Books from the Reviewer’s perspective

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Most of my editorials are geared to Authors as I tend to speak about what I do, whether as an Author or a Publicist. I came to realize last week that many authors are so involved in their books that they don’t know much about reviewers and how they look at their book. This is why I wanted to talk about books through the Reviewer’s lens. But first, let’s answer a very important question - who is a reviewer?

Okay, so a lot of people think that reviewers are writers, people that are retired and want something to do, stay-at-home moms…etc. The list is infinite. This assumption is both wrong, and right. Reviewers could be any or all of these things…but that doesn’t mean that all of these people can be reviewers. My definition of a reviewer is a lover of books who suffers from reading addiction, among other types of knowledge, along with story thirst disorders.  Yes, it sounds funny, but I couldn’t be more serious.

We breathe, eat and drink books and it makes sense to review them as well, as this will take our thirst to a different level and legitimize our addiction. Some of us are also writers, professionals in specific fields, and that gives us an edge to certain genres and topics, but does being reviewers make us experts in writing, publishing or any other aspect of the Book Industry? The answer is no. Unless the reviewer is a published author or a professional writer there is no reason why one would have enough knowledge about techniques, and the production of books to be considered an expert, no matter how many books a reviewer has read. The truth of the matter is that literary reviewers are readers who read a lot. That’s it. This is actually the reason we send our books to them, because our market is really readers.

So when we are waiting for our review, we should remember a few things:

  1. Every person has a different view, and will take away something different from each book. That is why sometimes book reviews can be so different.
  2. Just because other people have told us that our book is 5 stars, it doesn’t mean that all of our reviews should come back five stars.
  3. The difference between a review received from an Amazon customer and a Review service is mostly editorial. The service has guidelines Reviewers must follow to provide a well written review. This does not mean that it will be a positive review at all, or that whatever the reviewer took from the book will be what the Author wanted the reader to take from it.
  4. A review is just an opinion, that’s it.
  5. Within each review, if done correctly, there will always be positive phrases and not so positive phrases. This works as the author mainly needs quotes to use for the book’s publicity efforts; the author can choose to post only the positive phrases from the review as a quote.

In the end, the function of the reviewer is to read and give feedback. It is on the Author to take the feedback as constructive criticism or as the opinion of a reader and evaluate their own work from the accumulation of reviews to determine if their message came through. That is why I always recommend sending out the manuscript (not even the ARC) to different reviewers to make the most of this feedback before publishing for a better chance of positive reviews to help with promoting.