After some debate, I came up with an idea and I wanted to get a little feedback.


My little company is moving into digital custom publishing associated our content marketing services, and as such, we need some sample custom sites - a showpiece if you will.


Over the years, having been a newspaper and magazine publisher, I've often thought of starting a mystery publication of some type, and I'm wondering if I can't kill two birds with one stone.


Budget and resources are absolutely available, and as a showpiece for my company, the "digital publication" would not be required to generate revenue. Rather, the sole focus would be on quality and "doing it right" to demonstrate our capabilities to potential clients.


Of course this is all still speculative as I could change my mind, however, I have a question or two.


I have read more than once the opinion that there is a great need for more reviews and reviewers.  So I guess my question is what would constitute a good mystery novel review site? Is it more important to have a small core of trusted reviewers, or open it up to multiple (but edited/monitored) reviewers? How about comments in response to reviews such as with a blog? Is it important to have a sample of all sub-genres reviewed, or a heavier focus on more popular ones? How do you feel about multimedia reviews, such as video or audio reviews?


Any other general thoughts about what makes or breaks mystery reviews and/or review sites?





Views: 47

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The most important thing is for the review to be detailed and balanced. An all-positive or all-negative review is useless as I have no way to gauge the reviewers tastes. Most reviews these days are little more than plot summary as well, so avoiding that is key.


What the crime fiction really needs, though, is a fiction magazine that actually pays its writers. 

John, that's true. But before that, you need readers who will pay for a fiction magazine. Or advertisers who have a reason to spend the amount of money to make it free for readers. You can't pay real money to writers if you don't have a real revenue stream. The model can't be complicated, either.
There are many science fiction magazines that do it, paying 5 cents a word or more. Some of them are backed by publishers, others use donations.
AHMM and EQMM still pay, don't they?
Yeah, I meant besides them.

Clay, it sounds like you're considering doing two different things. One is publishing e-books, the other is starting a review site. Right?


At least for the review site, I'm partial to anyone who does more than regurgitate the synopsis, followed by an overwritten mutation of "I liked/hated it." You know when a reviewer is just putting a post up, and when he/she is in it for the love of books.

On my review site, I try to analyze four aspects of the book. The Plot, the Characters, the Dialogue, and the Writing. Is the plot standard, fresh, stretching reality, exciting, blase? Are the characters defined, are they unique? Is the dialogue fitting to each character? (I mean you aren't going to have James T. Kirk say, "Uh, gosh, I'm really not sure if we should shoot the Klingon or invite him over for tea.") Finally, what is the writing style? Detailed, wordy, long passages, too technical, too many fragmented sentences, inappropriate punctuation, etc. I try to stay relatively positive and not simply trash the book just because I don't like it. However, if the book is simply bad (unrealistic plot, inane sounding characters, B-movie dialogue, and bad editing or plain bad writing) I'll let you know. I give a rating to what I think the book deserves. Please check it out at Thanks. I'm just getting started, thus I'm still in the learning process and developing my reviews, but I still think they're pretty good.

In order for the site to be important, you have to get readers.  A variety of reviews, plus a comment section, plus perhaps a few other gimmicks, like having reader requests or reader votes, or special topic weeks, should take care of that.

Secondly:  Nobody needs bad reviews.  If the book is bad, don't review it. Negative comments are proper for bestselling authors, if they get lazy and blow it. You can't hurt them.  The rest of us already have too hard a time staying published.


The most useful reviews give a brief idea what the book is about (no plot summary), and then touch on particular aspects that stand out.


For me, the greatest reviews have always been the ones that got what I was trying to do with character or theme.


Lastly, and irrelevantly: I wish Amazon reviewers would realize that a good review should get 5 stars or the author's average will be damaged. I have any number of very flattering reviews, where the reviewer decided to give only a 4, perhaps on the principle that nothing is perfect. 

Having a 4.76 average, for example, is better than a straight 5 any day. The only authors with a 5-star average are the ones who write their own reviews or have few reviews. A 4.76 means people are reading you.
Well, that's not always the case.  Though I grant you there's a lot of cheating going on in some areas.

I look for lavish adoration, but will take anything I can get.

One thing that drives me nuts is positive reviews that are too vague to get a blurb out of.  Don't they realize that if they say  "Simply amazing!"  or  "Resets the default for modern fiction!"  you will quote them on your site and cover and probably CafePress underwear designs?

"Simply amazing!"  says Potawattamie Daily Dudgeon   works better than some chunk of drivel from some bigger deal paper.

Clay, my first criteria for a good review is that the reviewer is literate.  So many reviews I see indicate that: a) the reviewer doesn't write much, if at all; b) the reviewer doesn't know the genre, and doesn't give a hoot; c) the reviewer doesn't know how to review. 


My second criteria (mostly hit on by others but critical) is that the review be something other than: a) I like this; b) plot summary; c) any other useless and idiosyncratic info the reviewer wishes to throw in.


In answer to your questions:

  1. I'd like to see a cadre of trusted reviewers, who become like characters in a B-grade, true crime novel to me, so I will be persuaded to revisit the review site (sorry, can't resist the urge to be sarcastic, but you get my point, I hope: I want to see faces/brains I want to get to know and have a relationship with).
  2. Comments in response to reviews?  Well, certainly.  
  3. And . . . I'd cover sub-genres, but make sure I reviewed the best of those.
  4. Multimedia reviews?  They'd better be good and load fast.

Hope this helps.  I won't use BSP, but I review based on authors' use of tropes, sort of what I.J. is suggesting.  How well do they write?  What is their style?  What tropes do they use.  As a semi-literate reviewer, I expect nothing but the best, or I won't return to a review site. 


CrimeSpace Google Search

© 2024   Created by Daniel Hatadi.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service