by Nora St. Laurent
Authors want them, readers struggle to write them. When an author asks for an honest review what are they expecting? When a reader writes an honest review, what does that look like? First off, I know this can be a touchy subject on many fronts. Reviewers and authors realize that the FTC is cracking down on rules about reviews. The reviewer must make sure that they put in language that states they received the book free for an honest review according to the FTC. This is the verbiage I use on all my reviews: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”
A review doesn’t have to be long or complicated to be affective. They can be one or two sentences. Summing up the high points and/or content, making sure not to give away any spoilers, the review could read saying something like…..
“Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down. The descriptions were so vivid I cried several times throughout the book. It’s a story of two tragedies, lost loves, hope, and healing”
“Delightful read. Enjoyed how the author tied past with the present. Not sappy, not erotic, not violent. Just a good story. Look forward to reading more by this author.”
Reviewers should focus on the story and make sure they don’t have spoilers. I make it a point not to write negative reviews. Books are subjective. Not everybody likes everything. A book I don’t like or just can’t get into another person might love. I realize that authors have spent many hours sometimes years writing books that come from their heart. I’m not going to crush someone’s spirit just because I couldn’t get into the subject and/or didn’t enjoy their writing style. In those cases, (which are very rare) I’ve asked to be excused from reviewing said book and I ask that the publicist not tell the author. (again, no need to hurt someone’s feelings)
There have been New York bestselling authors that I just couldn’t read a specific book they wrote. (In a few cases, it’s been an author I’ve loved and enjoyed in the past) It’s not the authors’ fault I can’t get into their new book. I guess it can be compared to eating certain dishes prepared by a Chef you love. Most dishes they’ve made you’ve adored but every now and again there is a dish you just can’t eat. I mean not even a bite. It’s not the Chef’s fault you are not fond of Kale or liver. No matter how beautiful they’ve plated the food; you couldn’t even try it. I’m not going to trash this Chef’s meal and/or skill just because I don’t like the ingredients in the dish. The same thing goes for a book.
I give a book several chances before I give up on it. Some I can’t get past the first few pages and others I give it the 50-page rule. If after 50 pages I’m not totally engaged I go on to the next. Life is too short to read books we’re not in love with or find fascinating.
I won’t order or even try books I know I won’t like. For instance; I’m squeamish and don’t like to read books that have graphic violence, I don’t want to read a book with bad language, I’m not one for reading explicit sex scenes either. I will not read a physiological thriller written in first person because I don’t want to be inside the head of a killer. So, as much as an author wants to have reviews realize that just like with my analogy of Chef’s not all reviewers and book clubs are a fit for your book. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear from you.
I’ll talk more about book reviews in my next article.
Until Next time. Happy Reading!
Nora St. Laurent is the COO of The Book Club Network Inc. You can read author interviews, reviews, learn about book signings and about TBCN giveaways on the blog she created called The Book Club Network blog, http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com. Nora also does author interviews and reviews for Book Fun Magazine http://www.bookfunmagazine.com. Nora has also run book clubs face to face and online with more than 100 members. She enjoys working part-time for the Public Library as a CSA.