Monday, July 26, 2010

Opinions Are Like…

Oh, you know the rest, don't pretend.

During my usual weekend chat on Skype with dear friends Anita and Mirella, we started talking about book reviews. I told my friends that, in true masochistic fashion, I wanted to request a review of On Falcon's Wings from The Self Publishing Review blog. Here's a bit on how it works: 

"You send me a copy of your self-published book, and I'll read it. If I like it I'll review it here, and will be generous with my praise.
What's the catch? I'm an editor, and expect published books to be polished. I'm going to count all the errors I find in spelling, punctuation and grammar and when I reach fifteen I'm going to stop reading. I'll work my way through up to five pages of boring prose or bad writing before I give up. And I'll list on this blog every single book I'm sent, including the books I've not completed, along with how far I got through each one."

Sounds like fun! I figure, what do I have to lose? It's just one opinion, right?

Except, authors live and breathe for others' opinions! We need constant validation from our friends, readers and reviewers, some confirmation that we're not just wasting our time. Lacking those opinions, we wallow in misery, or maybe that's just me. When I told Anita I'd sold some copies of my book on Kindle, but hadn't seen any reviews, I could hear the sigh of exasperation coming all the way from England. Yes, Anita, I know that you're too much of a darling to tell me to get over myself. Point taken.

I regularly contribute to Historical Novel Reviews, which Mirella started two-three years ago. The blog has grown to include several contributors. Guess what we review? If you said, all historical, all the time, you are right. I tend to snap up browbeat the other contributors until they back off all the books with medieval settings. My review of Gemi's Crown in the Heather is up next month. Want to see what else is on my list?

(Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth is missing, but that's because I downloaded it to Kindle for Blackberry)

My summer reading is all set.

After I've read each book, I post a review on the HNR blog and others sites, like Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads. I have to make a confession, though. As much as I love reviewing books, and hope for criticism of my own work, the opinions of others don't influence the books I read. Hypocritical, isn't it? I'm happy to share my opinion of other author's books, want opinions on mine, but ignore those same opinions when I choose books to read. Oh well, I never said I was a very logical person.

When I browse online or in a bookstore, my purchases reflect my mood. Something about the cover, the blurb, or the first few pages has hooked me and made me want to read more. I rarely read a book just because someone recommends it. After all, it's just an opinion.

What are your thoughts on book reviews? Do they influence you? Do you rely on the opinions of friends versus other readers and books reviewers? Why or why not? How often has your assessment of a book differed from its recommendation?

Happy reading!


Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

I have to admit that book reviews do sometimes influence my choice. If I'm searching Amazon in general for a book in a particular genre, and I find a book by a new author or a lesser known author, then yes, I do read the reviews.

However, if I am searching for a book by a favourite author, I don't bother with the reviews.

Funny eh?

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks for weighing in, Mirella. I guess why I don't look at reviews, is because I don't believe they're any reflection on the merits of a book. Take for instance the Harry Potter and Twilight novels. Both authors know how to tell a good story. So what, if I think Bella Swann is a nut for chasing after the dead guy who, upon their first meeting, tells her she smells and he'd like to eat her, and then later dumps her so she can pine endlessly for him? I like the concept behind the story. Same thing for Harry Potter, with themes like, "don't trust adults when anything big's at stake" and "everyone you love dies" - not really the message I wanted my nephews to get when I introduced the books. But, I love the characters and the amazing world the author created. If I wrote reviews of both series, I'd say they were brilliant overall, because they hooked me from the start. Are they the greatest literary works this century has produced? Not likely, but that's just my opinion.

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