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. :)
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