through my previous posts, the one thing that should have stood out above all else is my abhorrence of synopsis reviews. That's not to say that synopsis-style reviews are the same animal.

Let me put it this way. Black panthers. They are not all the same breed. Some are jaguar and some are leopard but people refer to them both as being black panthers.

Many reviews include a synopsis up front but it doesn't end there. It continues on to include the affect the story and characters had on the reader/reviewer and whether it worked or not. It shares with readers of the review why the reviewer would recommend others to pick up the book and see for themselves.

A review that insults the very nature of what reviewing is all about is the pure synopsis 'review'. I use the term "review" lightly. Those types will retell the entire story using all of its major paragraphs and will only allocate perhaps two sentences at the very end for something only remotely resembling an opinion without justifcation for its rating.

An author writes for months, does edits for another month and does promo work and what kind of response do they get? A lackadaisical attempt without thought or effort? A rehashing of the very things a reader should find out for themselves by reading the book? I find that insulting.

I found a perfect example of what I refer to and I'm going to share it with you. I have no tolerance for synopsis only reviews like this. Authors deserve better and reviewers are getting a bad rap when the industry thinks this is the norm. We deserve better too.
Check out this link:
Must Be Doing Something Right
This is my response:

What this review should have done was to continue with how it affected the reviewer. What made it good? Why didn't it reach 'great'? What worked for the reader? What were his/her opinions? What stood out; was it characterization, descriptions, love scenes, what? Did any part of the book make them laugh? Cry? Bite their nails? TALK TO ME! Don't rehash the book; make me curious! Make me want to check it out! Isn't that why you write reviews in the first place?

Now I ask you:
Who thinks this review has value to a reader? I'd enjoy a dialogue as to what makes this one acceptable. What can someone say to recommend this style of reviewing? I'm very interested.


Pauline B Jones said...

This is a tough one for an author to comment on, because if we agree with you, we can get flamed for being picky. LOL! Obviously, one likes a sense of if the reviewer liked the book--unless they didn't. LOL!

Xeranthemum said...

ROTFL!, Pauline.

What's wrong with wanting a higher standard? ;-)

But yeah, if someone says, "I liked it" and all they do it retell the blurb/synopsis, why should I believe them when they've not given me proof?

I want a resource, not a re-tell.

Pauline B Jones said...

Well, as a reader, so do I. For instance, when i go to amazon, I'll look at a mix of reviews, trying to find out more about the book.

It helps a LOT when its in kindle and I can order a sample and read, but I still like to know something about a book before I buy. So as a reader, I do agree with you.

but as an author, I'm Switzerland. LOL!

Marianne Arkins said...

Aww..heck... I'll take a stand as an author. I'm feeling brave this morning.

I like to know what a reviewer did or didn't like. I got a review on one of my short stories that was rated a three out of five, but the review was glowing and I was frustrated -- not at the glowing review, of course, but I wondered what hadn't resonated with the reader. Something must have been off for it to be rated 'good' instead of 'very good' or 'GREAT!'. I wasn't upset about the rating and I'm not fussing about that, but I honestly wish I knew what she didn't like.

Constructive reviews (good and bad) can help an author. Pure snark doesn't, but someone coming out and saying, gently, what just didn't do it for them is absolutely welcome.

Of course, I'll take the glowing reviews, too, any day. *G*

Wendi Zwaduk said...

I'm brave, too. I know going into a story or when I look at a review, for that matter, that not everyone will love what I wrote. It's the spice of life. What you like isn't always going to be what I like. I prefer it that way. But as you said, if the work isn't up to par for you, then tell me what didn't work for you. Improvement cannot come through silence. If one had said, this doesn't work because... Ok. I can work with that. But to jusy say, this is a good story with a good plot...makes me want to bite my tongue off to keep from lashing out.

But that's just me.


Pauline B Jones said...

You are all very brave. No flames licking around yet.

Wasn't trying to be a wimp, LOL, it's just that authors get slammed a lot for whining. Like I said, as a reader, i'm always looking for more information, because I rarely buy books in a physical bookstore anymore. So I need more information. That review wouldn't bring me back to that review site, so not only does it not help, but it doesn't build track to the review site. (grin)

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

I see what you mean about the synopsis review and I agree. I don't really consider that a review. I think the reviewer should put her own spin on the book's story and draw readers in to want to buy the book. I wouldn't buy that book based on that review.

Beth Caudill said...

This is exactly why I don't do reviews. I can tell you I like/love/dislike a story. But putting reason behind those feelings is hard for me. So I don't even try. I leave it people more qualified.