Saturday, April 27, 2013

What Do You Look For In A Book Review? : From An Author's POV

Today as a part of the Zenn Scarlett Blog Tour we have Christian Schoon on the blog.
OK, it’s a cliché, but it’s true: most authors reading a review of their book want honesty. Anything less is really a waste of their time, and a dereliction of duty on the part of the reviewer. When does this not hold true? Maybe if the author is the reviewer’s son/daughter/spouse/BFF. But no author realistically expects a useful review from family and friends (unless said family/friend has an extraordinary capacity for telling hard truths to Authorial Ego).
Now, that being said, there’s honesty… and then there’s snark-running-at-your-tender-bits-with-a-flaming-pitchfork.  This shouldn’t need saying, but I’ll say it anyway: reviewers, if they expect to be taken seriously, shouldn’t use their reviews as private rant-platforms about issues not directly related to the author’s text. Not if they’re calling their post “a review.” If they label their post an editorial piece about why they just don't like this author's beady eyes, of course, that’s different. Pitchforks aloft and charge away.
So, we’ve established that professional objectivity and honesty are good things in reviews. Not especially shocking news, eh? Beyond these elements, I think it’s safe to say authors appreciate it when it’s apparent that the reviewer has taken the time to give some thought to the issues raised in the book and has then taken additional time to craft some illuminating responses to those issues. This seems elementary, I know. But I’ve read reviews that were so cursory and slight that they really offered no true opinion one way or the other about the perceived qualities of the story and the writing. Or else, they offered an opinion, but with nothing in the way of a supporting argument (ie, "I hate this book - it's NOT what I expected!")  Again, even this might be useful for an author as far as awareness levels for the book in question, but it’s not a “real” review, in the generally accepted sense of the term.
So, I think reviewers in general, at least the experienced ones I’ve come across, feel a sense of obligation to their readers to provide some depth of analysis re: quality of the writing, character and story, etc. Of course, that’s dependent on the sort of blog, isn’t it? It’s not fair to expect profundities about the Freudian allusions lurking in The Vampiric Zombie-Pocalypse from a blog that clearly labels its interests as “unicorns bathing in rainbows.” But, ya never know, you’d probably learn something about your zombies that never occurred to you….

Overall, my experience as the early reviews of Zenn Scarlett came in has been almost universally favorable. The reviews, from other SF and fanstay authors to genre-savvy bloggers to Temple Grandin (one of my all-time heroines) have been uniformly thoughtful, with genuine insights into the book and helpful opinions and information for readers hunting their next YA read. 
And this last point is the key, isn't it? The plain fact is that bloggers in today's publishing universe are providing a much-needed, almost indispensable service to authors. With the deluge of new publishing venues and options growing more deluge-y all the time, there’s a massive tsunami of fresh fiction toppling onto the digital beachheads of the world’s readers every day. Not all of this fiction, alas, is worth the pixels it’s made of. Bloggers are the trusty wilderness guides, forging a path through the dense underbrush, tracking down and bagging books that are worth the bagging. We authors owe bloggers our thanks, our allegiance and… more books! (Decent ones, if at all possible.) So, thanks for doing what you do, and thanks for allowing me to drop by with my two cents worth on things reviewish.

Thank you so much, Christian for sharing your thoughts! :)
TitleZenn Scarlett
Author: Christian Schoon
Published: May 7th 2013 by Strange Chemistry

When you're studying to be exoveterinarian specializing in exotic, alien life forms, school... is a different kind of animal. 
Zenn Scarlett is a resourceful, determined 17-year-old girl working hard to make it through her novice year of exovet training. That means she's learning to care for alien creatures that are mostly large, generally dangerous and profoundly fascinating. Zenn’s all-important end-of-term tests at the Ciscan Cloister Exovet Clinic on Mars are coming up, and, she's feeling confident of acing the exams. But when a series of inexplicable animal escapes and other disturbing events hit the school, Zenn finds herself being blamed for the problems. As if this isn't enough to deal with, her absent father has abruptly stopped communicating with her; Liam Tucker, a local towner boy, is acting unusually, annoyingly friendly; and, strangest of all: Zenn is worried she's started sharing the thoughts of the creatures around her. Which is impossible, of course. Nonetheless, she can't deny what she's feeling.
Now, with the help of Liam and Hamish, an eight-foot sentient insectoid also training at the clinic, Zenn must learn what's happened to her father, solve the mystery of who, if anyone, is sabotaging the cloister, and determine if she's actually sensing the consciousness of her alien patients... or just losing her mind. All without failing her novice year....

Meet the author:
Born in the American Midwest, Christian started his writing career in earnest as an in-house writer at the Walt Disney Company in Burbank, California. He then became a freelance writer working for various film, home video and animation studios in Los Angeles. After moving from LA to a farmstead in Iowa several years ago, he continues to freelance and also now helps re-hab wildlife and foster abused/neglected horses.  He acquired his amateur-vet knowledge, and much of his inspiration for the Zenn Scarlett series of novels, as he learned about - and received an education from - these remarkable animals. 

Goodreads   :  Twitter  :  Blog

You can pre-order the Zenn Scarlett on Amazon now!


  1. Loved this insight into what an author wants. I think I do discuss books but I'm hesitant to talk about issues that might be spoilers so I shy away from those. If it's on the book blurb though, I'll chat about how I felt they were handled. Great to see this through an author's eyes, food for thought :-)

  2. Hi all, and a round of applause again to Nuzaifa for hosting this stop on Zenn's blog ramble. And, thanks to Trish for dropping by and offering your comments. Good point about issue-discussions containing possible spoilers! If I'm asked this question again I'll be sure and incorporate that disclaimer.... :)

  3. Ooh such an interesting and useful post! I'm going to take this into account when I'm writing my next review! :) Nice blog by the way!

    Ruby @

  4. I really like this post. I think all book bloggers, big and small, have seen some of the drama when certain authors read negative reviews of their books, so I appreciate it every time I'm reminded that the majority of authors really do value honesty, even when it's harsh.

    I've seen so many of the reviews Schoon is talking about. Three or four sentences on the actual content of the book is not a review, no matter how many words you spend on the cover or the author.

    I especially love the last paragraph of this post. It perfectly puts into words why I love working on my own blog and reading others'.

    Great post, and thanks for sharing it!

  5. Interesting insight! Honesty is usually best in most situations!


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