Monday, 24 May 2010

It's Not Easy...Being a Reviewer!

FIVE HEARTS from The Romance Studio
Reviewer: Brenda Talley

Celia says: Last year, I took on the task of reviewing romance novels for a particular site. My career as a reviewer lasted about eight months, as I recall, enough for me to realize…it ain’t easy. First, it’s rather time-consuming, because I felt dedicated to reading the entire book, and then writing the review. In all candor, I have read reviews in which I believed the reviewer did not read the book, but used the blurb and maybe an excerpt to write a decent review. This actually can be done, I suppose, and by no means am I denigrating the practice. It’s not up to me to decide if it’s right or wrong, for there may be instances in which it’s either necessary or perhaps practical. Needless to say, an author most probably can tell if the reviewer did read the book.

Writing the actual review became a pleasurable creative activity…that is, if I thought the book deserved a high score. Now, this is the really difficult part—assigning a one through five number of whatever the site uses to a particular novel. I found that I actually lost sleep over it. Let me cut to the chase here—I gave more fours than anything, maybe a couple of threes, but if it fell below a three in my viewpoint, I turned the book back to the site. I just could not bring myself to tell an author her book was a piece of garbage and I wondered how the manuscript got past an editor. Well, I wouldn’t do that anyway, because as a reviewer, we should find something positive to write about the novel. Again, my opinion, here, and by no means am I an expert—I know just enough to be dangerous, I suppose.

One book in all those months caught my attention and I gave it a five. When the author discovered it, she was so thrilled she wrote a long message to me, saying she’d e-mailed every family member and every friend she had on the face of the earth gushing over the five. Well, that made a big impression on me, knowing I had made her so happy. But she’d done the work—she had written a wonderful book.

I stopped reviewing books for a number of reasons. One was the time factor—it took away from my own writing and blogging time. I also had to review a certain number each month with no compensation—and I’m not talking about money. Couldn’t do it.

One day I will do reviews again, and I have already promised one site that I’ll work for them when I do. I found that I like it, and I try to do a good job.

All this is to say thank you to reviewers, and especially today, I’m recognizing The Romance Studio for a Five Hearts Review for my latest release, TEXAS BLUE, a Western Historical Romance. This is not the first five I have received, but for reasons known only to me, I have worried over this novel. I had received two wonderful fours, and those made me very happy, that after all, I had done a decent job. But when I received this five, I did a little dance, and shed a little tear. The reviewer was Brenda Talley, and I loved the five…but…I especially loved the fact that she read the book, and clearly understood my plot and my characters. That means so much to me. Thank you, TRS-- 

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
TEXAS BLUE-eBook and Print
Published by: The Wild Rose Press


Lindsay Townsend said...

Congratulations, Celia! 5s are always special and are to be celebrated! Well done!

I agree with you re reviewing. I review for Classic Romance Revivial but not as often as I would wish. It's a responsibility, being a reviewer, and you need to read carefully.As you found, Celia, time is also an issue for me.


Savanna Kougar said...

Celia, congratulations on your FIVE from TRS...I'd be dancing over it, too.

When a reviewer gets your book is the best!

It is tough being a good reviewer. And, you've explained it exceptionally well. Truthfully, I don't have the time, but I do enjoy reviewing and occasionally write an Author Discovery.

The other problem in this current time is that there just aren't enough good reviewers to go around for the number of books being released.

Miss Mae said...

Congrats on that 5, Celia, and I certainly understand how tough it is to be a reviewer. I wouldn't want the job!

StephB said...

Celia, ditto. Like Lindsay, Savanna and yourself have discovered - it's tough being a good reviewer and you've explained just why in your post.

I review for CRR and I enjoy it, but I think I'm also a "reader" and I enjoy reading.

I did find a book I couldn't get through which was shocking to me. It was "The King's Daughter" by Susan Worth. The first person narrative didn't bother me, but it was the incredulous things she proposed in the novel that I couldn't overcome. I put the book down.

I'm glad that for the most part, I haven't found a book that poorly written to rate under a 3.

Reviewing is tough. Some review using a pen name, which is understandable. I got a 1 star review on "The Hungarian" because it wasn't an "inspirational" and was explicit.

It wasn't intended to be an inspirational and it's love scenes are no more distasteful than what you would read in a Lisa Kleypas novel.

Go figure.

Bekki Lynn said...

I could go off on a tangeant on this subject, but I'll spare everyone. lol

Congratulations, Celia! Getting 5's is fun.

Charity said...

I totally agree!! I review books for Christian authors and I have read some that I don't really want to write up the reviews for. Then you have some that are just great books!
I think I am going to slow down a bit myself as it is very time consuming.

Debra St. John said...

Thanks for the peek into the "other" side of reviews. It's always so exciting to read one, I think sometimes we forget the amount of work involved in creating one.

Bekki Lynn said...

Oh, Steph, that's horrid. That reveiw should never have been given -- the story should have been given to another reviewer.

I had a similar experience with one of my books.

Laurean Brooks said...

Celia, I would be like you. Sweat and lose sleep if I gave anyone a rating under 4.

To find a book that deserved a 5 would be wonderful. But if it didn't even rate a 3, I'd turn it back in, too. Couldn't stand the mental anguish I might cause the author.

I'm sure reviewing is fulfilling, but it can eat up lots of writing, blogging, and family time.

Savanna Kougar said...

It's weird that some reviewers believe they have to review a book that isn't the genre or heat level they want, then they give it a low score... I find that so strange!

Celia Yeary said...

Thank you all for your comments. Each and every one had a good point. I agree that a reviewer who gives a low score because it didn't match her preference in reading is way off base--way out of line. For my first nove, I had several excellent reviews, readers, etc. but one gave me, I think a 2--why? Because it was rated "sensual" and she thought that meant "explicit", so since it wasn't she got mad. Go figure.

Diane Craver said...

Congratulations on the 5 - Texas Blue is definitely a 5 - I loved it. Brenda writes great reviews - I enjoyed the ones she did for my books.

I don't know how you ever found time to review books - it is so time-consuming to write reviews. I can't imagine doing it on a regular basis.

Celia Yeary said...

DIANE--first, I don't have children at home--just a sweet husband who does so much around the house--I'm spoiled, actually. Writing the review was fast--easy. Reading the book took time, but I'm always eading something anyway.
One good thing came out of reviewing--I learned there is no such thing as a perfect book, and in even a substandard book, there's something to learn or enjoy. Celia