Tag Archives: Reviews

The Thumper Rule

Mark Twain

by Kay Springsteen

Three rules in life get me by. The first is The Thumper Rule (“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” The second is The Mark Twain Rule (also known as the anti-moron rule: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”). And the third is the Common Sense Rule: If you don’t like it, don’t look.

The above was part of a response I gave on the blog of a family member, and about an entirely different subject than I’m about to discuss. However, as I was preparing my article, it was my memory of these words that kept surfacing.

Have you ever made an impulse purchase of a stranger’s book? Maybe it was on sale and you picked it up on a whim. You may have paid 99 cents or $1.99, and you took a chance, not knowing anything about the author, never having read anything by him or her…but the blurb intrigued you enough to make the purchase.

And from the first page, you hated the book, maybe even didn’t finish it. If you had plucked the book off the reduced rack at Barnes & Noble or the endcap of the book aisle at Walmart, would you have found a way to review the book? To tell others far and wide to stay away from this book because you felt it was shoddily written and the author shouldn’t quit his/her day job?

Most people probably wouldn’t go out of their way to post a review of a physical book. At most, we might say to a friend, “Man, I read a terrible book I just picked up at the store.” Out of all my friends and family, I can honestly say, no one has ever said to me, “I just bought a horrible book.” I have, on the other hand occasionally heard these same people say things like, “I just read a fantastic book—you should get it.”

For some reason, I’m noticing the opposite is true regarding reviews of books purchased on line. Actually, more than just books, but since I’m a writer and this is a blog about books, I’ll stick to that. Sales sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and others encourage book ratings and reviews. And some of the reviews I’ve read on these sites range from glowing to downright mean—sometimes about the same book. You can chalk a lot of the glowing ones up to possibly being from friends and family trying to help the author out—even thought that is NOT necessarily the case.

But what’s with the mean reviews? Do readers really feel the need to warn fellow readers away from a book because it’s “that bad”? When I read reviews that stress “not worth the money,” or “don’t waste your time,” I admit to feeling a bit surprised. Obviously the book made SOME impression on the reader if he/she took the time to go to Amazon and write even a short review. But truly, what is the motivation behind a bad review that is not only bad but delivered in an unkind manner with no explanation of why the reviewer didn’t like the book? I’ve taken to clicking on “see all my reviews” on some of the more cruel reviews and have been outright shocked to find that quite often the reviewer in question ONLY writes 1-star reviews with a mean-spirited feel to their words. I’m going to leave you all to draw your own conclusions about that because I don’t understand it myself—there could be any number of motivating factors for such behavior but I can’t condone any of the reasons I can think up for being mean about a review.

The key words in any review are often not even written – “in my opinion.” And yet that’s all reviews are—the opinions of our readers. As authors we’re advised to enjoy the good reviews and let the bad ones roll off our backs. It’s not always easy, since sometimes there seems to be no rationale behind the low scores. But you know what?

As a READER who also writes and sometimes reviews, I try to recognize that what I like or don’t like may not be what someone else likes or

Thumper, what does your father say?

doesn’t. So if I found a story lacking to the point where I can only give it 1-2 stars out of 5, I apply the Thumper Rule (see above).  I do this as a courtesy to a fellow writer—rather than throw them over the cliff and dash them on the rocks below, I simply don’t comment. I do this whether I know the person or not because I believe just because a particular book is not MY PERSONAL cup of tea, someone else may not feel like that.

And while some reviewers may rationalize that they are compelled to give 1-2 star reviews so others will not waste time and money, I invite them to show some compassion and explain their reasons with their opinions for two reasons: (1) So the author can get some quality feedback, and (2) so other readers can decide for themselves whether what you found to be an impediment to your enjoyment will be a problem for them.

How about you? Do you review books? Do you have a personal review policy?

Kay is an author of edgy-sweet romance, a Sr. Editor at Astraea Press and part of the editorial staff at Secret Cravings Publishing. Find her on Facebook.


I Wanna Talk About ME by AJ Best

My all time favorite thing to do it go to my Ning groups.

It was here that I was able to find like minded people.  You know, those wonderful people that eat, sleep, and breathe romance books.  I go into the groups and find a book blog,  and head right to the contact page to see if they have a someway for me to say hi. If they do I might say, “Hi, My name is AJ Best and I was wondering if you do author interviews or guest blogs on your site?
Because like Toby Keith says I Wanna Talk About Me!”  The worst they can say to me is no. (Hopefully it’s not because they don’t like that song.)  If they do say no, then I go to another blog and start the process over and over.

What I hope will happen is a buzz will stir and it will sound something like, “Oh, some chick named AJ Best or something like that will be blogging with us next week.”

Then it will build to, “OMG, AJ’s coming on Friday, I can’t wait, let’s go tell Val!”  Now let’s all hope that this is a good thing.  We are trying to not scare away the readers here.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/  There are hundreds of thousands yahoo groups out there and they are varied in subject as well as in context.  You will have no trouble finding local area writing groups, romance writing groups, sci-fi writing groups,  … OK, so you get the point.

    And with most of these groups they have rules as to when you are permitted to promote your work.  Make sure to read the rules CAREFULLY and if they are not crystal clear and the rules seem more on the terms of mud, sit back and watch.   See what the local yokels are up to and go with the flow.  If you still don’t have a clue, then you may be on my wavelength. Now is when you should take the time to contact the group leader and get all the basics down. This makes sure that you aren’t stepping on any toes.  There are many readers attached to these groups, so get in there and start promoting yourself and your work!  If your publisher has faith in you, you should too.

  • Going back to step #10 (Get Your Name Out) get your own blog, and blog consistently.  You don’t have to always talk about writing and your books, you can talk about your real life.  Believe it or not readers sometimes put writers up on a pedestal.  They see you as “writers” and not real people. (Yeah, yeah, I hear ya!) So get on your blogs and show them your real side.  (Hold on guys, maybe you don’t want to get that real!)
  • Nine chances out of ten your publisher (if you’re published already) will have a blog of their own.  Take advantage of the free publicity man, it doesn’t come around every day.  Your publisher and their team work hard to get your name out there! Make sure to help them along in any way that you can.  But remember, they are working with more than one author, so give them everything you possibly can.  A wise man once told me (and seems he was told from Huey Lewis or Springsteen), “It’s better to have and not need, than to need and not have.”  So give them a blog with cover art even though they created it, it saves them the trip.  Give them your website, I know they have it on file, but that makes it one less thing for them to look up!
  • Review sites are another GREAT source of free publicity.  Most review sites that I am aware of will give a courtesy email to the author to say, “Hey, our site reviewed your book!  Come check it out!”  What they really want you to do is make a comment!  Say thanks.  Common courtesy goes a long way in the real world folks.  And while you are thinking about the review site, hit the reply button and say, “Hi!  Thanks so much for the review.  I appreciate the time your reviewer took to review my book.  I was wondering if your site did author interviews or guest blog posts.  I am available any day that you may have available except for Sundays.  Thanks in advance.  AJ.”  What’s the worst that they can say? NO?  Guess what, you are only out a little bit of time if they say no and it’s well worth the effort to make that contact.

So get your tail out there and talk about yourself.  Get out and let the world know who you are and what is going on in your life.  Let them know the real you and the writer side of life as well.  Get them hooked on you and your writing so when the next book comes out, they won’t be able to live without it.  Stop back by next week where we will be talking about Gathering All Your Friends Around.

The News in Reviews 3-26

This week in reviews

Winning Off the Court, by Abby Wood

On My Knees by Dyanne Davis

Last week in reviews

Stormy Weather by Nancy O’Berry

Binding Vows by Catherine Bybee

April Dawn -Author of Crushing Desire and
Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press.

The News in Reviews – 3-12

This week in reviews

Stormy Weather by Nancy O’Berry

Binding Vows by Catherine Bybee

Last week in reviews
Under Fire by Samantha Sommersby

Double Dare by Jeanne St. James

April Dawn
-Author of Crushing Desire and
Bound by Love available now through Breathless Press and Allromance.

The News in Reviews – 2-26

This week in reviews

A.J. Wilson reviewed

The Soldier’s Return, by Ava Delany

Patricia Pellicane reviewed

Banged Up, by Jeanne St James

The Wedding Night, by Ava Delany

Last week in reviews

Danica Malone reviewed

Sophie’s Pleasure, by Patricia Pellicane

Gabrielle reviewed

Goldi, by Kissa Starling

Belinda Wolf-Whitaker reviewed

Rip Cord, by Jeanne St. James

The News in Reviews – New reviews at A History

This week in reviews

Danica Malone reviewed

Sophie’s Pleasure, by Patricia Pellicane

Gabrielle reviewed

Goldi, by Kissa Starling

Belinda Wolf-Whitaker reviewed

Rip Cord, by Jeanne St. James

Last week in reviews

Lexi Morgan.

To Save Emmy, by Patricia Pellicane

The Librarian’s Love, by Ava Delany

Michelle Kopra reviewed

Elfin Blood, by Gracen Miller

And I still can’t get that crazy guy’s review off my site, so please don’t encourage him. Don’t read the review of…

I Loved a Highland Zombie, by Rocco Lavender

Be sure to join me for a chat, tomorrow from 7-9pm eastern. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/romancelivesforever

April Dawn

A History – Our New Book Review Section

A History blog is taking a break for the week to introduce the newest A History of Romance feature. We are releasing reviews.
The reviews out this week.

Lexi Morgan – The Librarian’s Love 4 sighs

“What ensues is every book lover’s dream: sex in the stacks. The action is hot, the description excellent, bringing you into the scene and enjoying every minute of their spur of the moment quickie. And the ending is hilarious, but I won’t give it away, you’ll have to read it for yourself.”

Michelle Kopra – Elfin Blood 4 sighs
“When Landau and Julija meet, the chemistry levels are through the roof. Laundau finds himself aroused for the first time in ten thousand years by Julija and spends the rest of the story with a hard on, and in return Julija can’t get her mind off Landau and his golden good looks.”