I’ve been thinking a bit about reviews lately. I always wish I could get more book recommendations on the blog. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that time is a major limiting factor for me. Not only do book recommendations require reading the books you see mentioned on the site now, it requires reading until I find a book I like well enough to post about it. As a writer myself, I don’t feel comfortable talking about books that didn’t work for me. I’ve read at least a dozen SFR books in the last six months that I didn’t like well enough to talk about them. There isn’t some gold standard of book value—it is all about what you enjoy and I’m willing to accept that other readers may love the same book that didn’t work for me. But, I do think negative reviews are beneficial to readers. A negative review often has something in it that will spark me to actually read a book.
Do you use reviews when selecting books? If so, do you find the negative reviews helpful? Where do you find reviews or recommendations for SFR? Do you think their need to be more SFR review sites? Would you like to see more book reviews on Smart Girls love SciFi? What if those reviews were from other reviewers?
I would really love to hear your thoughts on this, so please comment! (That’s right, I’m not above begging.)
27 thoughts on “SFR reviews, are you getting enough?”
I agree that we need more review sites for SF and SFR. I wish I had more independent reviews from pro bloggers, and Amazon book reviews.
Thanks for weighing in Chris! I’m hearing more and more how important it is to have a high number of reviews on amazon. Unfortunately, most reviewers are swamped with book review requests. Still reviewers and book bloggers spend a lot of time talking about books that are on the bestseller lists. Sometimes, I really wonder if we need over 1000 reviews of 50 Shades.
I think writing reviews for bad books is easier 😉 I tend to let all the good ones sort of sit in the to review pile…. Since I know the authors so well I tend not to read reviews. I read them after occasionally if I need help understanding something or if others had the same problems. It’s MORE useful to point out the bad books — in my opinion 😉
I would agree that bad reviews can be more useful to readers so long as they are not negative for negativity sake and they explain why the reviewer didn’t like the book. I often pay more attention to the middle of the road reviews, because they tend to be more objective and honest.
I try to give reasons for all my assessments for this very reason. Unfortunately, I tend to be rather snarky when I encounter a really bad book but still try to give reasons for my hatred.
I don’t rely on reviews as much as I used to–unless it’s someone I know whose tastes run similar to mine. Lately, I prefer to read a few pages. If it sounds interesting and the narrative is smooth, I’ll buy.
I really love and use the sample feature on my Kindle!
It would be great to have more sites that review SFR. Personally, I like to read reviews after I’ve read a book, to compare other readers’ thoughts on it to my own. Because you’re not comfortable giving negative reviews of other writers’ work, it would probably be best to have an objective reviewer.
I would love to foster more book discussion – why I love to do the topical post that happens to focus on a couple of books that use a trope or such. I think Heather does this too.
I’ve wavered back and forth on the idea of recruiting some actual reviewers to join the site. Just not sure of the demand for it. That might not even appeal to my current readers. Plus, all the most read review sites seem to trend negative–and, even if it isn’t me doing the reviews is that what I want to be tied too? I’m so confused! LOL
I read reviews when I’m considering an online purchase. (If I’m buying in person, well, I couldn’t care less about a review… I’ll just flip through the book.)
Bad or negative reviews are helpful if the writer is specific about the problems. If I read that an author doesn’t seem to have bothered to have the book edited professionally (or even run a simple spellcheck on it), I won’t buy it. (I spent too many years editing magazine copy to be able to tolerate a mistake-ridden manuscript.)
If a reviewer says that an author “spent too much time” developing a character or relationship between characters, I might actually take this as a sign to buy the book. After all, I read books for the characters first. Everything else is secondary.
If a reviewer pans a book because it didn’t have enough gore or explosions or bestiality, I may be not be deterred from reading/buying it. This reviewer and I probably don’t value the same things in the fiction we seek. (ahem)
I write short reviews of 99+ percent of the books I read, posting them on goodreads.com, on my blog, and occasionally on amazon.com. I try to be positive, but I am always honest. And I never give spoilers, just my impressions of the book and an evaluation of how much I enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) the experience of reading it.
Sorry to run on and on and on. Hope this is helpful.
Not running on at all. Great info and insight. I definitely use Amazon reviews when shopping with my Kindle. I also get what you’re saying about a reviewers negative could be a positive for me.
I wish I was more active on Goodreads. I tried to dive in there and just couldn’t get into participating regularly in the groups – though I love the concept of them. Recently discovered the Vaginal Fantasy Hangout group there. Love that they post videos of their discussions.
That’s the only group I’m “active” in, if by “active” you mean “watches the video and occasionally comments on a thread.” I’m waaaay to busy (and selfish with my time/energy) to really follow any groups. In fact, I was in a few when I joined, but I’ve dropped most of them, and I don’t keep up with the ones I couldn’t figure out how to drop.
To be honest, there isn’t much quality out there. There are jewels but you really have to dig deep to find them. I’ve been very disappointed in SFR of late. I do read the negative reviews first.
I’ve noticed there is a lot of poor quality writing and editing going on out there right now, but I think that it is across the board in all genres and I think there is still good quality out there too.
SFR stretches across a broad spectrum of SF/R balance and sub-sub-genres and that can make finding one you like harder. For example, I’ve never been a fan of steampunk, so even good steampunk doesn’t do it for me. Not all SFR I don’t enjoy is “bad’ it just mitght not mesh with my personal taste. Lately, most of the SFR I have liked well enough to talk about has been m/m and I know that just won’t work for some readers (again just a matter of personal taste) so I’ve been feeling frustrated that I can’t seem to recommend a broader spectrum of books.
I noticed Heather at Galaxy Express has started adding ‘tags” to her announcements of new book releases and I think that is a really great idea to help people like me find books they’ll like!
Interesting post. I agree that it’s hard to review a novel that you really don’t like. I don’t enjoy being the messenger of bad news, which is why I, too, only review a very few books on my blog. That said, I will possibly buy a novel that has received a mixed review, if it sounds intriguing enough despite its flaws. (And let’s face it, plenty of fabulous novels get mixed reviews!)
I do think it’s hard to find a good scifi or speculative novel out there, and I would appreciate more guidance in finding great scifi reads. I’ve been reading a lot of indies, and small press books, and I have read a few gems. (Cannot tolerate the ones that have punctuation errors or careless editing though).
So, yeah, sure, reviews and lists of exciting spec fiction would be a good thing!
Hi Catherine! If you’re not already following The Galaxy Express (http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net/) you should check them out. Heather does a post about once a month with new SFR releases. She doesn’t review them usually, but she does try to tag them with specifics like sub-genres and tropes. It can be very helpful.
It’s hard to get reviews for SFR. When I was soliciting them for Silver Serenade, many of the reviewers, in their reviews, said this was the first time they’d read that type of story. How do I find books to read? I get interested in books by my fellow authors over at The Wild Rose Press as they write these types of genres. And I d/c my subscription to RT, where I would read about new releases, because of their policy to review only books for which authors have paid for an expensive ad. That eliminates nearly all ebook published authors who get no advance and can’t afford their rates.
I used to read RT frequently, but haven’t looked at it in a while. I used to like that they would tag the book reviews with sub-genres. I think they have been very friendly to SFR in the last two years, so I have to be glad about that. On the other hand, a lot of people don’t even realize that the cover and feature article is a ‘paid for’ space. Shocked me when I learned that.
I’m swayed by the cover and blurb, and unless a book is slammed in the reviews for horrific editing by almost everyone, I will make up my own mind whether or not to read it.
As far as getting reviews, I now have a message at the end of each of my books; if reader leaves a review and tells me about it, I’ll send them a free book. It’s helped 🙂
bellastreet–that’s a pretty good idea about the free book for a thoughtful review. I hadn’t thought of that. I’m getting sales on Amazon, Kobo and BookStrand, but the reviews are sparse to none. I also have to hookup interested reviewers to my publisher, for a copy, since that’s out of my hands. Haven’t received any arcs yet. I’ll have to follow up on that.
Here’s what I put:
If you enjoyed _________, I would appreciate it
if you would help others enjoy this book, too.
Lend it. Feel free to share it with a friend.
Recommend it. Please help other readers find this book by recommending it to friends,
readers’ groups and discussion boards.
Review it. Please tell other readers why you liked this book by reviewing it at one of the following websites: Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads. If you do write a review, please send me an email at _______. I’d like to gift you a copy of my next book as a way of thanking you.
Joachim – Snarky reviews are more entertaining to read. I know, as writers, it is always hard to hear anything less than glowing praise of our work, but we also have to realize that getting readers to read reviews is essential. If readers aren’t reading reviews they are worthless. So, I say keep snarking!
Toni – Why didn’t you tell me about VF?! LOL
Sorry? Welcome to the club, though!
I’d love more book reviews from you, as that I always find them useful. As for myself, well I actually find the good reviews easier to write, as that if I am going to blast a book, I feel I need to justify why.
Both are useful however….
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