How to Approach Reviews with Guest Author Geoff Le Pard

soph-3Hello, my friends! Another week has begun, and it has the hints of promise to be a good one. In fact, we’ve got a special guest to start us off on the right foot.

Today on the blog we are lucky enough to welcome the wise, deep-thinking, and fun Geoff Le Pard! He has some great insights into that thing that we as authors love and hate . . . and love to hate . . . and hate to love. Book Reviews!


Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.


Geoff Le Pard:

Reviews – A New Author’s Reflection

(or the sudden dawning of the bleedin’ obvious)

I recently passed the 2nd anniversary of pressing publish on my first book. Since then 3 others have gone out into the ether and, as a consequence, I have received reviews both on Amazon and on Goodreads, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (and maybe elsewhere of which I am not aware).

my-father-other-liarsMy Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

To begin with I was both flattered and dead chuffed with the reviews, mainly because the people reviewing them probably knew me and were being kind with their dusting of stars. But gradually the range of reviewers and reviews widened.

review-1
– Praise for My Father and Other Liars

What grabbed me were the comments. Some were just nice, some helpful and pleasant and some pointed in their criticisms. But each had some sort of takeaway that I could appreciate and anyone looking at them could understand. So far I’m lucky to have avoided any that are personally offensive – or maybe I’m thick-skinned enough to blank them out.

Maybe I was self-deceiving in thinking reviews helpful, because the early reviews were essentially positive or at least of some use. It took time for people to find my books who weren’t so keen on them. Even then the critical comments gave me something and, more importantly, gave someone visiting the chance to see what that reader liked, what they didn’t and allow the potential reader to decide if the described negatives would be similarly off-putting.

dead-flies

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

I learnt more, in truth from those who found some fault or an issue than the ego boosts, nice as they are, that arise out of uniformly positive reviews.

Some reviews were rather bizarre

…I didn’t like the font…

Some showed the reader’s prejudices more than anything

… the plot was complex so I gave up on it…

But at least there was a takeaway.

And then there was Goodreads.

I have a thing about Goodreads.

You see on Goodreads I have received some reviews with commentary which have been very useful but I have received just stars. 1 through 5. It’s the same on Amazon, of course, but at least on that behemoth the reviews have been accompanied by something else (well so far). See, even if it’s a 1 or 2 star, if it’s accompanied by an explanation then I can begin to try and take something from it and ditto a future reader. Maybe I’ll not agree but I will begin to understand.

life-in-a-grain

This 30 story anthology covers many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during NaNoWriMo 2015.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

But, and here’s the thing that has taken time to sink in, a review of stars only, whether 4 or 5 star or a 1 or 2, tells me the square root of bugger all. It is useless. Less than useless because what is again apparent with only a little thought is that everyone has their own methodology for handing out stars.

As a child at primary school we could earn a merit badge if we achieved three credits in a week. In every school year as I went up the school, merit badges were given out except in year 5 which was the preserve of Miss Hazel (known inevitably and appropriately as ‘witch’). She never gave enough credits for a merit badge. For her it was a source of boasting – ‘don’t overpraise the child’. All I took away from that was that it was an arbitrary and opaque system.

salisbury

Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

Goodreads rating is just the same. Ditto Amazon and any other system using stars (or warts or werewolves or whatevers). For some 3 stars means a good read, for others an average book. How are you meant to know without the commentary?

So, as an author and as a reader I’d encourage everyone to dump the stars where they can but, at the very least, add something to the rating to explain why. I’m as guilty as the next person in my lazy and sloppy use of the stars. But let’s not mistake the giving of some stars with a review. It’s about as useful as a chocolate teapot and as welcome as a fart in a lift.


Make sure to connect with this friendly, fun and inspiring guy on his blog: geofflepard.com


19 thoughts on “How to Approach Reviews with Guest Author Geoff Le Pard

  1. If there are an enormous amount of reviews (hundreds…), I’m not going to read them all. So, in that case, I suppose stars are better than nothing. However, as Geoff says, I have read some 1 star reviews that say silly things about font or even that the cover was bent when they received it. Um…how was the BOOK?! In most cases, it’s nice to know why you’re seeing a 5 star (crush on the main character?) or a 1 star (book took too long to get here?). If you see low or high stars but have no idea why…that’s a tough sell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. When I see that 1 star review with no written reason I generally ignore it. When I read reviews I generally look at the percentages for each number and try to read a proportionate amount of reviews from each…if that makes sense. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. It makes perfect sense. I mean, really, I’m not going to read all the reviews for the Divergent series. I’m just not. And, anyway, if something gets that many reviews, there are going to be trolls. But I digress…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I always leave reviews, although I am rather lazy at picking up a book and reading it. However, I’ve learned how important reviews are (when they are written properly). They do sway me into buying products. I read one review that gave a one star because the author had included a scene in the book where a tree was cut down! I mean, what’s the point of leaving a review like that? Was the rest of the book also only worth a one star?
    I’ve been told to be very thick-skinned when it comes to reading reviews left on your books. I have my armor ready.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Rachael,
    Thanks for sharing the “Great Geoffle” with us, quite a few off us havce adopted him in some way or another since getting to know him through his blog.
    I have bought and read his first two books in hard copy so he could sign them for me and they do have a special place on my shelf. Not just because he’s my friend but because I loved both of his books.
    I reviewed “My Father & Other Liars” on my blog and wrote something highly original because I don’t read a lot of reviews and they can be very “Blah! Blah! Blah!” (as my 10 year old daughter would say!!)
    https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/an-unauthorised-book-tour-my-father-other-liars-geoff-le-pard/
    While I know Amazon has this book reviewing component, I’ve never used it and couldn’t work out how to add reviews. I don’t buy books from Amazon. I am on Goodreads and prior to reading this, hadn’t thought of adding a review for Geoff’s books.
    JUst one personal recommendation for authors wanting to increase book sales, is to do author talks anywhere you can and get people to know you as a person to some extent.Put a face and a human element to you. I have bought a book from every book talk I’ve been to, because they draw me in. As I don’t read a lot of novels, I either need a strong referral from a friend or my local bookshop who knows me very well or it needs to be well known.
    Establishing a strong blog is another important thing. Not to flog your book and to use it as a sales vehicle but to help people get to know you. Quite a few people I blog with scattered around the globe have also read and loved Geoff’s books and we’ve touched base about them through blogging. None of us have ever met in real time.
    I hope this is helpful because I get how hard it is to put all that effort into writing the book and going through the publishing process and then having to change hats completely to sell it but it’s a necessary evil.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such kind and thoughtful words, Rowena! Thank you. Geoff is great and I’m so happy he agreed to come be a guest. I appreciate reviews, but if all a person has time for is the stars, I can certainly accept that. It’s just so nice for authors to know what readers are thinking and feeling. You are so right about connecting on a personal level. Author talks are a great way to accomplish this! And being a “real” person online, not just a marketing spew-machine. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading and commenting today! 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome, Rachel. I’ve worked in marketing for about 25 years but it’s also part of who I am. I am very extroverted. I understand that many writers are quite introverted and the thought of public speaking for most of the population is terrifying but I encourage them to step out and they’ll be amazed to see they’re still alive when they sit down. Conversations with authors are part and parcel of writers’ festivals and perhaps doing that could ease their way in.
        I probably have not enough qualms about public speaking but hand me a street directory and I’m jelly.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I do love a good map! 🙂 You’re so right. I enjoy book signings so much for the very fact that I get to talk face to face with other people who LOVE books and reading, who want to hear about my stories, and who take genuine pleasure in a good story. 🙂 Totally worth stepping out of the introvert shell. 🙂

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    1. My only thought is only doing a star rating when you are either in a hurry or you just have no words to describe why you do or don’t love a book. Personally, I still want those 4 & 5 star reviews! 😉

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  4. I agree,Geoff. Whenever I look at a review I like to know what the reader thought of it. good or bad, about the actual content of the book, not the typeface! ! I too lost a star on a review someone left for my book because they didn’t like the font I used!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s amazing what a font will do to a person! I was reading a post on another blog not too long ago about how fonts can have an emotional effect on people. Interesting psychology… Thanks for stopping in Judy! Looking forward to having you on the blog soon too! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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