Michell Plested blogs about reviews

Recently on Michell Plested’s website he discussed his views on reader reviews, their pros and cons, and his very sane, cogent response to negative reader reviews based on agenda and aesthetics rather than true critical evaluation and comment. I think you will find what he has to say enlightening.

Reviews (not a rant)

Posted on August 21, 2014 by 
I actually started writing this post several days ago. Except, at that time, I was writing it more as a rant than anything that might be useful.
Let me begin by explaining why I was upset and felt the need (which I overcame…eventually) to write a rant.
Reviews are extremely important to anyone with a product. Books, as you might guess, are products – they are the result of a lot of work, creativity, (more) work and stress, but they are products nonetheless.
I cannot speak for other products that receive reviews but I have seen many instances of where an individual, apparently fueled by a sense of anonymity and overwhelming feeling of power, has left what could only charitably be called a bad review of a book or story. These “bad” reviews often focus on things that have nothing to do with the story itself – maybe the reviewer didn’t like the cost of the book, or the formatting, or they were shocked when a book clearly labelled as one genre didn’t turn out to be another.
Nonsense like that makes my blood boil just a little (probably more easily due to the elevation I live at) and hence the reason for my wanting to rant.
So, that all being said, let me take a moment to explain why I feel that well thought out, intelligent reviews are important:
  • Potential readers will look at the reviews to make that final decision as to whether a book is worth investing time and money in.
    • Inane reviews, especially if that’s all there is, do not help readers in any way. If nothing else exists, a reader may (incorrectly) assume that the reviewer actually knew what he/she was talking about and leave, never looking back.
    • Intelligent, well thought out reviews, whether positive or negative, can give the potential reader some insight into both what the reviewer likes/dislikes and how to approach a book. That gives a true indication whether or not to pick up a book. It also (at least for me) says, I may not like a particular book, but the author’s other works might be worth checking out.
  • Author’s need feedback. Beyond just bragging about all the 5-star reviews one might (or might not) have, it is nice to get an idea of how one’s work is perceived.
  • Reviews mean people have read the book (typically). Some readers don’t want to be the first one to try something new. If the trail has already been blazed so much the better.
  • Publishers, editors, agents (and many others) read reviews. If you (author) are trying to attract the attention of any of the aforementioned types of people, having real reviews is a very good thing.
I know I haven’t captured every single reason why reviews are important. The message I do want to convey is how important proper reviews can be.
If you have enjoyed something, please take a moment to say so and why. If a story hasn’t worked for you, its okay to say so. Just couch it in terms that explain why it didn’t work for you. What isn’t good for one person might be for another. Reasons are important.
Most importantly, if you don’t have anything useful to say, don’t say anything at all. Flaming a book because you don’t like the price or the choice of layout only shows you to be…well, I’ll let you fill in that particular blank.
After all, this post isn’t about ranting.

Michell Plested is the author of the young readers fantasy series: Mik Murdoch, available in print and ebook from Five Rivers, online booksellers worldwide, and select bookstores.


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