How often do you review newer authors or previously unpublished ones? Has this number changed since you joined?
I think I'm probably much less likely these days to review a newer author than I used to be. That's not so much a reflection of a deliberate change in my reviewing habits though as an inevitable consequence of being around longer and getting to know people. I'm much less likely these days to pick a random story to read. I tend to mostly read stories by authors I know or stories that someone has recommended to me, and so I don't tend to read many first stories.
Also, although this is a bit of a generalisation, the sorts of pairings and stories I prefer to read aren't the sorts of stories that people tend to start out writing. I think in general, most authors start out writing quite close to canon (unless of course they go the self-insert OC route) and write about the major characters and canon pairings, and those aren't the sort of subjects that usually grab my attention.*
Will you review a newer author even if you have mostly negative critique? Do you see it as for their own benefit?
I won't review anyone, new or experienced, if what I had to say would be mostly negative. Partly, that's altruistic, because, particularly with a newer author, I don't want them to be disheartened. It's also partly more self-interested too though, because I wouldn't enjoy writing a very negative review. For me to want to spend the time and effort reviewing, I need to be enthusiastic about a story, which I'm not going to be if I've primarily got negative things to say.
New TQ: Do you find it easier or more difficult to review newer authors than more experienced ones?
To answer my own question, I find it harder to review newer authors. With more experienced authors, I have more of a clue whether they will appreciate the review, and especially any crit, than with newer authors.
More significantly than that though, I generally find it harder to get sufficient depth to the review. Again, this is a generalisation, and not true of all new authors by any means, but authors who are just starting out do tend to write simpler stories, I find, and I like to really get under the skin of a story I'm reviewing and analyse the underlying concepts and themes and pick apart the characterisation and symbolism. There's usually less for me to work with on that front in a standard Ron/Hermione proposal-type first story.
I reviewed Alex's Memoirs of a Death Eater's Daughter. It had two chapters, two reviews. And was brilliant. So go and read it.
What is your first reaction upon encountering a story with very few reviews?
If it's by an author I know/like, I'm usually annoyed, especially if the story turns out to be good. Of course, there are various reasons for having less reviews: entirely OCs stories generally don't have that many reviews, and neither do less-popular cats like Poetry or Historical. Most fanfic readers (including myself when I was a newbie) tend to go for more "mainstream" fanfiction in terms of pairings or genre: Marauder Era and Next Gen always prove very popular, as do Harry/Ginny, Romione, Scorose and Scalbus. Others... well, let's face it, most readers aren't as interested in. Plus, rating often plays a part, too. On MNFF, for example, a Professors-rated fic may not be read by as many people but might be reviewed more, because you have to have an account to read a Professors story, whereas any rating 6th-7th years or below can be read by anyone, account or no account.
This is a very late TQ, but I have my reasons.
Does reviewing stories with less reviews necessarily mean that those authors deserve a SPEW review?
A lot of stories might have a lot of reviews that don't have much substance. Is it necessarily fair to say that only lesser-reviewed stories should be sought out?