Today’s topic is book reviews. Yes, I’ve gotten a couple of not-so-good ones. I told myself, at the very beginning, that I would read them and let them go. You know, no reaction. Yeah. Okay. I don’t listen to myself all the time, and, well….
I have no problem if someone doesn’t like my books. Okay, I do, but I also realize that not everyone is going to love them. Or like them. Or read them.
I do, however, have a BIG issue, apparently, if someone criticizes something that is just not there – like “missing words,” “bad grammar,” “needs to be edited.” The books are edited. The books are gone over, time and again, line by line. Sure, there might be mistakes – even Random Penguin, or whatever they’re calling themselves these days, produces books with errors. It’s called the human factor.
It’s hardly something on which to base an entire book review, especially when the reviewer is flat-out wrong. When said reviewer gives four or five stars to another book that, on the first page alone, uses the word, “arrant.” I can only assume the author doesn’t know the correct word, “errant,” and that the reviewer is ignorant as well.
So let’s talk about stars, that “rating tool.” On Goodreads, stars mean different things than on Amazon:
1 star = didn’t like it
2 stars = it was okay
3 stars = liked it
4 stars = really liked it
5 stars = it was amazing
1 star = I hate it
2 stars = I don’t like it
3 stars = it’s okay
4 stars = I like it
5 stars = I love it
Close, but not quite. Amazon reviewers, too, tend to write more conclusive reviews and actually talk about the book. Most of the time. On Goodreads, a lot of reviewers simply give books a star rating.
Sure, your mom is going to give you five stars no matter what; maybe other family members and friends. They might tell you what’s wrong with your book privately, but not publicly.
Now, I’m nobody; who would mess with me? No reason to, either you like my books or you don’t. But for someone to go to the trouble to create a fake review – saying similar things to the one mentioned above – is not only incorrect, and wrong, but unprofessional. And, in case she’s reading this, I know who you are, you haven’t hurt me a bit, and your review has been flagged and removed. A quite simple procedure, in case any of you should ever have this issue.
Someone asked me if there was a procedure on Amazon for this sort of thing, and I answered that I didn’t know – but there is, just click on the review and, at the bottom, there’s a “report abuse” link. Simple.
Then, of course, there are the paid reviews. Don’t do it. I mean, really? You want to pay someone to read your book? And write about it? Save your money. I went to IndieReader.com a couple of months ago and sent them an E-book to review. It’s still sitting there. I emailed today and asked how long this usually took, and the answer was that, unless the book was chosen for review or submitted to IRDA, no one would download it.
I looked at this IRDA thing; the submission form asked for payment of $150. Ah. A paid-for review. No thanks. I explained to the sender that I simply won’t pay for a review, or to enter a “contest,” and that I guessed I was out of luck with them.
She said: Guess so.
Nice. I cancelled the order.
But contests, you say? Surely that’s okay, to pay a fee? I’ll counter with “why?” Just so you can put on your website that your book “won” an award? One that probably no one who doesn’t frequent that website has even heard about? Well, sure, if you want to do it. I’m not. If the book is good enough to win an award, I shouldn’t have to pay someone to discover that. And if it’s not, it’s not!
I’m not talking about all awards, just the ones you have to buy, one way or another. By joining, entering, etc. and paying cash upfront. Kind of like those anthologies that so many “writers” are included in, if only they’ll buy a dozen copies of the book….
Guess I kind of got off the subject of book reviews. Oops.
Let’s assume that you get a bad review that isn’t inaccurate, isn’t about technicalities. I’ve gotten low-star ratings which include reviews that say things like: “started slow, picked up the pace, liked the ending,” and “really good story.” Those always make me wonder: if you liked all these things, couldn’t you at least have gone to three stars for “liked it?” Whatever.
Goodreads and Amazon both have a little button below each review that you can click if you “like” the review. If you do, click it. You might even comment something along the lines of, “Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the book!”
If you don’t like the review, don’t click the button.
And THAT is the only acceptable response to a bad review. Complain in private all you want. Be petty. Be immature. It’ll help you feel better until you forget about it and move on. For heaven’s sake, don’t name names, don’t point fingers, and DO NOT write your own fake reviews to counter the bad ones. Just don’t.
Sometimes, it’s hard to behave. 😉
Good overview of the review process. And, it’s only ONE PERSON’s opinion. There are lots of others out there!
True, but when the book is fairly new and there aren’t many reviews, even one can make a big difference.
To date I have been very fortunate in the reviews for my novel. Several have pointed out flaws in the storytelling, but I feel those criticisms are both honest and warranted.
However, I have seen others–many others–that seemed motivated by personal spite or envy. Interestingly enough, such reviews tend to contain as many errors as they claim the books have.
In those cases I think that reporting the review to the site administrators is justified. However, even so I agree that nothing is to be gained by publicly singling out a reviewer as fraudulent or spiteful.
Great post however I was wondering if you could write a litte more on
this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Kudos!
[…] on Amazon than it is on GoodReads. Author Robin Tidwell does a great job of explaining it in this blog post from earlier this month. The biggest difference between GoodReads and Amazon is that you can rate […]