What are your thoughts on book reviews? Are they beneficial to an author or the readers?
I don’t really think there’s much value to having book reviews. There’s an old saying that you can please some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t please all the people all of the time. Just look at any book by any known author on Amazon or wherever and you’ll have hundreds of readers’ rating the book. And those ratings are going to go from one star to five stars. And you’re going to see a wide range of people’s comments on this. However, I don’t know any of these people. They could be anyone. Why should I trust the judgment of someone that is only a screen name online? It’s somewhat absurd. Quite frankly, if you blindly take the advice of some unknown person who has allegedly read a book then rated it, you must not have a brain of your own or be able to formulate an opinion of your own. But I think most people pick up a book and read the synopsis and look at the cover and decide if they want to read it, or at least I hope that’s how people do it.
Then, we have the critics from the newspapers or magazines or whatever. To me the critics are the ones who have never had the guts to write a book of their own and soothe their own feeling of inferiority or their own complexes by tearing down someone else and their work or trying to build them up when the book isn’t good enough to stand on its own merits. To me these so called literary aficionados are nothing. Here again, the average person on the street knows little about these critics. They could have a personal axe to grind with the author or they could be getting paid by the author or the publishing house or PR firm or they may like a certain style as opposed to another and that clouds their judgment in their review. It’s somewhat asinine to even have these and promote book reviews.
I admire anyone who has the will and the heart and the discipline to sit down and write a book and put it out there for all the world to see and take all the talk and heat that comes with being an author. Not everyone that writes a book is going to write a good book. That’s just a fact, but the market of willing individual readers in the world can make the determination of if the book is good or not. Personally, I don’t care what the reviews are for a book. In fact, if some supposed literary critic raves about the book, I’m probably less inclined to read it. I’d probably be more likely to read the book if the supposed critic pans the work. I don’t really have much faith in the critics and the book reviews.
Now having said that, I think that there are some benefits to having an editor review the manuscript. They may have some constructive criticism or catch things the author doesn’t in terms of plot development or character development or flow of the novel. And this type of constructive criticism from an editor is beneficial to an author in that it may give some ideas for improving the work product. This can be good for the author, but I don’t think there’s much benefit to having book reviews. They’re not really worth the paper their printed on or the time it takes to read them. I take them with a grain of salt.