Reviewing your own book on LT

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Reviewing your own book on LT

1paradoxosalpha
Editado: Maio 15, 2021, 1:41 pm

Some years back, I started posting in the review field for books in my catalog that I had written. What I wrote there was honest, brief reflections on my motives in writing the book and its place in my oeuvre. I got severely criticized for it by a few other users, who were also upset about LT's failure to deliver the promise of a feature that would automatically flag LT Author reviews of their own books as such. Since that feature has been implemented, I've gone back to my earlier practice, and I've had no reaction against it.

For the first time, one of those self-reviews (for A Bishop's Advice) got a couple of thumbs shortly after posting and made it to "hot reviews."

I'm interested in other author's takes on this use of LT. Does anyone find it blameworthy? I'd like to read what authors think of their own books, especially if it's been a little while since their original publication. I think it's quite possible (and not even difficult) to do self-reviews that aren't just self-puffery.

2paradoxosalpha
Editado: Maio 15, 2021, 9:00 pm

Oh, and I don't assign "stars" to my own books.

3Jarandel
Maio 16, 2021, 2:22 am

Not an author. I don't really mind when there isn't a rating and the content of the review isn't about, as you put it, "self-puffery".

The review field might not be the most appropriate place for "author thoughts" really, but I'm not sure where else such content could go and remain closely associated with the work page, rather than say a discussion post that's eventually lost to the depths after a while.

Maybe LibraryThing members' book descriptions, at the bottom of the page ?

4reading_fox
Maio 16, 2021, 5:58 am

I didn't know LT had finally managed to get the author review feature working! Now that it is, anything along the lines that you've written seems fine to me. I'm sure there will be plenty that aren't along those lines and are just self-puffery, but at least we know now!

5lilithcat
Maio 16, 2021, 8:28 am

>4 reading_fox:

I didn't know LT had finally managed to get the author review feature working!

It only works if the person is an LT Author, because, of course, the system has no other way to know that the reviewer is also the author. Unfortunately, it's those drive-by authors who tend not to bother to become an LT author.

6paradoxosalpha
Editado: Maio 16, 2021, 11:25 am

>3 Jarandel: The review field might not be the most appropriate place for "author thoughts" really

I'm still a little perplexed by this idea. Authors are entitled to opinions about their own books. And the scope of the term "review" has been kept deliberately wide by LT usage/management.

>5 lilithcat: It only works if

Yeah, that's why it never seemed like such a deal-breaker feature to me, although it's nice that's in place. Drive-by authors may use a handle to "game" reviews and ratings, and are far more likely to do so, if that's what people worry about. My self-reviews never concealed my authorship in the first place.

7jdaneway
Editado: Maio 16, 2021, 3:05 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

8LShelby
Jun 27, 2021, 11:20 am

>1 paradoxosalpha:
I'm pretty sure I have seen LTers in threads elsewhere admit that they don't really mind the "author's notes" type of "reviews". There really isn't anything wrong with the content. I think that the problem from the beginning really did stem from the fact that there was no flag identifying it as what it was.

Because although that does fall into the general useage for reviews (and I can't think of a better place to put it), someone's thoughts about their own works really are coming from a different place than, someone else's thoughts. You are writing from the inside and everyone else is writing from the outside.

So when readers stumble upon that change unexpectedly, there is a sort of shock to the system. They have to reorient themselves, and they may resent that. (Shall I do my rant on why 'unexpected' plot twists are not necessarily a good thing?)

Having the "by the author" flag there fixes the problem. They know what's coming in advance.

Now that it is there, I might consider the possibility of doing something similar myself. I am allergic to writing reviews. I am not allergic to doing author's notes. :)

9MythButton
Fev 15, 2023, 2:48 pm

>2 paradoxosalpha: I'm not gonna review my own book until I get a few more reviews on it, just to see if they have any interesting feedback I can grow from later. I would rather review my own book in the contextr of looking back at it and seeing what I feel I did right or wrong. It should go without saying that I love how it came out (for the most part), but I do have ONE criticism which may or may not even be a good one: I don't feel that I subverted the basic fantasy plotline as well as I set out to.

10LShelby
Fev 15, 2023, 5:57 pm

>9 MythButton:
I think once a book is published I'd really rather not know what I did wrong, let alone write a discourse telling everyone about it. I don't even like saying what I think some other author did wrong. (But when we got complaints of typos in the first books we put out, we did hire a different copy editor and reissued the books and we stopped getting complaints, so I guess sometimes it is a good thing?)

Maybe you are just braver than I am. :)

Usually readers are wary of author reviews because they think the author will see the book through rosy glasses. How would you all react if an author instead analyzed the weaknesses of a work instead of praising it?

11MythButton
Fev 15, 2023, 6:10 pm

>10 LShelby: It's all the years of hanging out on music and movie forums. Constructive criticism can be spoken politely, and IMO that's what helps people grow.

12LShelby
Fev 18, 2023, 3:37 pm

I don't think reviews are the right place for authors to be going for constructive criticism.

I think that if at all possible an author should find out what is wrong with the work before it is published.

I'm perfectly willing to tell an author what I think is wrong with an unpublished manuscript -- privately.

Reviews are for the public, IMHO, not for the author.

...I have been wondering for some time now if I could convince myself to write them by concentrating the review on describing the book rather than in declaring judgement on it. I do usually include very brief descriptions of the books I read on my 100 Books challenge threads.

13paradoxosalpha
Fev 18, 2023, 5:44 pm

>12 LShelby:

When I write reviews (often), I try to answer at least some of these questions:

What was the book "about" at the highest--possibly implicit--level?
What in the book excited me (or, more rarely, upset me)?
How was the book organized?
What is the book's relationship to the author's larger ouevre?
What books does it resemble, has it influenced, been seemingly influenced by?
What sort of readers are most likely to find the book entertaining and/or useful?

These all can lead to more interesting considerations than an elaborated thumbs up or thumbs down. And they apply to reflection on my own writing too.

14LShelby
Fev 19, 2023, 2:47 pm

>13 paradoxosalpha:
This seems a very solid approach.

Not an approach that I want to duplicate -- you are already writing paradoxoalpha style reviews, I should be finding my own path. But as a helpful concept, definitely. :)

Hmmm...
Maybe for a more "me" approach I might be able to use the Why do we like the books we like? thread as inspiration, and make a list of commonly liked and disliked aspects, that I want to indicate the presence or absence of in my reviews.

The result would be very different from your reviews, but it might still be useful to people?

15MythButton
Fev 19, 2023, 2:52 pm

>12 LShelby: But aren't reviews written by the public? If there are enough common factors in a number of reviews, the author can learn from that experience, as long as there are actual (and noticeable) flaws in the released books.

16LShelby
Fev 22, 2023, 11:08 am

>15 MythButton:
Yes reviews are written by the public. (Isn't everything? Who exactly is not a part of "the public?") More to the point, they are written publicly. Depending on where a review is posted it can be read by as many as hundreds of people.

Of those hundreds, only one will be the author.

So reviews are almost invariably written for readers, not for authors. And that's a good thing. If the reviews are spending all their time pointing out flaws and making suggestions of where the author could improve, the message the readers are getting is: this book sucks, don't read it!

A wise author gets feedback before the book is published. This is done by acquiring crit-buddies, beta-readers and editors. Crit-buddies, beta-readers and editors are just a capable of seeing the flaws in a book and pointing out areas where an author can improve as reviewers are. But they do it at a much more advantageous point in the process. Also, they are more likely to include helpful advice on how to fix those flaws and weaknesses.

For example:
A reviewer might say: "This book dragged in the middle."

My writer friend said: "Shel, the middle section of the book feels slow, but it's not because nothing is happening. Lots of things are happening. It is because the reader doesn't understand why the things that are happening are important. If you drop some hints as to the significance of what is going on, I think your pacing problem will go away."

Another example:
A reviewer might say: "The prose is leaden."

My writer friend said (of someone else's book this time): "Every sentence in this excerpt has the exact same structure. That is creating a podding sort of rhythm that makes the prose seem dull. Varying the sentence structure would fix this issue.

Readers don't care how to make a book better, they just care how good it is now. The book that was published is the book they are considering reading, not some mythical yet-to-be-written book or even the-same-book-except-miraculously-better. Reviewers are there for the readers, not the writers: it is not their job to teach authors how to write.

So, if you want to improve your writing, look for critiques, not reviews. And if you want to people to actually read your books, get feedback before you publish, not after.

...If after you have done your best to get feedback, you read the reviews and realize something slipped through the cracks, it's great that you now know about it and can fix it. But this should hopefully be a very, very, very rare occurrence. :)

17MythButton
Fev 22, 2023, 2:14 pm

That's a negative viewpoint. That basically implies that a book is either five-stars or co.pletely flawed. Flaws are in almost everything. Even Citizen Kane had a camera rail showing near the end. A person needs to be aware of these flaws.

Also, I was in no position for that. The only person who was actually willing to read it read fourchapters in two years,so I couldn't trust him, and I'm too poor for an editor. And everyone who tells me they'll buy the novel keeps putting it off. I have no one on this field, so I'll edit it myself. I edited the novel four times before publishing, and put it on Kindle for my grandmother's birthday. And the biggest reason why I published it is because I know that there is a higher chance that it's NOT perfect. I have so many novel ideas that I can afford one fluke with potential flaws. I admit to pouring my heart and soul into that book, but if there's something people don't like, bring it on. I'll take it like a goddamn man and improve on it.

18LShelby
Fev 24, 2023, 4:20 pm

>17 MythButton: "That's a negative viewpoint."

Is it?
I'd call it curmudgeonly. :)

I hope you will continue pouring your heart and soul into your writing, that your writing will continuously improve and that you will gain success.

(But I still think that a lot of people pointlessly self-publish when they would be better off finding themselves a crit-group, because I've been participating in online writers' groups for about thirty years now, and I am a curmudgeon. And because I'm familiar with statistics.)

I also happen to have done that whole not having money thingy. ::rueful:: Crit-groups typically require nothing besides web-access and your willingness to give critiques in order to get critiques.

I would probably be willing to read your book and give you feedback, BTW. Would you be willing to read one of mine?

19MythButton
Fev 24, 2023, 6:29 pm

>18 LShelby: I'm trying to be a book junkie, so yeah.

20Marissa_Doyle
Fev 24, 2023, 8:40 pm

The problem with expecting reviews to help improve future work is that in general, if a reader dislikes a book, they don't go back for seconds (i.e. further works by the same author)...and they won't be around to see if work has improved. An opportunity has been lost.

21MythButton
Fev 24, 2023, 8:48 pm

>20 Marissa_Doyle: At the very least, that's partially what the hobnob is for... in a manner of speaking.