Monday, January 14, 2013

What defines a good review?

Just how would you define a “good review?”
I suppose if you ask 10 authors what they hope to get from a book review, you might get four or five answers.

I guess if I receive a review of my novels, I’d want kind praise, of course. Maybe a rave, if you’re in the mood.

Also, and this is even more important over the long-term, I’d like some helpful criticism of the book. What might it lack in terms of plot? Story? Character development?

Now I don’t advocate the old axiom of “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.” because, you know, if you don’t like something…well, it might be good for me to know about it.

Up to a point.

What got me to thinking like this about reviews was an item on a web site called The Omnivore ( 

It sponsors a (mostly) tongue-in-cheek award known as The Hatchet Job of the Year Awards ( that highlights the more cruel, scathing and nasty book reviews of the previous year.

I admit, a few of those reviews are kind of fun to read. I guess. And as you can see by the recognizable names of some of the authors, they’ll survive the scathing reviews—wittily scathing, in some cases. (We should all have half of Martin Amis’ problems, eh?)

What do you look for in a review of a book you may want to purchase and read?

And what do you hope for in reading a review of your own book—assuming the review is somewhere between scathing and an over-the-moon rave?



Monti said...

Authors are sensitive. Some will take to criticism more kindly than others. The reviewer is walking a tight rope...

Nice to have your thoughts.

Mary Montague Sikes

Beryl Reichenberg said...

It's nice to have a good review of your books, of course. But if there are things that could be improved, that's nice to know too. We can all learn. We also must keep in mind that this is one person's opinion that may or may not reflect the opinions of others. Beryl

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I think we've all gotten less than wonderful reviews along with the praises. I'm just grateful when someone says they enjoyed the story.

G. B. Miller said...

I've written different kinds of reviews over the years. The ones I write on Amazon are vastly different than what I wrote on my blog.

My blog reviews featured both good and bad about a given book (what I liked and disliked personally), but I always made it so that if I disliked something, it was always due to personal taste and nothing else.

What I write on Amazon is usually positive, but not overly glowing.

I'm happy if someone likes what I write, and so long as they're honest about what they don't like, then I don't have a problem.

William Doonan said...

I want a reviewer to write that my book's impact will probably outlive eternity itself, and that six thousand copies have already been ordered to be given to influential people.

Beryl Reichenberg said...

William has the right idea. Wouldn't that be nice for all of us. Beryl

Beryl Reichenberg said...

William has the right idea. Wouldn't that be nice for all of us. Beryl