Friday, October 11, 2013

What a Three Rating Means to Me

Poor Three.
Three is looked at askance.
Three carries a burden of shame.
Three is the loneliest number out there.


Because a rating of three tends to cause a myriad of emotions - none of them seem to be good.

Why is that?

I have no idea. Books that are rated a three can be quite entertaining. I call them many things: summer reads, a good time, a great way to pass an evening on a snowy or rainy evening.

For a book to be rated a three, there HAS to be some good qualities. I KNOW I've covered a Three Rating before. In fact, I wrote a post that had quite a few links within it pointing the way to those other posts. Here .. I'll make it easy. Go HERE for the back story on THREE.

In the post, Revisit Me, Screams Number Three, I was covering the writing of a review that screams HIGH SCORE, but the reviewer gives it a three rating. The words in the review did not match what the reviewer ultimately rated it and that's what that particular blog post was addressing. It's the links within that post that I want to draw your attention to.

I guess the question that should be asked then is, "HOW do I write a real three rated review?"

It's a very good question.
Some questions need to be answered not so much with words but with examples. Have I got a treat for you.

First, more words.
Just because a review of a book isn't rated high on a scale does not mean the review has no value. It does not mean that the book should be ignored. Far from it.

A well written three rated review is incredibly helpful to a future reader.

It translates to this: Yes, this book has issues. Yes, a reader is going to find some things that aren't smooth or perfect or logical.

But a well written three rated review is going to give you what makes it good. It will cover what makes it fun, interesting, entertaining, WORTH the time to read and worth checking out.


Because the story will grab you back; it CAN make you laugh, or gasp, or squirm with delight or ::facepalm:: from a bad or corny pun. That despite and in spite of all that might be wrong with the technical side of the book, the STORY is worth it.
The characters might be worth it.
The Romance might worth it.
The world building might be worth it.

The book might have SO much going for it that it seems a shame to rate it a three, but some things like: plot holes, overdone head hopping or changes of a hero's name within the book, all conspire to undermine what truly would have been a great book.

It ends up being, a GOOD book.

There is nothing wrong with a good book.

The following are links I invite you to check out.
Investigate why these reviews are considered solid examples of three rated books.

Here's a challenge for a reviewer. What happens when a book has even MORE things wrong with it that it is impossible to even reach a three rating. HOW in the world does a reviewer write a review without sounding snarky? Without insulting the author's baby? Or even, and this is a major no-no, insulting the author his/her self? Seriously? Some books with issues inspire people with no professional minded filters between brain and fingers to spout off in self-righteous indignation which in turn comes across as being mean and nasty. Can a review be written for even lower than a three and still be respectful, honest and informative yet positive?

Glad you asked that. YES. Yes, it can be done.

Voila. More examples.

Now, since no reviewer is the same. I'm not going to say another word.

It's your turn.
After going through the examples, I would enjoy hearing your questions or comments. No one is going to find the same example as the one that "speaks" to someone else, but I hope one of them does. I'd like to hear which one you found helpful and why. It would be awesome if an actual formal "HOW-TO" format could be developed from this and I think feedback from you is key.

So, what do you say?
Do you now see why I say that a three rating is a good rating?
Because it is. Even if you end up going to the library and checking the book out. It's worth it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm Conflicted

Have you ever felt that way?

I have. More than once.

Conflicts come in many forms but in this case it's regarding the making of a decision. Do I or don't I? Should I or shouldn't I? Can I or Can't I? Will I or won't I?

Doesn't matter how you ask it, the important fact is, the question has to be asked and answered.

In my last post, Everyone's a Critic, I mentioned about conflict of interest and how it can compromise your review.

This post explores a different aspect of the same beast.

When you review because you feel as though you ought, because of friend, crit partner or any other emotional bent, the previous post explained why you should say 'no'.

I want to touch upon those folks that review for more than one site, or those that like to post their review of the same book on multiple venues like Amazon, Goodreads, etc.

Writing a review for those places is fine.

What this post is hoping to achieve is to create in a reviewer an awareness of consequences.

First, I understand the emotional satisfaction of being accepted as a preferred reader for such places as NetGalley or Edelweiss. Being able to read books long before the general public has access is a natural high for any fan of the written word. It's wonderful.

When isn't it wonderful?

When it skews statistics. When it divides your loyalties. When it causes conflict. When it inadvertently leads to accusations of plagiarism. When intellectual property is threatened. All of this is possible.

Once again I need to clarify that this post is geared to those reviewers who review for a professional site. To sharpen the focus further, this is targeted to those sites who also, in their professional capacity, have contracts with those same NetGalley kinds of sites.

The question should be: Who do I review for?

The answer: One or the other, NOT BOTH.

I repeat: You can not review the Same book for BOTH sites - or a multiple of sites.

But you ask: Why not, especially if I write a completely different review?

First - and the obvious: Unless your opinion of the book (like vs dislike) has changed drastically (which it shouldn't), you are sharing the same opinion. As such, and which brings me to the second point, you are skewing the statistics. If you share reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, the review site you belong to, and anywhere else where statistics matter, then you are not allowing an honest and fair assessment of the book to occur.

It's almost like being a shill at an auction - driving the price up so the item will sell for a higher price than is warranted, than it otherwise would.

I realize that's not what most people intend. I say 'most' because there ARE unscrupulous people out there. But the effect is the same. If you share your review with four sites, it looks as though four different people are liking the book for the same reasons, but in actuality, the number is one - you. Multiply you by 100 doing the same thing and think about how that affects the book. If the publisher thinks that many great reviews are out there, they equate that to sales. But take away the You Effect and what is the reality? Three HUNDRED of those reviews are invalid.

Did you ever think about that?

Another conflict is this.

If you take a book from NetGalley under your own name, you can NOT review the book for anyone else or anywhere else. It has to be your own personal blog. That is what NetGalley expects from you because that's the agreement. By the same token, if you review for a site that also contracts with NetGalley, they can't use the book that YOU personally took from NetGalley.

Only books that THEY request from NetGalley can be reviewed on THEIR site.

In other words: NetGalley and Edelweiss expect you to post the review on your own website or blog, and don't mind that you do it on Goodreads. You'd be linking back to your own personal blog anyway. The problem arises when a professional website, like LASR, (not a personal review blog) has their own account, but their reviewers are posting the NetGalley reviews on their personal NetGalley account and not the professional website.

Do you see the conflict? Do you understand where I'm going with this?

Intellectual property is serious business. Whether you get paid or not - monetarily, in books, or you do it out of the sheer joy of sharing, when you submit a review that will reflect the site, the reputation of the site, and will be credited to the site, it becomes the property of the site.

What is NetGalley is NetGalley's. What is Edelweiss is Edelweiss'. What is a professional review site is the professional review site's. What is LASR is LASR's.

The goal of this post was to enlighten, guide and teach reviewers about another aspect of reviewing. The business side. And how every review you write has greater worth than the apparent.

You matter.
What you think, matters.
What you say, matters.
Where and how you share it, matters.

End the conflict.
Make the right decision.
Because your decision, matters.