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Arpeggio
05-26-2015, 01:01 AM
Recently I have been writing off to people who are professionals with their own websites but are not book reviewers per se and neither are they soliciting to do them. I offer my book to them for free for them to review. The reviews will get posted on my website accompanied with a link to their website so readers can see an identity for the review.

So far so good, all positive feedback. The only thing is the length of the reviews are short. They range between 18 words as the shortest and 42 words as the longest so far (which is the same length as this paragraph).

Do you think the review length matters and / or in this case is it compensated by not being anonymous?

Tally
05-26-2015, 03:48 AM
I have most definitely looked to reviews to inform my decisions about books before, and I can say with certainty that I have found reviews of ALL sizes to be helpful at one point or another.

It pretty much depends on what that review says, right? Sometimes I run across long reviews that are almost nothing but a rehash of the plot of the book. :/ Which is almost never of use to me personally. Other times, I'll go through a long review that touches mainly on stuff I don't even care about, but one sentence will convey a piece of information that I REALLY needed to know about that book. So in THAT case, the review was useful but really only for that ONE LINE. Sometimes a review will be super short and generic, nothing I needed to see at all. Other times it'll be a short one that sums up perfectly exactly what I need to know.

So I guess I'd have to say that the review length matters somewhat, because you probably want at least SOME hefty reviews. Readers look for different things in reviews, and if you've got nothing but one-liners they're going to have trouble encountering the info they need. But so long as you can get some variety of length, then content will matter way more.

Pony.
05-26-2015, 06:31 AM
18 words isnt necessarily bad, it only takes 2 words to say 'this sucks'. I dont think the length is as important as the sentiment in the review.

WriterBN
05-26-2015, 06:29 PM
18 words isnt necessarily bad, it only takes 2 words to say 'this sucks'. I dont think the length is as important as the sentiment in the review.

OTOH, reviews that say "this sucks" without any elaboration are completely meaningless when browsing as a reader. It's the same as saying "great book" without explaining why.

Arpeggio
05-27-2015, 01:50 AM
So I guess I'd have to say that the review length matters somewhat, because you probably want at least SOME hefty reviews. Readers look for different things in reviews, and if you've got nothing but one-liners they're going to have trouble encountering the info they need. But so long as you can get some variety of length, then content will matter way more.

I think the hefty ones tend to be from those who do it as a (declared) profession, for website content, or they like to review as a vocational hobby. I have a couple of those but it seems quite specific / limited were to get them from. Perhaps I should look for more sometime.


OTOH, reviews that say "this sucks" without any elaboration are completely meaningless when browsing as a reader. It's the same as saying "great book" without explaining why.

So here’s what one of my shorter ones say:

“I got the book and think it looks pretty good. I might use it with my own students. Thankyou very much!”

I guess I can’t be surprised that review length matters, I was generally hoping for a bit longer. I ask for a bit more detail it’s not working so far, but I will try to fine-tune how I ask that one. That said, I think it comes across OK, and the real point I am doing this is that it will be linked to the website / identity of the person that said it. To me that would stand for more than review length (so long as its not just two words) because it’s not an ambiguous comment from a completely anonymous stranger over the internet. I'd hope some customers would feel the same way.

T Robinson
05-27-2015, 02:32 AM
Length does not matter so much as content. I was about to buy a new book by one of my favorite authors, when I noticed that all the reviews were bad. I read a few and saved my money. They greatly varied in length, but the basic content was the same.

matthew86
05-27-2015, 02:35 AM
I think the most important is the NAME of the person who wrote a review. It speaks for itself

veinglory
05-27-2015, 04:25 AM
In your specific context I would suspect they did not read the book and did the minimum necessary to get a free backlink.

The one you quote is not even a review as this person is not claiming to have read the book, just "looked" at it. How would anyone be influenced to buy a book based on a one line thank you note for a free book?

Arpeggio
05-27-2015, 03:26 PM
In your specific context I would suspect they did not read the book and did the minimum necessary to get a free backlink.

The one you quote is not even a review as this person is not claiming to have read the book, just "looked" at it. How would anyone be influenced to buy a book based on a one line thank you note for a free book?

You're right it does look that way. That is the most half-baked one so far and won’t be using it now. I am glad you brought this up because it has caused me to look at the persons website and I can tell many of their photos of "customers" are stock photos while their links have got some spammy link directories. I do examine the places I contact but missed this, so there's hindsight for me.

In my first contact email I don't mention a link at all, only mentioning it after they give their feedback. This particular one gave me nothing more once I replied to their initial apparent positive feedback (which may indeed have just been lip service) saying that I would link their review to their website.

Regarding your words "claiming to have read" another positive one includes: "I looked through the book thoroughly" although doesn't give any info about the book in the rest of the review to prove they read it. I always ask for a bit more detail such as what they liked about it, I will fine-tune my request to be more diplomatically assertive from now on, I think I may have been too open ended before.

All said, I’d think that shorter reviews can be OK so long as all the reviews aren’t like that as Tally implied earlier. A positive review being short and lacking detail could mean it is somehow disgenuine but it could also mean that the person liked it but aren’t very good at / didn’t bother to articulate details.

It seems as though many (not necessarily here) think that short reviews and ones with no text are fake (personally I think fake reviews come in all forms, short and long). On websites where customers only need to click for a star rating I tend to get rated, the option is there to add text but they rarely do and if they do it's usually one or two words. I know these are likely to be real reviews because I didn’t post them and they are positive 5 and 4 stars (I know that sounds convenient but if they were negative they could be real also OR from competitors).

veinglory
05-27-2015, 06:07 PM
To me "looked through" even "thoroughly" does not mean "read". I would stick to only using ones clearly reflecting that the person read and enjoyed the book.

Arpeggio
05-27-2015, 08:51 PM
To me "looked through" even "thoroughly" does not mean "read". I would stick to only using ones clearly reflecting that the person read and enjoyed the book.

I should mention it's a 38 page large trim method book for beginners with over 50% diagrams. If it was a 160 page novel I would be even more concerned. I see your books have long reviews on Amazon many of which are by bloggers who review by vocation. In my non-fiction genre that barely exists not that I'm not going to try that route as well. I still think the social proof should stand for something for a short review, compared to reviews on retailer websites which are mostly anonymous. It has been a little disappointing so far, hopefully more will come in with higher word counts in the near future.

Pestilence
06-12-2015, 04:44 PM
Capsule reviews can be just as good as lengthy ones -- and equally as poor, depending on the reviewer. It's not the length that matters... it's what you do with the words. I'd expect at the very least that any review gives the reader a decent overview of what to expect from the book, what they're going to get out of it, and where it might drop the ball.

Arpeggio
07-04-2015, 01:18 AM
Going well so far, ranging between 18 words and 200+ words. One of them posted their review on Amazon (5 stars), it wasn't easy thinking of a way of asking them to remove it from there.