A Review of Review Swaps(after 30 swaps here is what I've learned)

#1

    Bottom line up front: It's probably going to help you be a better writer and people want to do it .  As social proof either read my novels, or know that both are in the top 3k.

    Categories- here are the trends of what I see writers doing. I'm not too picky and I'll read most fics but....

    Grammar. To my own surprise, very few fictions had grammar issues and those were easy fixes. Please enable the feature that lets readers suggest improvements, as when it is glaring it is red hot. Nuff said. 

    Style. If you go through my reviews you will see me critique the block of texts that so many authors write in apparently. Just make your reading easy to read with enough page breaks... Space it out like this. And then wham hit them in the isekai gland! Pow. Paragraphs don't have to be long, and even I do this- use dialog tags. One of the best podcasts ever - Dungeons and Daddies - is very clear in who is talking to whom to the point that Freddie Wong who is a player and the editor makes them re-record lines that are unclear. It’s better than the adventure zone for a reason. Obvious plug for show don't tell but that is covered extensively elsewhere. 

    Character. Your character can be far from relatable but you need to show the character in how they speak, what the description is and in how a scene feels when one is present or not. Make it clear. I tried helping a writer with her character and it was like "don't describe roxy as the brunette, call her roxy" type feedback. Make it clear. Unless you are writing with an unreliable narrator, then keep the prose clean and descriptive. Make it clearer what is going on, but make the reader guess as to what the character is feeling at least a bit. I do this a lot in Red Mist where everything has whiskers so I describe the motion of the whiskers to give the characters internal state(also tails). If you want to see what that looks like, read either of my stories. Make it crystal clear.

    Story. Some of the most entertaining stories are about characters going through a change and all that entails. If your main character doesn’t go through something by the end of your fiction you know... you might be writing a mary sue or a james bond procedural character. That is fine, but then make the side characters have arcs instead. -------

     -----------------------Action item:

    What you can do.

    develop Soft skills. Okay so in order to do a review swap you can make a thread here or just PM people. I find that talking to people, selling myself it just gets easier if you just consistently do it. I don't understand.. well I do. If you are not comfortable putting yourself out there then well this might be difficult for you. Grin and bear it. Like actually do it. You want to be a better writer, then you need feedback. Plus it gets you into doing more feedback stuff. Now I know what you're thinking. What if I agree to review something and its crap? Well then message the author and explain their deficiencies. Seriously. I would prefer that as an author rather than a one-star review tell me how to improve. Still reading? Message someone for a swap. Here's what I would change. I keep asking people for swaps about one a day but what I should be doing is making a spreadsheet and just going down the list. And also not taking on new swaps until mine are done. 

    I owe a few swaps and I have to sort out who... but they are coming. But I can set up some swaps in advance!

Re: A Review of Review Swaps(after 30 swaps here is what I've learned)

#3

doravg Wrote: Review swaps are fake. Hear me out:
You read a story and the other author reads yours.
You both give reviews in the best-case scenario. I have been stood up by authors when it was their turn to review.
Then you both keep doing your projects and, in the best-case scenario, you sometimes check on the story you have reviewed. But how often does that happen?
And review swaps are such a pain in general. Doing free reviews is much more rewarding. I got better books offered to me for the free review thread I have than the review swaps I have done. 
Don't review swap. Wait for honest, truly honest, reviews to come your story's way. You will cherish them more.
Are you saying that review swaps can't be honest or helpful? I don't see that logic. I will cherish any feedback, and I got a very good review from a swap, that actually pointed me in the right direction to improve.

But I do agree that doing a review for someone simply because you wanted to is rewarding.

Besides, sometimes, without swap, you could be waiting for a very, very long time before someone will come around and will be generous enough to write a review for you out of their own good will. That doesn't happen that often, and new writers could use that feedback yesterday.

Re: A Review of Review Swaps(after 30 swaps here is what I've learned)

#4

doravg Wrote: Don't review swap. Wait for honest, truly honest, reviews to come your story's way. You will cherish them more.
For a vast majority of writers here in RR, this will probably not come. 
Smeowglivion Wrote: Besides, sometimes, without a swap, you could be waiting for a very, very long time before someone will come around and will be generous enough to write a review for you out of their own good will. That doesn't happen that often, and new writers could use that feedback yesterday.

Not just sometimes, I'd say oftentimes. 

I do understand that review swaps mean that there could be a tendency for people to skew their opinion of the work, but that might be the only feedback a writer might get early on, even if it is extremely sugar-coated. I haven't done review swaps, but I have given free reviews, like twenty of them in the past.  I stopped because while I did give high stars (I just ranged 4-5 stars), I included plenty of truthful feedback in my reviews, and some people didn't take kindly to it. A majority still did appreciate the honest feedback by the way. I'm sure there is more pressure to give a "good" review in a review swap if I already encountered some problems giving out free ones. But then again, there is that indicator of review swaps that readers can see. 

Review swaps are good interaction amongst writers, especially if it'll take some time to gather a sufficient amount of audience that some of them will give reviews, and can even help gain said audience. A lot of people don't even want to try a story without a review. 

Re: A Review of Review Swaps(after 30 swaps here is what I've learned)

#6

Turtles Wrote: I would say it's the other way around, people tend to be more open for harsher feedback if they requested the review.


Oh, you misunderstood me. I was saying that some people still reacted negatively even when they were the ones asking for the free review from me. And negatively as in (besides arguing with me) rating my story down, downvoting the good reviews I have etc., although I can't really prove that). Kind of understandable, because the story is a person's hard work, and people don't actually realize they'll get hurt with honest feedback before they receive it. So if I experienced (alleged) retaliation by giving honest feedback in a free review, I'd assume someone in a review swap wouldn't dare try to say anything remotely bad in legitimate fear of actual retaliatory review. Which then leads to sugar coating. 

Re: A Review of Review Swaps(after 30 swaps here is what I've learned)

#8

doravg Wrote: Review swaps are fake. Hear me out:
You read a story and the other author reads yours.
You both give reviews in the best-case scenario. I have been stood up by authors when it was their turn to review.
Then you both keep doing your projects and, in the best-case scenario, you sometimes check on the story you have reviewed. But how often does that happen?
And review swaps are such a pain in general. Doing free reviews is much more rewarding. I got better books offered to me for the free review thread I have than the review swaps I have done. 
Don't review swap. Wait for honest, truly honest, reviews to come your story's way. You will cherish them more.
Yep, major reason I don’t do swaps anymore. 9/10 once authors get what they want (myself included unfortunately) they basically forget they read your book. Swaps basically are rate manipulation by bending corners.


I won’t complain about other people doing them though. I’ve just grown out of it for the most part. If I DO ask for one nowadays, it’s likely going to be for a story I’ll genuinely keep reading.

Re: A Review of Review Swaps(after 30 swaps here is what I've learned)

#9

Apocryphal Wrote:
doravg Wrote: Review swaps are fake. Hear me out:
You read a story and the other author reads yours.
You both give reviews in the best-case scenario. I have been stood up by authors when it was their turn to review.
Then you both keep doing your projects and, in the best-case scenario, you sometimes check on the story you have reviewed. But how often does that happen?
And review swaps are such a pain in general. Doing free reviews is much more rewarding. I got better books offered to me for the free review thread I have than the review swaps I have done. 
Don't review swap. Wait for honest, truly honest, reviews to come your story's way. You will cherish them more.
Yep, major reason I don’t do swaps anymore. 9/10 once authors get what they want (myself included unfortunately) they basically forget they read your book. Swaps basically are rate manipulation by bending corners.


I won’t complain about other people doing them though. I’ve just grown out of it for the most part. If I DO ask for one nowadays, it’s likely going to be for a story I’ll genuinely keep reading.
Thay are great troll prevention and bandaging on the rating. They are also not always good.