Wednesday, May 4, 2011

6 Types of Reviewers: Which One Are You?

When I first became a published author, I worried about reader reviews on Amazon and other sites. I’ve gotten better, but unlike some writers who say they don’t pay them any mind, I can’t help but read them. I hope to get past that one day, but right now I want to see what people like or don’t like to make sure I’m on the right track.

Over the months, as I’ve read reviews of my books and those of other authors, I’ve noticed a pattern of types of reviewers has emerged. See if you recognize any of these.

The Incomplete: These readers state the book is so bad they couldn’t finish it. Yet they wrote a review. It’s not like eating salty soup. The soup will be salty throughout, so by all means, send it back to the kitchen. But what if the book got better a third of the way through? Maybe it started slow but picked up. You might have given it a 3 or 4 instead of a 2. It’s rare that I can’t finish a book, but if I don’t, I don’t review the book. But hey, that’s just me.

The Head Scratcher: These are the ones who review a book and you wonder if they read the same book you did. Have you ever experienced that? They mention points that are missing that were included, they bash dialogue, characters, and/or plot points that weren’t even in the book. I end up scratching my head after reading one of these reviews.

The Fortune Teller: They hate books that are so predictable. They see the end coming before you do, and you wrote it! They know all the twists and turns a quarter of the way through, no matter how many detours and U-turns and roadblocks you create to throw them off. Listen, there are only so many ways you can write a secret baby plot, marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, reunited lovers, enemies to lovers, cougars, and May-December romance, etc.—in my humble opinion. By the way, they’re supposed to end up together in the end. Would you be satisfied with a mystery novel if you got to the end and the mystery was never solved? I rest my case.

The Saint: These are the ones who give a book a low rating because of some personal reason. They often don’t even finish the books, thus making them a combo reviewer, which in this case would be an Incomplete Saint. To them I’d like to ask, umm…you’re shocked it’s an M/M romance? How’d you miss the two men on the cover or the names Damon and Harrison in the blurb? You do know when a naked woman on the cover is gagged and blindfolded, bound by ropes, attached to a spreader bar, surrounded by five half-naked men and the title is Breaking Bettie that the content will be graphic and erotic and not sweet romance, right? Oh, right, you didn’t. That’s why you gave the author a 1 out of 5.

The Simon Cowell (aka The Book Snob): They’ve never read a book they really, really like, and we should be filled with gratitude if they deign to bless us with a 3 out of 5. They’ve created their own rating system, and a 3 is top honor. They bandy about terms like characterization, goal, motivation, and conflict. One would think they’d worked in a literary agency or publishing house in New York. Not so. They’re simply more knowledgeable about the writing process than we are, and we’re lucky to have them critique our work.

The Emotional Reader: They write essays about the book because they are emotionally connected to a character or characters. You wrote the type of plot they like to read. They feel deeply. Exclamation points, italics, and bolded words are scattered throughout their review. The review is almost as long as the story itself and filled with passionate prose for their love of the writer’s work. They simply loved it.
I know what you’re wondering. Which one are you, Delaney? Well, just call me the Emotional Saint. First of all, if I don’t like a book, you’ll never know, because I don’t write reviews for books I don’t like. If I can’t give a book at least a 3 to show I liked it, I don’t even bother.

I’ve been caught off guard in the past by the content in some books (The Saint), but for the most part, I can usually tell if a book is the kind that I’d like to read. If my chest tightens, my scalp tingles, or the sex scenes leave me needing a cold shower, I’m going to gush like a groupie in my review. Can’t help it. It’s my way of saying thanks to the author for putting out such a high-quality product.

Okay, your turn. Which type of reviewer are you?
Coming May 20, 2011: Fight for Love
Science teacher Rebekah Jamison lives a quiet life in the suburbs of Atlanta. Devastated by a tabloid scandal nine years ago, she ended her marriage to the man her parents never approved of.
Rafael Lopez, former professional wrestler and “Sexiest Athlete Alive,” regrets the lapse in judgment that caused him to lose his wife. He shows up unannounced one day with some startling news, but he gets a surprise of his own. He finds out he’s a father. To get to know his son, he whisks him and Rebekah off to his home in the Hollywood Hills for the summer.
Alone in the house with Rafael, Rebekah’s pulse hammered a warning, alerting her she was at a disadvantage.
“Was there anything else you wanted to ask me?”
“We were discussing how tense you were.” His voice was dangerously low and inviting.
“And I told you, I’m not tense. I’m fine.”
“Turn around.” The words conjured erotic images of him behind her. Her body moistened at the thought of doing what he asked and lifting her bottom against his hips. “Let me give you a massage.”
“Oh.” The erotic image dissipated. “I’m fine. Really.”
“You used to like my massages.” His voice lowered even more.
Magic hands, she used to call him. Once he’d eased the tension in her shoulders and back, he would ease the aching in her loins with firm, sure strokes.
“Relax,” he said, taking matters into his own hands and turning her around so she faced the table. His long fingers began to move in a soothing motion across the knotted muscles. “You’re really tense, amada.”
The initial touch of his hands sent jolts of electricity darting across her skin. Despite his size and strength, his fingers moved gently across her shoulder blades, kneading the tight tissue with the skill of a professional masseur. Having been an athlete for years, he’d mastered the technique of manipulating the various muscles. He applied the right amount of pressure, and her eyes drifted closed. She had no choice but to let go and soften to his touch.
“That’s better,” he whispered.
The warmth exuding from him caressed her skin, making the back of her neck tingle. The slow ascension of arousal began somewhere deep inside her and climbed at a steady pace through her body.
He abandoned her shoulder to encircle one wrist and brought the back of her hand to his lips. Her eyes flew open.
The other hand slid down the length of the A-line skirt, smoothing over the roundness of her hip. She heard him take a deep breath. “Now I remember.” His voice rumbled close to her ear. “Pomegranate Orchard is the name of the scent you wear.”
“Rafe, I’ve already warned you.” She retrieved her hand with a firm twist. A pulsing awareness thrummed through her, making her breathless and needy, wanting him with every fiber of her being. She turned to face him.
Bracing a hand on either side of her, he trapped her between him and the round table. “I’m not good at following directions.”
“Keep your hands to yourself.”
“You didn’t mind a moment ago.”
“I mean it.” She didn’t sound as harsh as she wanted to.
A crooked, unconcerned smile appeared on his face. “Well, if you don’t want my hands on you,” he said, “maybe my mouth is more to your liking.”

Delaney Diamond writes sweet and sensual romance novels with multicultural characters. She loves when Emotional Readers review her books and give her a 4 or 5 star review. Head Scratchers need not apply.
Her first book in the Hot Latin Men series, The Arrangement, was an All Romance Ebooks bestseller. The second book in the series, Fight for Love, will be available May 20, 2011 at Amira Press. Read Chapter one of The Arrangement at delaneydiamond.com. Join her and the other romance lovers on Facebook.


Sarah J. McNeal said...

I really enjoyed your commentary on reviewers, Delaney. I think I've had every one of those arch types review my work. Okay. I love the gushy emotional ones that declare each work I write worthy of being placed in the Ark of the Covenant. LOL
I'm getting ready to read The Arrangement and I think I'm going to love it. Your covers are so beautiful. Oh. Here comes the "fortune teller": I think your series is going to be a huge hit.
All the best, Delaney.

Tina Donahue said...

Awesome post, Delaney - you nailed it - I mean, really nailed it!

What kind of reviewer am I? One that keeps my opinions to myself. :)

Delaney Diamond said...

Thank you for getting The Arrangement, Sarah. I hope you like it! And I'll accept your type of fortune telling any day!

Delaney Diamond said...

Thanks, Tina. It took months and months of intensive study pouring over thousands upon thousands of reviews to put together this list (ha-ha, just kidding).

Thanks for sharing which type of reviewer you are. Hmm...I might have to add that one to the list. :)

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Delaney,
Yes, you did a fantastic job of categorizing. I think I've had every type of review you've mentioned. The one I think I would add is "The Green Eyed Monster Review"-- this is either a person who secretly wants to write and is too afraid of failure or rejection to try, so they simply comment on everyone else's work--those of us who have gone to the effort to put together a book or story and "put ourselves out there." This reviewer knows no bounds and will start by giving your story a 1 or 2 star rating, and then go on to describe how the plot was "too hard to follow" or how your characters "wouldn't have done that because..." (insert the reviewers motivations and ideas HERE.)I actually had a reviewer of this type who commented on areas of the plot that she obviously did not "get" (moron) and at one point used the wrong name for one of my characters. (Yes, I was thinking of "The Head Scratching Green Eyed Monster" combo here.) I've had tons of wonderful reviews on my stories and books, but sometimes those snarky reviewers that have their own agendas are the ones that stick in your mind, aren't they? Thanks for a great post. Loved it--and what an enticing excerpt, too!

John Klawitter said...

In my opinion, those six types you list are fairly negative and certainly unprofessional. Yes, there are shallow reviewers, and my novels have been trampled here and there. But I've also been blessed with reviews where the critic really 'gets it'.

As a reviewer, I myself look for story and a strong narrative point of view. I'm considered a thoughtful and positive reviewer, though it takes time to evaluate and think through a review, and so I don't have time to do more than a handful every year.

Delaney Diamond said...

Cheryl, I've had lots of positive reviews, too, which I appreciate. Even the not-so-nice ones I've learned something from. I've never experienced the Green Eyed Monster, but I'm adding it to the list as we speak. Lol.

Delaney Diamond said...

Hi John, we've all had good and positive reviews. I'm puzzled that you think the post is unprofessional. I haven't called any names or pointed to any specific reviews.

It's all in good fun. Lighten up. Don't be so serious. Learn to laugh at yourself. I have. I'm an Emotional Saint and proud of it.

Rie McGaha said...

I enjoyed your post and agree with your assessment of reviewers, for the most part. And you are spot on in your reply to John.

As an author I have had good and bad reviews. One on Amazon is "anonymous" and although I can't prove who wrote it, I highly suspect a reviewer who I sent a private email to after her review of my short, Greek god erotic romp. She went on and on about the book, her review was nearly as long as the story, and at the last said, "it's obvious the author did no research on Greek gods or she would know that Dionysus' mother was not Aurora and he did not have a brother named Ira…"

I sent her a private email and thanked her for her review and told her I did research Greek gods and because of the horrible story of Dionysus, it was the reason I wrote the book as I did. I told her she needed to lighten up and take the story for what it was worth – thirty minutes of chuckles and grins and a little hot sex. The next day the "anonymous" review appeared on Amazon.

As a review coordinator and editor, I also think John needs to lighten up. You write reviews, great, but in the end they mean very little. I've had good and bad reviews and take them all with a grain of salt. In the end people will buy what they like whether a reviewer likes them or not. A review is simply one person's opinion, which is why there are so many authors – there's something for everyone.

To you Miss Delaney, read your reviews or don't read them. In the end your fans will be your fans no matter what a reviewer says. I am an acquired taste and reviewers often don't "get" me, and that is fine with me because when people do "get" me, I have a new fan who is a fan for life.

Rie McGaha

Michael said...

Great post Delaney as well as your blurb and excerpt.


I'm the kind that points out what I like about a book. However, I wont really review an authors book in depth. I've given them stars on Goodreads which might still be a mistake but Ive never given lower than a 4 either.

Ah... conflicts!

Charlene Roberts said...

Hey Delaney,

Great post on the different types of reviewers out there.

As a previous RT reviewer, I've read books that covered the gauntlet, but in the end, reviews (in my opinion) are to give future readers an idea of what a book is like. Unfortunately, not many people can write a review in an objective manner (how do you review a book you haven't read all the way through?)

As for me, I'm an Emotional Saint :)


Delaney Diamond said...

Rie, your last couple of paragraphs touch on what I've heard other authors advise. I've gotten better...better than where I was when I first started writing.

I hope to garner many more fans like some of you who've been in the game longer.

You're right, too, that there is something for everyone. We can't be all things to all people. And that's okay.

Delaney Diamond said...

Glad you liked the blurb and excerpt, Michael!

Sometimes I'm not in the mood to write a full review, so I'll just write a couple of sentences or just post a rating. Most times, though, if I really, really love it, I'm a gusher.

Delaney Diamond said...

Hi Charlene,

A kindred spirit! From one Emotional Saint to the other, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

James L. Hatch said...

As always, well written. I review, but won't post a bad one. If I can't say something nice, I say nothing at all. I also send the publisher an errata sheet for books I review, not to be ugly, but to provide an independent quality control input on the editing.


Ari Thatcher said...

As an author, we really need to be able to laugh at some of the odd things that get said about our books, don't we? I think you've nailed what I picture in reading many reviews, for my own books and others.

Delaney Diamond said...

Hi James,

Thank you, thank you.

I'm sure the publishers appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with them.

Delaney Diamond said...

Yes, Ari, a sense of humor is a prerequisite to being an author. So is a thick skin. Lol.

Brenda Hyde said...

The closest I come to any of those is the Emotional reviewer, except I am pretty short and to the point most of the time. Part of that is I HATE reviews that give spoilers, so I don't give uch about the plot at all. Now, I'm pretty much just reviewing on Good Reads because it's fun, and I'm not critical. Since I'm a writer too, I can't really be objective like a reviewer who just reads anyways. I KNOW how hard it is to write so I think that makes me look at stories differently.

Diane M. Wylie said...

Delaney, I think your article is excellent. I have seen each type of reviewer you write about, and the green-eyed monster type, Cheryl mentioned. We wish that absolutely everyone would love each book we write, but the reality is that everyone has different tastes. I do wish that the negative people would try to follow what I was taught as a kid: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." I try to live by that rule.

Delaney Diamond said...

Brenda, I do my reviews on Goodreads too. Like you, I've never been one to publicly criticize people, and now that I'm a writer and know what it takes, I'm certainly less likely to do so.

Delaney Diamond said...

Thanks, Diane. Glad you liked what I wrote. Yes, different strokes for different folks. Once we understand that, it makes things easier.

Fiona McGier said...

I've only written a few quick reviews for very short novels that I could read in a couple of hours, since I just don't have much time to read. But I do appreciate when the reviewer at least knows the names of the characters. LOL!

Delaney Diamond said...

It does take time to write a good review, and sometimes it's just easier to simply rate the book. I like Goodreads because not only does it afford me the opportunity to write a review or rate a book, it's a great way to catalog books, too.

Tess MacKall said...

What a hoot! Love the descriptions of the reviewers. You are certainly spot on. The Simon Cowell reviewer is the worst of them. Well, maybe not. The Head Scratcher ticks me off, too. I've decided that the Head Scratcher has reading comprehension issues. And Simon? Well, he just wants to be noticed.

Great post!

Tim Smith said...

Delaney, as a writer I've gotten reviews that covered all the bases - the good constructive ones I learned from, the truly awful ones I blew off and figured the reviewer was suffering from constipation.

As a reviewer I'm sort of what you called an Incomplete Saint. I try to be constructive, no matter how many things turned me off, because I don't want to bring a writer to tears over what is essentially my personal opinion. I always try to find something good. Yes, there are things I like to see, such as character devleopment, etc., but when they aren't there I don't trash the person's efforts. Guess I'm just a nice guy at heart.

Hey, how can I join this group of yours? Seems like a fun bunch of people!

Tim Smith