1. Autumn Grayson says:

    Hm…I like reading reviews, but interestingly enough I’ve been basing my buying decisions more on synopsis, the writing sample, and seeing what people say about the book during podcasts and other internet conversations. So in a way I care more about word of mouth. Though reviews do still seem to be valuable to a lot of authors and readers.

    There should be balance in reviews, though. If I don’t see any thoughtful reviews that talk about downsides of a book in addition to upsides, it makes all the glowing reviews come off as fake in some way, even if they were made by people that truly read the story. That’s actually the upside to getting some negative reviews. People will see the reviews section as more authentic and believable. That’s usually why it’s better to include both pros and cons in reviews, because every story has both upsides and downsides, and it’s better to be honest about both. Though if a review doesn’t contain any negative commentary, it can compensate by thoughtfully analyzing some things the reader liked about the book. They might have to add a spoiler warning, but st least they’re highlighting genuinely good aspects of the tale.

    There are challenges to getting reviews sometimes, though. Sites like Amazon of course want to prevent authors from buying reviews, but I’ve seen some indication lately that they’ve changed their ToS in a way that makes it harder for authors to utilize their review team. One author I know gives out eArcs in exchange for honest reviews, so he isn’t buying good reviews or anything nefarious like that. But he’s asked people to stop putting things like ‘I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review’ on Amazon because a change in the ToS gave him reason to think that Amazon will interpret that as him buying reviews.

    • I think word of mouth will almost always trump pretty much anything else for me, too, Autumn. But that last nudge is often a review. Sometimes I read a few that just make me hunger for the book. Some raise a red flag or two, which might make me curious—why the debate? Which perspective will I agree with? I’ll read a book simply because of the disagreement!

      Amazon, like so many other sites is becoming so politicized, so beholden to political-correctness. It is disappointing. But I say, keep trying. Authors are the ones who benefit from our efforts.


  2. “My web browser didn’t load all the images in this article. ONE STAR.”
    Or my personal favourite, “I loved everything about this article on reviews! So good and important! One star.”

    • Oh, my! Those are classic, R. J. I’ve seen that before—when the words simply don’t match the rating number. Or the rating and/or the review really have nothing to do with the writing and the story. They say all publicity is good publicity, or something like that. But I haven’t figured out any value from those unrelated kinds of “reviews.”

      Just curious, R. J., is this why you decided over on Goodreads not to give a rating number any more?


      • Partly, yeah. I knew what my star ratings actually meant to ME, and I tried to clarify that in my bio. But I realized that other readers were using and interpreting those ratings very differently, so I decided the stars weren’t helpful enough to keep using. I didn’t want to feel pressured to give extra stars to a book just because people might think I hadn’t liked it otherwise, or worry that an author friend would be hurt because I gave her book four “this was really good” stars instead of the coveted “all-time favorite, will re-read with pleasure for the rest of my life, bury me with this book” five-star review.

  3. If the reviews are truly there. According to Amazon, 15% of the reviews for my book The Light Arises are 3-star. Of course, I want to read those so I check it out. There are zero, 0, nada 3-star reviews. I must admit I’m miffed that they can say 0 reviews account for 15% of my rating. Strange math there … hum, must be new math. That’s just my little story. I myself do read and write reviews a lot. I do scan them, but, like was said, I take them with a grain of salt and base my final decision on the description.

    • Wow, C. S. That’s a new one to me! I’ve never heard of that. Truly disheartening, I’m sure.

      I think, when it comes to Amazon, one of the important things about reviews is that Amazon (or so I understand) base their little email suggestions about what book a customer might want to buy next, on the number of reviews in the category that match buying or searching history. At any rate, I noticed a distinct difference between my two books.

      Hopefully you’ll get enough other real reviews, to wipe out the non-existent 3-star ones.


  4. Jes Drew says:

    It’s especially difficult to get reviews with Amazon saying pretty much everything is forbidden.

    • Jes, I would recommend you keep trying. After you get a little history, I think Amazon may not be so heavy handed. I’ve never had then deny one of my reviews. I try to be diplomatic. If I’m writing a review to help the author, I’m not going to rake them over the coals. But I think honesty in reviews is essential. People can see through fluff and hyperbole too easily. If I’m going to make the effort to review a book, I want what I say to matter, to help. Just my own policy: I’d rather not review a book if all I can give them is a 1 or 2 star.


What do you think?