This comes on the heels of the professional review organization last week unfairly categorizing all self-published books as “crappy.” But they are not the only less-than-professional review organization out there. I recently read a review from an Indie site that trashed an Indie author by saying, “This is why some people should not publish a book.”
I couldn’t believe the arrogance. All I took from this review was—this is why some people should not review books! Too many reviewers out there think they are the star of the review, not the book. They imagine themselves as the saviors of all mankind in the battle against less-than-perfect literature. But they are not.
Let me tell you a true story. An author published a title with us, a children’s book, and it was an awesome piece of work. It was well written, very unique, entertaining, educational, and the art was top notch created by a professional artist. The story was exactly 1000 words long, the same as every Winnie the Pooh book.
The author couldn’t wait to have her book reviewed by a local librarian, who, according to our author, was their local pinnacle of stardom in the general book review arena. Upon getting her first copy, she took it to this librarian. What happened next was horrible. The librarian did not write a review, she drafted a diabolical attack upon this author; every sentence claiming the story was either way too long, written poorly, horrible art, etc.
The author was so distraught that she never promoted her book after that. And it was all inaccurate. To this day I have no idea why this librarian felt the need to do that.
If you want to know how a review should read, I suggest you to visit Kirkus Reviews, Foreword, Publisher Weekly, etc. (I’m not endorsing these companies; I just reference them to show what a professional review resembles.)
A review should consist of two parts: the annotation and the summary. The annotation will read like the synopsis as the reviewer explains what the book is about. The summary will give the reviewer’s personal thoughts and this is where we learn about plot development, writing skills, and even errors, etc.
For example, I read a professional review recently, which was unfavorable. The first part simply told about the story and the second part said something like this: “The story was interesting but there were a number of typos that distracted from the enjoyment. With proper editing and proofreading, this could be a wonderful book.”
That is an unfavorable review. You’ll notice no personal attack upon the author for having written and published the book.
My new advice is this: Seek out professional reviews, but do your due diligence. Research their other reviews and see what they are writing. If you see an attack upon an author in lieu of an unfavorable review, know that you and your book could end up with the same. My advice would be to forget them, even if they do not charge, and keep searching.
Remember, becoming a reviewer is like becoming a parent. It takes no license, no skills, no experience, and some people just suck at it. And the worst part is; you’re stuck with them.
Neal Wooten, Publisher/Indie Author/Illustrator/Cartoonist