The Critiquer versus the Reviewer

An author I've become more familiar with referenced this blog post - Business Rusch Perfection for all newbie writers to read. I'm not a writer nor do I believe I will ever be a published one.  Still, I went to this site and read the article.  There were some very good points to it.  Specifically on how readers enjoy books, even if they are not grammatically correct or edited.  Basically readers enjoy books so they read for their own pleasure.  I do agree with this because there are many books I've loved that others hated.  Not everyone has the same tastes.  If we did, it would be a boring world.

Now, from there she goes on about critiquers.  She mentions that people who receive a free book are LESS likely to give it a good rating than when they pay for it due to some kind of "investment" feeling.  Critiquers get the manuscript for free and they’re asked to criticize it.

I don't really know if she's talking about Beta readers or ARC readers or reviewers.  I do know, that as a beta reader, I am more critical.  It also depends on the author's I beta read.  A couple of them are so polished that I don't need to do much except squeal in excitement and demand to know when the book will be published.  One or two authors, I cringe and go through each point succinctly with examples of why something did not work for me and how I would have liked to see it instead.  For the most part, I complete a beta form I created.  The author reviews it and can take it or leave it.  Doesn't matter to me.  No rating or review is provided by me until after I read the finished product.

As an ARC reader which is few and far between, the book is already polished.  I generally enjoy these.  I'm very thankful and grateful an author would be kind enough to gift me with an advance reader copy.  It thrills me.  This is when I will write a review and provide a rating.  I'm actually a bit more gentle for this one and I'll usually provide a copy of the review to the author to see if they are okay with me posting it and if they want to use key sentences on their website.  This is their livelihood after all.  I don't want to negatively impact sales.

As a reviewer for three different websites, I do receive free books.  I even created a spreadsheet which tracks how long it took for me to write the review once I received the book.  All sorts of fun metrics are tracked since I'm a geek at heart.  These books, I review no differently than an ARC.  I do tend to be a bit more lenient because the book is free and I personally feel bad if I give a rating less than two for a free book.  I don't trash the book or the author.  It pains me to write a review for 2 or 1 star.  I try to do my best with constructive points to help explain what caused me to not enjoy the book and what I would have enjoyed reading instead.  For those who know me, I'm a consistent rater and it's not frequent I will give a 4 or 5 star.  This does not mean I didn't enjoy the book if it is a 3 star.  In fact, many books I enjoyed are a 3 star.  My reviews reflect the enjoyment and my recommendations to others.

The people who know me through my reviews also know my rating and review systems.  When they see a 4 or 5 star, it catches their eye because it means the book was special to me.  I find that if I give every book I enjoyed a 4 or 5 star, it devalues the rating.  Then again, I'm known for being critical.

Now that I've explained how I rate and review, I want to get back to Ms. Rusch's point that people who receive free books aren't vest in it and more likely to trash the book.  (I did kind of wanted to tell her, "Fuck you" when I read that point.) That may be for many reviewers, it is not for me.  In fact, if I bought the book, I'm going to be much harder in my rating and review.  If I paid good money for something, I expect it to be damn good.  If it isn't, then I'm going to be disappointed and my review and ratings will reflect it.  This long winded post was prompted by an unintentional trigger Ms. Rusch released when she mentioned how reviewers treat paid versus non paid books different.  It is true that I do, but in the opposite way that she indicates it.

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