Wednesday, December 6, 2023

IWSG December 2023


IWSG is a monthly blog hop. You can sign up or find the full list of participants at this site. This group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh and runs with a full list of volunteers, including volunteers for each month. Thank you, C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!

This month's optional question is: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book review do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?

My answer: I think online reviews are for both authors and readers. I think most online reviews read as subjective to a reader's experiences and values, and because of this, I rarely leave reviews for books I cannot give a nice review for at an online site. If I were to write an academic review, then I would handle the whole topic differently. Online review sites are not remotely academic.

I have given a handful of highly negative reviews, but it's rare and usually has to do with negative content in a book - for instance, the renewed popularity of Stephen Lawhead bothers me, because in his book Hood, his "hero" slapped his love interest and then justified it with an excuse that sounded like the gaslighting of a narcissist - it was truly sickening to see the justification of abuse in a book touted by Christian fantasy enthusiasts so I did leave some comments at online review sites to warn readers.

However, even this review could be seen as subjective and a reflection of my own values, as many reviews left online truly are. When I support a book or like a book, I review it and give it a kind review. If I don't like a book, I typically don't review it, or I don't do more than give it a few stars on Goodreads and move onward. Life is short, there are massive amounts of books in the universe, and I would normally rather spread cheer and kindness than tear a fellow author apart on an online forum.

If you really want to read my scathing academic reviews of literature, I have some old college essays I could pull off one of my shelves. I did not enjoy writing them, but I did what I needed to do get top grades in my classes.

The interesting aspect of negative reviews online is that they can actually help authors. Amazon would not share any of my books in the "customers also bought" section until I had 25 reviews on one of my books. For over a year, my first book languished with 24 reviews. I begged family members and friends for that 25th review. Instead, I received a negative one-star review from a stranger in the UK who couldn't be bothered to write a review without typos, but that one-star review brought me to 25 reviews, and suddenly, my book started selling more because it was featured in the "customers also bought" section. So, thank you, reader who hated my book, whoever you are. You made my year that year. :)

It's wild to know that books with both positive and negative reviews generally sell better than those with only positive reviews (there are studies about this, beyond my experience with it), but I still do not like to write negative reviews most of the time.

The Insecure Writer's Support Group community has been a blessing for more than a decade and I am glad to be a part of it. We come together to carol our delight and dismay on our writing each and every month, giving each other a bit of our journeys and a bit of courage. I am thankful for those who have reviewed my books, and now you know, if you need to give me a negative review, I may not love it, but I will be okay with it. Any review = more sales. :) 

Community News

In light of our giving community, I want to share the latest book of an author who has been highly encouraging, and who I met in our group.

CONDUCTION by Tara Tyler

Sci Fi Detective Thriller or Techno Thriller

Book 4 in Pop Travel series

Blurb: In 2085, cutting edge technology is the most valuable currency, and the black tech market offers high pay-offs for diamond-level code. Jared Nertz is an easy-going ex-juicer gone legit working for Pop Travel Technologies, and just when he finishes his long-awaited Conduction project--the process of storing data in the brain--someone immediately steals it and kills his mentor, framing him for the murder. Now it's up to his lawyer/wife Miki and their resourceful friends, Geri and Cooper to prove Jared's innocence by recovering the stolen tech before the criminal killer sells it. But that's only the beginning, as they discover a darker threat when they dig deeper into the case.

You can find it here: Conduction at Amazon

Congratulations, Tara!!!

News for me:

I'll be back for at least one more post this month to celebrate Tara's book, and another one to celebrate CJ Malicci's latest book. 

I will be taking part in the Indie Book Blitz over New Year's Weekend on December 30th with the Fantasy Panel for Middle Grade and YA authors. That will take place on Katherine D. Graham's Youtube Channel. 

I am back to building Resonance on Kindle Vella. Episodes 20-22 are live this week. The first three episodes are free, if you are curious. 

Also, I have books in two Book Funnel promos going on right now:


Karen Baldwin said...

I like your take on leaving reviews and Interesting that even a negative review could be helpful.

M.J. Fifield said...

I'm so happy for Tara and her latest release! Such an awesome achievement!

I run a writers group in my area where I basically teach a class on writing once a month, and I talked about reviews once and told them that a one-star review may not feel great, but it could still help you out in the long run & even bring you more readers.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Karen- thanks! I definitely went a bit wordier than I originally planned here.

MJ - That's so cool that you teach a class on writing each month. And it's so true. Those negative reviews are hard to squint at sideways (I try not to take them in too much), but they actually help sales. I had a negative review of one of my books, and within days, I had an uptick in sales.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Good Post, Tyrean!

Congrats to Tara! I like her books very much!

Have A Blessed Christmas!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks to the reader who hated my book - funny!
Congratulations to Tara.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks, Cathrina! Merry Christmas!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Now that's one way to take a negative and turn it into a positive. :)

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Tyrean!

Patricia JL said...

You have a good take on reviewing and it's a bit similar to mine. When I bother to review, that is.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats to Tara on her new book! I tend to write only good reviews, which sounds like what you mostly do too. That must have been frustrating when you were at 24 Amazon reviews.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's proof that every review counts.

Jemi Fraser said...

Spreading kindness is important - I only review books I enjoy.
I might, however, leave a review for exactly the kind of thing you did.

Jen said...

I'm the same way with reviews. If I don't like a book, I don't review it. Because let's face it, art is subjective and it's hard to justify all those negative reviews that simply say, "It was dumb."

I love that your one book started selling more because of a negative review! Bet that reader hadn't a clue their negativity would go on to do something positive :)

Have a wonderful Christmas season and best of luck with all your new projects!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love that that one star review made your year. I love that it helped you. So awesome!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tyrean - love Diane's comment "every review counts" ... makes sense and I must do more - and get used to the process - cheers to you and the family, and good luck to Tara with here new publication. Hilary

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds like you had good reason for the negative review of Hook. I bet that person who wrote the negative review of your book had no idea it would help you so much.

J.Q. Rose said...

Love the twist on being happy to have a one star review! Great story.

Toi Thomas said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. My site crashed briefly, not sure why but it's back up for now.
I like your review process. I also appreciate your information about how the number of reviews can affect your exposure.
Not sure how I missed out on Tara's series, but I really think I need to go back and start from the beginning.
You have a lot going on and wish you the best with all of it. Hope you are having fun with all of it as well.

chickangell said...

Sounds like you have a very exciting month planned! I appreciate your view on reviews.