To review or not to review

As an established children’s writer my background is mainstream/traditional. My children’s books have followed this route, the criteria for success being paperback sales and acceptance by the establishment. Not reviews because it’s rare for young children to write reviews. So my attitudes and judgements tend to be mainstream and somewhat old-fashioned.
to reviewI am now writing for a different audience, YA and Adult, and publishing on line. Here, for newcomers, it takes time to become established, with book sales dependent on your skills at marketing and I have joined many groups and as a consequence have become heavily involved with both reading and reviewing. I have now quit on the reviewing, simply because I am don’t understand the expected on-line criteria for judging a book.

 The rules I apply to all books, whether traditionally published or not, are broken into 4 categories: presentation, linguistic ability, (grammar and style), a credible and cohesive story line, and general enjoyment.
Should I continue in this way? Should I judge an Ebook at the same level as a paperback traditionally published? I honestly don’t know. For instance, if the typesetting is poor, do I ignore and still give 4* because the story is okay? If sentences and grammar leave a lot to be desired, what then? If the story meanders …?

What are the main aims of our writing to self publish? Are most on-line scribblers obeying the age-old instinct that everyone has a book in them? Are they simply writing to see their name in print, or writing for fun and asking to be judged solely on the enjoyment factor? Or are they seeking to be judged on the same platform as books from a traditional publisher?

What has become apparent through my on-line presence is that there are two book worlds with success stories in both: traditional or mainstream with paperback as the main focus and self-published Ebooks on line.

Mainstream is the most difficult to crack. Few books are being accepted by agents and of those only a handful ever sell. Not because they are not as good, but simply because the bookshops make more money if they stick with titles that offer the greatest discounts.  However, the great ‘lure’  of this format is acceptance as a writer. There remains a vast level of snobbishness in the book world, the harbinger for success, especially in the UK I can’t speak for other countries, is still to be formally published in paperback and stocked in shops. Only then can you be recognized as ‘a real writer’ by teachers, parents, and the powers-that-be, and added to their list of authors-into-schools.

However, if we go along the alternative route, second world of writing, a virtual on-line presence and readers en mass, are the four criteria I laid out above still relevant? And does it matter anyway? There is a vast appetite for Ebooks, and incomes to be gained from on-line sales. Does it therefore matter what the book is like, as long as it sells?

Maybe not! But that still doesn’t solve my problem with reviewing.

And this is why I have stopped reviewing. When reading a book, I simply don’t know what the author is seeking to achieve with his/her writing and therefore I don’t know how to judge it.
This post is Contributed by Author Barbara Spencer

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4 Responses

  1. I am the self publishing author and i understand how review is important. More important is the content in the post. In my view exposing the book to higher number of audience by using multiple means is far important then review. Thanks for the interesting article.

  2. I understand what you are saying about writing a book review. I resolved the issue for myself by creating a review rubric for fiction books. It has helped immensely. Now if an author asks me to write a review of his or her book, I can send the link to my website on which my review rubric is posted. It provides them a preview of what my criteria are and gives them the opportunity to withdraw their request, if they wish.

  3. Hi to everyone I Am The Author of Help Me To Live Right written by Kenneth Mitchell Now who don’t need HELP. We all need some type of HELP so why not read and study TO show yourself approved for The Kingdom Of Heaven.

  4. Avi benbenisti says:

    The Queen Anna Maria sailed out of Haifa Israel on route to the Usa. I was nine years old. First stop the juice bar. My first Coke. What a memmory.

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