Years ago I came to the conclusion that if a reviewer liked a book, I’d hate it. That was of course back when the reviews were pretty much in the NYT and the Sunday paper. So choosing books meant wandering around in a bookstore or library, looking in the sections that have my kind of book, picking up one after another and reading the cover blurbs and whatever was on the flyleaf. If that was interesting I’d read the first page or two, flip to a random spot in the middle and read a bit there, and ever after Gone With the Wind, I’d read the last paragraph or two.
Then came Amazon, still paper books, but there were descriptions and reader reviews, which weren’t as elitist and off-putting, to me at least, as the NYT and their friends. Only in rare cases did a single reader review make a difference for me. I’d be more inclined to think hmm, 80% of these readers thought it was pretty good. Like most, some favorite authors have always been auto-buys.
Kindle and ebooks didn’t change things much as to choosing books, but publishing my own books did. All of a sudden I was in forums where reviews mattered. Both from readers and from writers, I saw so much emphasis on them, and of course I visited the sites where my own books were reviewed and saw all those appealing cover images and reviews. So I began reading some and sampling some books based on them, although I still probably mostly buy books based on hearing or reading a description of the story that sounds appealing, looking the book up and downloading a sample.
The problem with that method for me is that while a sample gives an indication of whether the book is well written, it doesn’t give any indication of whether it’s well plotted, and I have to confess I get fed up with story lines that fall apart in the middle of the book pretty often. There was a time when if I started a book, I finished it, but that was long ago. Nowadays the minute I realize I don’t care what happens next, it’s the end of that book.
I’ve also begun trying some of the romances that are recommended over and over in the forums, with results that deserve a separate post.
All of which does make me curious about how others choose and what kind of luck they have. Do most of the books you settle down with keep you happy? Do you give up on a certain percent?
Tidbits: Remember how I originally thought the reviewer of Rachel’s Eyes was a guy and was worrying? I got an email the other day from a guy who beta read Rottweiler Rescue for me. He reads mysteries and gave valuable feedback. His email said he had just finished reading Eyes! He liked it and bought copies for all the females in his family. The fact he liked it is great, but honest to Pete, I’m not sure I ever want to face him again.
Not long ago I think I mentioned that I’ve never been much for sending my books around to reviewers, but that I did send the short story to Alain. I also answered a request on Kindle Boards for romances to review that had the theme of H/h who were childhood friends. Although that’s not a strong thread in Eyes, it is there, so I offered it, and the review appeared today on Rose Gordon’s blog. You can see it here. Rose does her reviews on Wednesdays, so if you click on Wednesdays on that little calendar icon you go to her reviews. I notice that she seems to be good about mentioning heat level. She mentioned that Eyes doesn’t drip lust and that one of the other books qualifies as erotica.