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message 1: by D. (new)

D. River | 74 comments I am an author myself, and so I have come to understand how serious a negative review is. On top of the way it sucks to see someone didn't enjoy your story, it can dissuade people from buying your book.

So my question is, would you prefer people to give your books the one or two star review they feel it deserves or would you prefer people just not write a review at all?

My policy has become to just not write a review anymore unless it's a 3 star or above book. But as Amazon keeps pestering me about reviews, I started to wonder if that was fair.


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Dunbar | 78 comments Mostly, I just wish everyone would stop referring to these user comments as "reviews." I've written hundreds of reviews for various sites and newspapers and magazines: it was a noble calling once. A discipline. Even an art form. Now...

message 3: by D. (new)

D. River | 74 comments Robert wrote: "Mostly, I just wish everyone would stop referring to these user comments as "reviews." I've written hundreds of reviews for various sites and newspapers and magazines: it was a noble calling once. ..."

Well, Robert, I have also done book reviews for a website and I do consider my comments to be reviews. I don't rehash the plot. Instead, I try to give an analysis of the good and the bad of the book.

message 4: by Robert (new)

Robert Dunbar | 78 comments Oh, I know. There are good folks out there being conscientious. But the bulk of it always reads like the kind of customer comments one used to see on the Sears site about potholders and such. I blame Amazon.

message 5: by Keira (new)

Keira Andrews (keiraandrews) | 39 comments As an author, while I certainly don't like get getting bad reviews, I feel everyone is entitled to share their opinion. We put the books out there, and it's fair game.

As a reader I always check the bad reviews to see why the person didn't like it. Sometimes the person's issue is something I wouldn't have a problem with, so I ignore it the same way I would a negative review of a hotel room because it didn't have a coffee maker. I don't drink coffee, so it's moot.

But if a bad review is because a book is riddled with grammatical mistakes and is poorly edited, or because the plot and characters are thin and unsatisfying, I want to know.

When someone leaves a bad review for asinine reasons, I think readers know to ignore it. For example, a 2-star review on Growing Up Amish reads: "I was hoping for a bigger picture of Amish life than what I got. What I got instead was the author's biased opinion and feelings about his Amish faith and community."

The book is a memoir. It says it right there on the cover. Heaven forbid the author share his opinions and feelings about his life in his own memoir! (For the record I did enjoy Wagler's book, which is exactly what it says it is: a memoir of one man's experience growing up Amish and leaving his community.)

I don't rehash the plot.

Oh my lord, that is my pet peeve with reviews these days. I've had reviews for my books that were just plot summaries with not one iota of opinion. What's the point? It's baffling!

message 6: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Bishop The only time I'd post a one or two star review is if the book was really misleading and I felt the need to warn people off. Otherwise, I let it be.
Especially since I never want any blowback (as I write too, and you never know how people will react) but also because what is the point? The point of a review is to help people make a decision to buy (or read) a book. So I only review if I feel like I can genuinely offer more information than the cover, blurb, and sample. And that is rare, for me. Probably it would have to be massively disappointing, or so unexpectedly good, that I just have to share.

message 7: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Peters (andrewjpeters) | 54 comments Setting aside my ego -- which is not an easy thing to do -- I prefer the one or two star review to nothing at all.

It hurts. It shouldn't, for the great points that Keira and Amelia made above. But as a newish author, it still feels nice to me that someone took the time to read one of my books and post their opinion about it.

Another consideration is that a mix of reviews gives more validity to the book. I actually have the opposite problem that you raise Chris regarding one of my books on Amazon. Entirely well-intentioned friends posted 5 star reviews that are quite transparently from entirely well-intentioned friends. I'd love to get some objective ratings up there from strangers even though it will pull down my star average.

You suggest another question that is interesting to me: what's good practice for reviewing books as an author? I've pulled way back from rating or reviewing anything since my books came out. I'm worried about putting my opinions out there publicly. It feels like a risk that could close doors for me, or maybe even provoke retaliation. But I do miss reviewing and getting in the conversation sometimes.

I wonder how other authors handle that issue?

message 8: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Bishop I admit I've been pretty lax in posting any reviews under my author name, and even under my real name (since several people know both.) And the ones I have posted have been mostly short and positive.

I agree with you about the low star rating being preferable sometimes. It shows authenticity. A thoughtfully written three star (not a synopsis but actual reader reaction) can sell more books than a gushing five star which tells people nothing.

message 9: by Keira (last edited May 09, 2014 01:26PM) (new)

Keira Andrews (keiraandrews) | 39 comments I don't post many reviews under my author name, and if I do, they are positive. I mostly read in the same genre in which I write (gay romance), and it feels unprofessional to leave a negative review for a peer.

Be aware that Amazon will remove any reviews written by an author for another author in their genre. Here on GR it's allowed, but as I said, with my author persona I stick to the positive.

And I agree that a range of ratings looks much more authentic and can help a book.

message 10: by D. (new)

D. River | 74 comments Great responses!

@Keira, I do the same thing with low ratings on everything. If I'm on the fence with a book, I'll look at opposing views and decide from there.

I actually had one review that was verbatim my blurb for the book. :)

@Amelia--retribution is something I worry about too. And not just from the author. Some authors have very, uh, enthusiastic fans and they will retaliate if their favorite author gets dissed.

@Andrew--I hadn't even thought about the validity consideration. And as for how we authors handle reviewing, I think this thread shows we do have concerns about it.

For me, I don't mind negative reviews as long as they are constructive. Everybody comes at a story from their own angle. An author can't control that. And trying to write a book that everyone will love is an act of madness.

This forum has been sort of my little haven for reviewing. I don't worry as much about posting negative reviews here as it is less likely that the masses will see it. But I admit I'm even hesitant to post the one star reviews here for fear of reprisal or offending people.

It's sure interesting to hear how my fellow authors feel about this though!

message 11: by Duane (new)

Duane Simolke (duanesimolke) | 6 comments I agree with most of the comments so far. Negative reviews hurt, but it's part of putting your writing out there. And writers ask for reviews. We don't ask people to cut and paste what we feel they should say.

I rarely write book reviews anymore, but I do write movie reviews. If I don't like a movie at all, I won't review it and probably won't keep watching. Why waste my time on watching or reviewing something I hate, when I can find another movie I like? In the same way, if I hate a book, I probably won't keep reading it. Some people will go ahead and finish then write the one-star review.

If the author obviously doesn't bother proofing, I certainly won't keep reading, and I understand the bad reviews of such works. However, some errors in grammar, continuity, etc. tend to sneak by, even with careful authors and editors.

In all the cases I mention above, a bad review can be a learning experience.

When people give a bad review, it means they didn't like something. Someone else might love it. It's just that one person's views.

Some people obviously write reviews of books they didn't read, though, giving a bad review because it doesn't fit their world view.

I like honest, constructive reviews that don't give too much away.

message 12: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Rand I am willing to give bad reviews, but I try to point out the good and I qualify them up the ying yang.

message 13: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Peters (andrewjpeters) | 54 comments Virginia wrote: "I am willing to give bad reviews, but I try to point out the good and I qualify them up the ying yang."

That's my approach as well when I do (rarely) post a review on my blog. That sensitive constructive criticism has become part of my make-up thanks to critique groups and working as a supervisor in my "other life."

It reminds me of the essential difference between readers and authors, and of course professional reviewers. Readers are consumers. If they like a product, they will gush about it. If they don't like it, they will pan it. Using the Sears analogy that Robert raised, I wouldn't expect someone reviewing a vacuum cleaner to be equivocal for the sake of not hurting the manufacturer or department store's feelings; or even considering that other consumers just *might* have a better experience with the product. If the person felt she/he didn't get her/his money's worth, they have a right to say it.

And like Keira said, it's pretty easy to spot reviewers who had unrealistic expectations, or that maybe make a hobby out of complaining.

A colleague brought to my attention an interesting phenomenon. I wish I could remember the article she cited. The gist was that most books on Goodreads end up averaging the same number of stars, making the overall rating pretty meaningless. That's not to dis Goodreads. Just means that readers need to look through the reviews to find the ones they connect with, and sort out the fabricated ones or the off-the-wall ones.

message 14: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Bishop I feel like on goodreads, and amazon to an extent, the stars are meaningless for me as an author. The stars are for readers. Goodreads uses the stars to populate their recommended-for-you lists. So one and two star ratings don't bother me at all: I just assume those are people who (for whatever reason) didn't enjoy my book, and don't want recommendations similar to it. Fine.
But a review is different. A review is meant to influence other readers. Now you have taken direct action to convince people to either buy or not buy my book. Hopefully, you have your reasons.
I think that is why, for professional reviewers, I expect they will write a concise, careful, clear review (positive or negative) because i think once you put words to your review, it is intended to influence readers, and it should be meaningful and thoughtfully done.
I find most reader reviews to be great examples of this. But a lot of professional reviews are just synopsis, with little feedback or explanation.
Makes me not want to submit to review sites, honestly.

message 15: by Tempestraven (new)

Tempestraven Blog | 6 comments Personally, I would like to receive 2-3 star reviews instead of no reviews at all

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