Are you guys finding the review swaps useful?


  1. Grey (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Not a problem, Sten. I simply wanted to clear up any ambiguity, and I hope that glimpse into the nuances of the term is somehow useful to you.
    I'm going to shut up rather than veer further off topic now.

    Slightly closer to topic, if anyone does want constructive criticism feel free to hit me up. This looks like a community which largely understands the benefits of the practice (I have been told by some people that art is immune to constructive criticism by virtue of being art).

    I write games and guides, too.
  2. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Grey - The people who say that are usually bad artists.

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  3. Tintenteufel (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Just to tune in without me having participated in any way, shape or form in the recent swaps:
    This thread made me think about what I as a critic want to do with a critique. I like writing them, even if not asked, but I mostly just evaluate the book on my own.

    I think there is quite a bit of overlap within the two ideas - review for readers and literary critique:
    Good writing style, pacing and fleshed out characters are always interesting. For readers because they make up the meat of the story and for writers since they allow me to learn. However there is a fundamental difference between review and critique:
    As a reader I want to know if the story is worth my time. Would I enjoy the content given these circumstances? Is it gripping enough, is it written with grace and style and fluidity or does it slough along? Is the plot enjoyable and does it ring a bell for me as a fantasy fan or is it more like Hardcore Sci-Fi with elves?
    As a writer I care a lot more about context and structure. The form so to speak. Is it innovative? Does the style fit what he is trying to say, is the plot original or not? Does it have artistic merit or is it a derivative but enjoyable piece of mass production like the umpteenth Drizzt Do'Urden?

    I do enjoy tearing into a work, laying bare its flaws and shortcomings and pointing out its weakspots. That's when I as a writer can grow, where I can understand how and WHY even good books may fail in some regards. That would be of no use however if my friend wanted to know whether or not this book is worth his time.
    Even really bad books can teach a lot - but only if the reader reads it with that intention and not to be entertained.

    tl;dr: A critique is for writers or learned men and women who want to examine the inner workings. A review tells me whether or not I could actually enjoy it for what it is on the surface.

    Regarding the language: I'm confused now. In german there is a bit of a muddling in the meaning, too, especially since Kant used and popularised the word Kritik in an old fashioned way since theen it means both a negative review of something and a fair assessment - which is what I'd call a critique.
    For strictly negative criticism there's however a beautiful word I'd like to share: Verriss (subject of "zerreißen" - ripping apart). Something along the line of slam. A damning review which tears down the object of his judgment. :D
    Anyway, couldn't help it. Sorry, language junky.

    @Tartra: The people who say what?

    Blut und Rost - German Webserial about the horror that is human interaction
  4. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Tinten - :P I was just ribbing Grey on what he said he's been told, about art being immune to constructive criticism.

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  5. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    This is a little out of the way, but one thing I've seen a little bit recently are a couple "placeholder reviews" for Continuum. I don't know if they're related to this, but they seem to be by some of the same people. They don't seem like the sort of thing the review system is for.

  6. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @PG - Yeah, I noticed that, too. The ones where it's actually a review but hasn't been rated? Totally fine. The one where it's actually titled 'Placeholder'...? :/

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  7. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Chrysalis: it was six months ago, so I don't really remember. The review seems fine, just looking at it now. Could have been there was a lot of review swaps going on at the time, and something about the general character of the batch had me wary of them. Could have been I'd put another Anathema review up around about the same time. Can't say for sure.

  8. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago


    I mean the two for Continuum on November 13: and

  9. Tartra (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @PG - Tana's seems fine. It might not be to his personal standards but that reads like a review to me. I don't get what Whynot was going for, though. If you don't have a review ready, then... don't post a review...?

    The Other Kind of Roommate — Like Fight Club meets X-Men meets The Matrix meets Superbad.
  10. Patrick Rochefort (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I'm definitely guilty of putting 'Critique for the writer' ahead of 'Review for the reader'! I stick to my scaffold of "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" because it lets me get out the highlights and lowlights early.

    Tartra asked:

    >So, are you guys actually getting what you want out of the trades?

    Yes. Eyeballs on the story. As others have already analyzed before, *ANY* review on a story is a big bump in viewership. A 5-star review has the best bump, but it's only a 20% difference or so between a 5-star and a 1-star. (The 'worst' bump is at the 2-star level, which still provides 60% of the boost a 5-star does.)

    > What's the general end goal: having a review of your serial on the front page for publicity's sake,

    Yes. Eyes on the story increases the chances of Patreon/Paypal funding. Need to make a living!

    > an overall happy-reader-positive-light opinion,

    Always nice to have, but willing-to-review counts for more than maybe-willing-to-review-but-only-positive. (That's also why I warn people that as a reviewer, the only thing I'm promising is my time and attention, not positive ratings. My review history bears that out.)

    > a serial writing peer's advice for improvement

    Eh. Nice to have now and then, but not at all a focus for me. At times I'll ask writers about passages or pages.

    > a highlight on only the strengths, a list of both pros and cons,

    I think review swapping for only positive responses is a great way to poison the well. Don't do that. Agree to your time and attention, nothing more. Disclose your review swaps openly and up-front, and refuse to change your ratings mentally as you work through your review because of reciprocal reviewing. The work is the work, and review the work.

    > actual editing...?

    If you're relying on reviewers and readers to be your editors, oh lawdy lawdy. Don't do that. Never do that. Do your own damn editing or pay an editor. Respect the value of the time of your readers. Feeding them your first draft work is just rude.

    From Winter's Ashes: A Detective with nothing left to lose, against a Necromancer with a world to gain.
  11. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Generally, web fiction isn't really at a professional level. Not in most cases, anyway. Web fiction is a means for fledgeling authors (with little to no writing experience) to get their feet wet, and for many, feedback on their first drafts is a valuable learning experience that they wouldn't be able to make otherwise.

    I don't think we can expect web fiction to be professionally edited, and we definitely can't expect everyone to have time for extensive self editing or money for an editor. I only hired an editor after deciding that I'll be going the ebook route. Ebooks that have a price tag on Amazon ARE a professional medium. Web fiction is not.

    Which is also why 'making a living' happens to almost no web fiction author. People who read online look for free stuff. If you want to make a living, sell books.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world.
  12. Emma (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Chrysalis: And that's why I'm currently writing a novel and plan on turning the serial into a series of books, edited of course. I'm pretty much using my web serial as a way of gaining some kind of readership in the hopes that they'll eventually buy my books. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't. Just have to wait and see.

    Oh, and the serial keeps me writing, which is the most important part of this.

  13. Sten Düring (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Still, whether we're writing a a hobby, like I'm doing, or we're trying to make a (partial) living out of writing, the question of if we're happy with the review swaps remain.

    For myself I can say that I am. I feel I've been given an honest assesment of my work here, given the context of this site. I'm also perfectly aware of how my readership increased for each review.

    In turn I've tried to give an honest AND subjective review of the works I've chosen to write about.

    All in all I strongly believe honest swaps create a win-win situation for all involved -- swapping writers as well as potential readers. I also like the open atmosphere here. We talk about swaps in a transparent way, and by now reviews part of a swap are clearly visible as such.

  14. Billy Higgins Peery (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Love the stats about ratings and their relation to traffic, Patrick. Mind if I ask how you figured them out?

    As to responding to reviews: I try to keep responses short. There was that one time I challenged Psycho Gecko to a duel, but other than that, I've found brevity to be the wise course of action. The fewer words you write, the less likely you are to say something stupid. And really, other than thanking the reviewer for taking the time to read the work, there's not much else a writer can offer a reviewer in a response. Clarifications or questions about how to improve, perhaps, but even that gets into dangerous territory.

    If you want to respond to a review, just say thanks and move on. That's better for everyone's sake.

    "Any number of hitlers, are still not my problem." -Tempest
  15. Patrick Rochefort (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    @Billy: > Love the stats about ratings and their relation to traffic, Patrick. Mind if I ask how you figured them out?

    Other folks math and resources on that one, there's a few good articles out there about the value of any review vs good reviews, etc. I promise I'm not hand-waving or arse-pulling, but the last time I read up on the phenomenon was at least 2 years ago. :)

    From Winter's Ashes: A Detective with nothing left to lose, against a Necromancer with a world to gain.

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