Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reviews - I'd Rather Be in Jericho

What's on the boombox?  Yep, it's a big old yellow boom box that I used to think was so state of the art, that plays the tunes in my basement office. This morning I listen to the classics as I work on the latest story but last evening it was the Zombies as I updated a mailing list.

But all that isn't what today's post is all about.  Today I was griping about book reviews, bad reviews, not mine but another author's whose work I love.  

Now there's lots of good reviews on this author's books and how couldn't there be considering they've spiked best seller lists again and again.  But it's the bad reviews that intrigued me.  What had I missed in a story that I thought was told better than any story I had read in quite a while?  Why for that matter, after I'd purchased the book, did I care about the reviews?  Well, if I weren't a writer I wouldn't have this penchant for looking up reviews post read but I do.  There's much to be learned from reviews and there's much to be discounted as well.

I've never agreed with those writers that say they don't read their reviews, especially the bad ones.  I want to shout, please read the reviews, especially the bad ones.  There's been authors I've followed for a number of books and suddenly the stories slump.  Readers only have so much staying power.  I know I'll stick to a favourite author through a couple of stories that have fallen flat.  After that - well for most, I'll turn to other authors.

But the stories that missed the mark - what's going on?  Could the truth be hidden in an ignored bad review or two?  I know good reviews are every bit as biased as bad reviews.  Maybe it's the whole picture that really matters.  After all how else do you improve if you don't balance the bad against the good - the nay-sayers against the cheerleaders.

As a reader, I'll tell you a quirk of mine, if I discover a well-reviewed book I'm immediately suspicious.  It's that one bad review that puts my suspicions to rest that this is a solid book and not a book whose sales are held up by good will and hype.  I've read one to many well reviewed books that were disappointments.  Of course too many bad reviews and the reviews need a closer look. Is the book controversial and has the masses screaming as a result or is just plain bad?  Either way, those bad reviews have me paying more attention to that author and their book than a bevvy of good reviews ever could.
And for those of you, that like me are hankering to travel, here's a view on a foggy day
of Jerusalem on the left and Jericho on the right all taken from the shores of
Jordan - courtesy of a friend who is currently on the road..

Good reviews, bad reviews, reader, writer - there's something to be learned from them all.

Reviews - read them, write them, ignore them?


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