Thursday, June 18, 2015

Commercial Reviews


One of the perpetual problems with the self-publishing segment of the publishing industry is the quality our novels. In traditional publishing houses, agents and editors review and select only the most marketable manuscripts to pursue, polish, and publish. By the time these books appear at Barnes and Noble, they have been professionally rendered, whether or not they’re to our taste.

As a class, self published novels aren't in the same league. That is to say they don't measure up to a professional standard. Many self published writers, for reasons of ego and/or expense, too often don’t hire copywriters and/or editors to polish their text or designers for the lay-out and cover, which creates a disadvantage for the pool of writers. Oscar Wilde said “All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.” You can apply that to many self-published books. They arise out of genuine feeling, but that doesn’t make them books that anybody wants to read.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble provide us writers a service by allowing readers to review our books online. Ratings of from one to five stars go a long way in helping readers sift through the deluge of choices. Whether or not these reviews are complimentary to our novels, they offer readers guidance. Even bad ones may not be a negative. For instance, if a reviewer complains of too much historical background, I would find that as a positive.

Companies are coming into the marketplace to provide professional critiques of self-published books. Given that nobody is going to read books at no cost for a career, these companies charge writers for the reviews. Of the few that I’m familiar with, charges range from $59 (Readers Favorite Book Reviews) to $424 (Kirkus Reviews). A couple of other companies specializing in book reviews are Chanticleer and BlueInk Reviews. Kirkus has been around long enough to have earned our trust, but others I mention here are relatively new, and for that reason, I remind you to "let the buyer beware." 

The Historical Novel Society reviews books free of charge, but your book has to be submitted to them and accepted before they proceed. 

One way I keep in touch with my grandkids is to periodically send them books. I spent this morning looking for children’s books to buy. I avoid online descriptions and reviews in magazines. According to them, every book is a good one. I prefer Kirkus Reviews' website, which has a section of children’s books. It is one of the few commercial sites where you’ll find negative as well a positive comments. 

1 comment:

Jason shwartz said...

It really is interesting to think about online reviews as something that has really helped us in our choices when it comes to online shopping. Something that I really like that you mentioned was that not all bad reviews are "bad". I personally can agree that if someone doesn't like history and I do then the book that they said was "bad" would be a great option for me. Thank you for sharing this insight.