Saturday, 22 March 2008

Anonymous asks….

Anonymous asks….

Why do the reviewers feel the need to put a score on a review as if they were judging a contest?

A contest is judged by three or four judges, and the final score is an average of three or four. It's a fair way of doing it, since judging a book is so subjective.

I don't like paranormal and would never judge paranormals for fear of not being fair to the writer.

In my opinion, a reviewer should give an opinion but abstain from giving 4 cups, 3 angels or 5 flowers. A review is not a contest and certainly not an exam.

Signed anonymous author.

No, I’m not the ‘anonymous author’ as I have a genetic inability to do anything anonymously. I’m too mouthy as I am sure you are by now aware. However, I do understand why a comment like this would be sent to me to raise and asking for it to be anonymous. Authors are emotional creatures. Yes, I know who the author is and her name goes into the vault as I respect her right to privacy. However this is an interesting subject so I’m happy to take a tilt at it. I suspect Anonymous is not going to agree with the tack I take though…

About three or so years ago, before I contemplated doing the author gig, I decided to do some book reviewing for a while. The reason behind this was I wanted to see what the market was, who the publishers were and what the popular genres and the styles of writing were out there. I didn’t want to be like every other writer. I wanted to make sure my style was different as let’s face it no one wants to read a cookie cutter book. Anyway, I turned out to be invaluable experience. I found my current publisher through reviewing. I also read some truly amazing books and some really pukeable books – but that’s reviewing for you.

Why do the reviewers feel the need to put a score on a review as if they were judging a contest?

To be honest, as a writer, I don’t have a problem with scores. When it comes to books, like every thing else in life, one person’s opinion is always going to differ to another’s so I don’t stress out if I get a score of 3 when another gives me a score of 5. The first ever review I got the reviewer basically said in fine reviewer speak that the book sucked badly. My thoughts after reading this? Okay then…. she hated it and I moved on in life. The lowest score I ever got was a 2.5 out of 5 for Maid for Death. But it was just one grade – others gave it 5. Yet the most important thing was people bought and still buy the book. So what’s to get upset over? To me scores are just one individual view. I don’t see how you can get upset if you get scored a 3 when you think you should be a 5…no one is always going to get a 5. It’s excellent to have a high opinion of yourself but I believe when it comes to writing you also need to keep reality in check. Not everyone is going to love you and your book. People will go out of their way to tell you it sucked – and, to my mind, that’s not always a bad thing. You need to be aware of where you are going wrong. As for feeling the ‘need to put a score on a review’ – depends on the policy of the review site. Sort of similar to if Ellora’s Cave decides my book is erotic or sensuous. It’s their call.

Sure getting a low score on anything in life can be upsetting. Marlow’s Curse got released today. I had a quick look at my author copies to make sure my name was listed as Amarinda Jones and not Anuska Juarez and the dedication caught my eye – I forgot I wrote it…

Marlow’s Curse

My father was in the Army. Like all army brats I traveled a lot and my schooling was affected. This is dedicated to the school official who told me at age thirteen I would never amount to much in life. Thank you. Its nit-wits like you that make me strive to prove you wrong.

See? People always tell you you suck – whatever…move on…prove ‘em wrong. ‘Got a bad review? So what, the next one will be better.

I don't like paranormal and would never judge paranormals for fear of not being fair to the writer.

When you are doing the review gig, you are asked what genres you like to read. When I was reviewing there was no point giving me the adventures of Timmy the wonder cat as he fights Venutians and falls in love with a transvestite elephant as its good bet I’m not going to be interested. There were times when I was reviewing that I got a book and read three chapters and I knew there was no way I could judge it fairly so I sent it back. That’s what 95% of reviewers do. Like any reader that is not interested in a story, reviewers are not going to forge on with it if they hate it.

In my opinion, a reviewer should give an opinion but abstain from giving 4 cups, 3 angels or 5 flowers. A review is not a contest and certainly not an exam.

Yeah but what about when you get the best number of symbols? Doesn’t that make you feel good? And, I don’t view writing as a competition. I’m not out to do better than say author Barbara Huffert or best author Sandra Cox. I’m pleased when they get 4 or 5 whatevers to my 3 thingamajigs. It’s only a contest if you make it one.

Okay – I know what you’re thinking – Amarinda’s sticking up for the reviewers. No, I don’t know them and I have no reason to – nor do I have any feeling one way or the other towards them. They read a book and form an opinion. I just think if the worst thing that happens to me is I get a 2.5 out of 5 on a book then I’m doing pretty good in life.

Contest winner…or should I say winners....

Thanks to all that entered. I did the random throw names into a hat thing and two names came out together. So, that good enough for me – who am I to query fate? The winners are Deborah and Lee – both have been notified by email. Stay tuned though…I’ll have another contest soon. Speaking of contests I was lurking at and I noticed there is an excellent prize on offer there – check it out.

Anny is talking about to blog or not to blog on while I have no idea what Kelly will be talking about on – so check ‘em out
Go ahead: Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self


Anny Cook said...

If written well, reviews can be a tool to help us improve our writing. I try to take away the constructive part and ignore the rest.


I have been asked to judge many contests in the past and from the first I wondered about the scoring. It was never my favorite part. I did like giving a critique and in all the years I have been doing it, I think I only gave one that was truly unfavorable and that was because I felt (as did other judges) the entry was a joke.

When I critique an aspirin g writer’s work, I try to be fair and give my truly honest opinion. If it doesn’t work for the category its in, then I say so. I try never to be trite and while I can be rather long winded, I make my reviews have enough substance so that the writer can understand exactly what I mean.

Yeah I think they can do away with the numbers, but will they? Probably not.


barbara huffert said...

Well put AJ. And, like you, I'm always happy when another author gets a great review.

Kelly Kirch said...

okay, I'm the idiot who loves a score. I'm competitive by nature but not with other writers. I'm competitive with myself. I see a score and think: "I can do better than that" and then go for it. Once I've achieved whatever score it was I was after, then I strive to stay there.

I can't compare my work with another's because everyone's work is so unique. But I CAN improve my own.

Sandra Cox said...

Thank you for the honorable mention, Ms. Amarinda! What a great surprise. Very much appreciated.

I don't know about the three but I do know you got a recommended read:)

I'm more comfortable with getting a review, with or without cups,than I am with contest responses. Contests and I are an oxymoron.

Mona Risk said...

Storidiva I agree with you. I have judged many contests and coordinated twice the FRW Golden Palm contest. When we sent the results back to each contestant we included a grid so that each contestant can evaluate if the judge has a tendency to give high scores or low ones which make a huge difference in the results. But reviewing a published book is different from judging an unpublished manuscript. Giving a fair review is good and useful, but adding a low score is humiliating to the author and insulting to the editor who accepted to publish this book.
To correctly evaluate one’s progress, we should have the same reviewer reviewing several of our books.
I do like Anny. I take what I like and ignore the rest.

Anny Cook said...

Happy Easter in Oz! Have a wonderful day!

Jacquéline_Roth said...

I agree. It's hard not to have an initial petulant reaction, to not get upset to at a review that isn't what you hoped for. But the important thing is not to dwell on it. Everyone has different opinions nad tastes. Not everyone is going to like your work.

And thanks for the mention of the contest. Its at both the Elyssa site and mine.

Anika Hamilton said...

Interesting post.

As a new author, its nice to know the world will not stop spinning because of a 3 something or other. Nor will ones career be over as a result.

Thanks for the insight...