Monday, July 9, 2012

Why I Applaud Editors of Reviews

I can only speak to the editors of the Long and Short of It Reviews because that's what I'm familiar with.

I was curious about any reviews of a book that I had just finished reading.  I loved it and felt it was one of the best books in the series, so far.  I can't link to it right now because it has to go through its own editing process before it can get published at LASR.  One thing my editors will not see are some of these that I snagged from Goodreads.

" an incredible adiction to the"  Addiction or Addition - not sure which but an editor could have helped tremendously. 

"It sparks me to want to re-read the earlier books in the series"   - alright firefly. An editor might have suggested  sparked interest in re-reading, or  It inspired me to re-read..., or It motivated me to want to re-read... but 'sparked me' just doesn't work unless you're a fire cracker.

One review gave critical plot points away, explaining about the hero's background IN DETAIL; information I only found out when I read the book myself - as it should be.  Not only that, but the so-called review showed a huge chunk of dialogue and then continued to give blow by blow accounts of what happened later.  I had to stop reading it. I was going to blow a gasket.  Telling readers what the story is all about, what happens and explains in intricate detail why something is the way it is has a name.  SPOILERS!!  They are not reviews!  

Ok....I digress.  Let's see what else I found. 

Oh, The Pout.  Yes, a reviewer pouted.  "This book would have been so much better if there were more of  (previous characters)....."   The book wasn't about those other characters.  This book was about one man, one hero, and his journey to redemption.  Because this particular book didn't have "those" characters, the reviewer trashed it.  HELLO!!!  ::face palm:: Review and rate the book on what IS, not what you wish it could be.  You didn't write the book, the author did.  Her world, her rules, her vision.   And then the "reviewer" ended with, " complete review to come."  Really!  So, this person took the time to trash the book because it didn't have the characters she/he'd prefer to see and left a CLIFF HANGER?   Interesting technique. 

Ah, I was wondering when I'd find a review with this element.  I know the hero was as anti-hero as a man could get. He has a history of being the villain everyone loved to hate - with good reason. 

  I left Goodreads with thankfulness and switched to random clicking and Lo!

"... he is also a complete asshole." That's basically true but profanity really has no place on a 'professional' review site.  Even if it's said throughout the book, profanity really should not show up in a review.  Remember, and I'm paraphrasing, 'lady on the outside, vixen on the inside'.  I think 'bastard' can be used because it is, in fact, a noun  and a well used one during those Regency times.

Yes, editors work magic. They fix the flow of a review with a simple tweak of a word here or there.  Their jobs are made much easier if I do my homework and proof my words.  Did I mix up a metaphor?  Did I type in reslut again instead of result?  Did I put there instead of their?  Spell check won't ever catch that because there and their are real words.  This is when the human brain is superior to any computer program.  I can't rely on auto-correct either because sometimes what the computer suggests is from outer space. I am the first and last to proof before I submit.  Because I've had the honor of assisting with editing, I know what a thankless, eye-straining, headache inducing job it can be. But the polished product is a miracle. We all benefit from our editor's efforts and the result is a higher quality review.  I'm honored to have such wonderful people scrutinizing my work. They make me look darned good.

Hats off to our editors!!!!

 **VBG** After reading all of this, you are probably wondering and demanding I reveal the name of the book I was basing this post on.   I'll instead share with you a review that I thought was awesome.  Even better than  mine and it's not out yet.  I loved the insight this reviewer put into it.  I enjoyed how she skirts the cliff of spoilers, giving enough to tease and make me want to read the book all over again. I love giving credit to a great review and this one deserves it.  Click HERE to see the answer revealed.  

As always, if you have any feedback regarding this post, I'd enjoy the chat. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Spam Spam Spam I Am - NOT!

First, a nod to Monty Python's Spam

I find it amazing that it's the perfect tie-in to teach about repetitive words in a review.  I have covered this issue before and I thought it was pretty clear about how annoying a Broken Record could be. However, it is a topic that begs to be revisited because it's a trap that we all fall into frequently.  It not only plagues reviewers but authors as well.

The use of the same word to refer to an item repeated in close proximity in the same paragraph is to be avoided. Like the counter 'lady's' reaction to all that repetitive Spam flying around, I too want to scream, "Enough!"  

The word most often abused is 'story'.  Here are other options to try in your review to break up the bad habit of story-itis.

Folk tale
Or use the actual title of the book instead of  "this story"
Story line
Tall tale
Tear jerker
This mystery
This whodunit
This romance, the romance

I have a suggestion.  If you have a search function or (edit and replace) on whatever program you use to write your reviews on your computer, plug in the word "story" and see how often it shows up and where.  Same with "book".  They seem to be the most repeated and need to be mixed up and stirred. 

The goal of this post is to polish your writing style. I hope this list helps.  Too much of a good thing, like SPAM, can make you sick. Using the same word over and over again in a 250 word review is not a good thing. Read it aloud and you'll see.

If there are other words that you find yourself over-using, let me know.  I can research and come up with another comprehensive list that other reviewers can reference.   And, if you have other words that I missed that I can add to the above 'story', I'd love to see them and I'll update this post.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reviewing Isn't Singing Along with Toby Keith

I actually enjoy Talk About Me and it's great to sing along with - if I can keep up. 

The lyrics that stick with me are these:

"I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally
I wanna talk about me (me,me,me,me- background singers)
I wanna talk about meeeeeeee (me,me- background singers)
(I wanna talk about me- background singers)mmmm me me me me
(I wanna talk about me- background singers)mmmm me me me me
You you you you you you you you you you you you you

I wanna talk about ME!"

What does Toby Keith's song have to do with reviewing? It is perfect to illustrate what readers should see in a review.   If I'm writing the review, you want to know what I felt, what I saw, how I was affected, what I liked, what I didn't, what I observed and what I looked for and what I found and what I didn't find.  Did I laugh, did I cry, did I faint from the scorching love scenes or fall asleep or did I want to rush out and tell everyone to read this book; all those things are points that make a review valuable to a potential buyer of a book.  What do they have in common? Me!  My opinion.

What I do not want to see is you: You will like this..., You will absolutely love..., You will cry when ..., You will want to ...., You will come to believe..., You must..., You are going to .... You you you you you.

Seriously, how can a reviewer possibly anticipate a reader reacting the same as the reviewer?

There are times when "You" can be fine to use.

"You might remember the old adage, "It takes a thief to catch a thief".

 At that point the reviewer is talking to the reader, drawing them in by using a common analogy or reference to make their point.   Nowhere in the above example is the reviewer telling the reader what they will do.  It's being chatty, and that's fine.  But when reviewers persist in telling the reader how to do this or that, then it ceases being a sharing of opinion and comes across as shaking a figurative finger at the reader with authority, "You will laugh...!" "You will do this...after reading this scene, chapter, book."

I don't think so.

To flip Mr. Keith's lyrics around from "I like talking about you you you you, usually, but occasionally
I wanna talk about me."

 It should be "I like talking about me me me me me, usually, but occasionally I can talk about you."

It's hard to refrain from You-ing all over the place.  A reviewer might do it because they feel that they're writing it in a way  that might relate better to the reader.  It's not. It's telling.  A review is your opinion and you are sharing about how the book, characters, dialogue, setting or sex scenes affected you.  Or not.

I need to see,  "I was amazed!"  not, "You will be amazed."  You can't possibly know that.

When I see a review telling me to do this or that,  I get all huffy and want to stomp up to my soap box  and hold up a neon sign that says STOP!  I don't like to see someone telling me how I'm going to react to the same book they're talking about. That's for me to decide.  I can only hope that I'll derive the same sense of enjoyment, awe, surprise or excitement out of the book as the reviewer.  But I can't be told to.

A reviewer's goal is to Make me want to experience those same things by hooking me, intriguing me, teasing me and painting with words that show me their enthusiasm and observations enough that it piques my interest, whets my appetite and encourages me to go and read the book for myself.  


Before you submit your review, look it over to see if you are sharing your opinion or telling.

Too much telling in a book can drag down the review rating.  Telling in a review is just as unwelcome.

Please be aware folks. And when writing, think in your head, 'talk about me'.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"Revisit Me" Screams Number Three

Hello, again, fellow reviewers!
Welcome, fellow word grazers!

It's been awhile, hasn't it?  I've covered many aspects of reviewing so topics are fewer to come by.  Sometimes what is old is new again and this post proves it.  I heard it through the editing grapevine that ratings aren't equaling the review.  The ripple effect from that practice is not pretty and it affects the reviewer's credibility, not to mention causes untold confusion for the author as well as readers of your review.

The rating of three (3) isn't a bad thing.  If you need a refresher about a  three (3) rating click HERE -- remember the Rapunzel-effect?.  I know some of you do.  I even covered a three (3) rating in more depth HERE  -  personally, I think the 'Missing Link' is even more helpful.  Three(3) is a popular subject, can you tell?

The flip side of rating a book a three (3), is not writing the review to justify it.  In fact, what is being written is glowing, gushing and all perfectly positive.  If you're that enthusiastic about the book, why in the world are you rating it a three (3)?  To paraphrase Mr. Spock, "That does not compute."  Certainly, it's not logical.

For a book to earn a three (3) rating, it has to have faults. Has to. Not maybe. Has to. And how to address them was covered in The Rapunzel Effect - so go check out that link if you haven't already.

A reviewer does a great disservice to the book and all readers of their review when there is tons of gushing and positive opinions without sharing what dragged it down from a perfect rating of five (5) or Best Book to a three (3).  There has to be a reason.  It's the responsibility of a reviewer to express that; share what didn't work and what could have made it better in a concise but respectful manner.  Remember, no snark - it's never constructive nor truly informative.  Remember, I covered No Snark when I went 'fishing'.  Need a refresher?  Click HERE

I'm not sure why a reviewer would hesitate to share their opinion of what didn't work for them. I don't think they'd hold back if they were talking to their friends face to face about it.  I hardly think they'd recommend a book to their friends by waxing poetic about how great it was and then mislead them by not warning them of the book's pitfalls.  Friendship means taking the good with the not-so-good.  The relationship that a reviewer has with her/his audience is just like a friendship.  Some readers follow a reviewer because they feel that they can trust the opinion of the writer.  Why would you want to let them down?  What are you afraid of?  Are you aware that authors respect a well worded critique and find the information of what didn't work, helpful?  They do.  Well, most do.

 If a reviewer stated that the hero's dialogue came across sounding like a stubborn, childish cur instead of a man you could respect and swoon over, then they'd know to pay more attention to the male POV and how he's depicted.  Perhaps they need to do more research on how men talk amongst themselves to gain more insight.  And that insight may very well benefit the next hero, and reviewers will truly have reason to be enthusiastic. Maybe there was a ton of confusing head hopping in a book and the reviewer shared that it was overdone and threw them out of the story.  That might challenge the author to rein in his/her characters and the next book will be sharp and on target.

The bottom line?  Write a review that matches the rating.  Give details ( NOT SPOILERS) about what was missing, or what didn't work.  Something.  Don't just say  the book 'feels' like a three (3).  That means nothing.  Please do not submit a review that has "Happy, Happy, Joy! Joy!" (nod to Ren & Stimpy) all over it and then slap on a three (3) rating, or even a four (4).  When you do that, your credibility is on the line.

Please make your reviews match and/or justify your rating.