Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Posing a question about publishing and reviews:

I've been seeing a lot of posts lately about negative vs. positive reviews, and while everyone seems to have a brilliant argument for or against them, the subject has left me with a question...

I have not seen any of the posts in question, so I don't know if the initial complaint was against readers who receive ARCs and leave negative reviews, readers who give negative reviews to books they've purchased, or both. So my question may or may not relate to the debate at hand, but here it is:

I've been blogging about books for less than two years and I confess I don't know very much about the publishing industry as a whole. When the publishers send out ARCs for review, I assume they want a true opinion of the book; they're not just looking for a nice quote to put in the author's next book, right? Does the publisher look at all the reviews and give the writer feedback? Things like, "readers didn't care for a circus clown as a heroine", or "telling a love story from the neighbor's poodle's POV didn't go over well". Or, are they just trying to see where trends are going ("the readers wished the vampire was a gay robot cowboy")? Or... do they just go by sales numbers when they make their decision as to whether or not to continue a relationship with a writer?

I don't know if there is one answer or if every situation is different. But...I am curious!


  1. Well, I gave one really negative review of an ARC that everyone else loved, but I hated, and never heard from that contact again. However, I have another publisher who doesn't mind negative reviews at all.

    So to answer your question-I think some publishers don't mind negative reviews and share them with their authors, while others don't hide them per say, but don't share them either. That wasn't very helpful, was it?

  2. No clue about the ARCs, but a lot of the kerfuffles started over authors freaking out over negative reviews (or even decent reviews that weren't 5 stars).

  3. Hey Patti! I've been quietly lurking in my RSS Reader and I've followed some of the posts on reviewing issues and from what I can tell the the neg. reviews cover a broad spectrum. Back when I was reviewing regularly, I had the same experiences as A Buckeye Girl Reads with pubs based on my ratings on reviews. I've also had an author comment on my review on Goodreads, saying she was disappointed about how I felt about her book. And another time an author called attention to my review of his book on his blog, in a not so flattering way because I thought his book was okay. No-win. :(

    I don't think anyone will find that magical place of the "perfect" review. Reviews are like a catch-22 because everyone's reading experience is a different journey for them. Plus with all the different personalities writing reviews, there will be different opinions whether they are expressed well or poorly.

  4. gay robot cowboy - I'd totally read that :)

    All I know is that when a book is at the ARC stage, it's a sure thing that it's going to be published. Regardless of what the general feedback is. Reviews can often help with things like genre-classification. If something was being touted as 'fantasy' but every reviewer out there claimed it was 'urban fantasy' then that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for marketing.

    Sometimes ARCs are sent out to get a puff - the credible accolade that you can publish on the first few pages, i.e.: "I was up all night reading this book! - Book Addict".

    Or publishers just want to get a buzz going. Book sales are often slow going. It takes a long time for word to get out about a book - I can guarantee that Twilight's success was thanks in large part to people on the internet saying "hey, you have to check this book out!"

  5. I usually post my opinion regardless if they are ARCs. Like you, I am under the impression they want an honest review. I even stated that if I don't like the book, which there have been times, I didn't that I would say it...but, I also said, I would stipulate as to why it didn't do anything from me...that doesn't mean someone else wont see it as a great read...to each his own and all that. One man's trash another man's treasure...you know?

    If the publisher or author doesn't come back...it is no sweat off my back...at least my blog remains crediable.

  6. I give an honest opinion no matter the source of the book. I have no idea if publicists have given the author feedback or not. I'm inclined to say no but I really have no reason for why I think so.

  7. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to reviews. If a reviewer intends to keep his/her intact, then that's the only way it should be.

  8. Thanks everyone! I know there's no right or wrong answer, but I was just wondering what they do with the information :)