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Archive > Should authors 'unlike' unfavourable reviews?

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message 1: by Lara (new)

Lara | 19 comments As a reader turned writer I've realised the importance of honest reviews and in the last few years have made an effort to review everything I read. I often download freebies and cheap ebooks in search of a diamond in the rough. As a teacher I'm used to writing carefully phrased but honest, constructive reports - which I apply to all my reviews...even the few I've rated 1 or 2 stars.

I recently rated a poorly edited book on Amazon and soon received a 'this comment was unhelpful' vote. I then noticed that all the 4/5 star comments had received one positive vote and all of the 1/2 star comments had a negative vote.

I suspect the author (I won't name names) - do you think this is acceptable and in the right spirit of the system? In the age of blogging and reviewers I think authors need to develop a thick skin.


message 2: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Wright (everealm) | 5 comments If it was the author, I think it was poor taste on their part. No one likes to have their work critiqued in a negative way, but sometimes people have their head in the clouds and don't realize that there is always room for improvement.

I guess it could have also been a fan of the book, pumping up the good reviews and pushing the bad reviews further down. Who knows..

~J.D.W.


message 3: by Roger (new)

Roger Jackson I don't think it should be done either by the author or a zealous fan. Let the readers make their reviews and give their honest opinions. A small number of bad reviews should be expected. There will be people who read your work and just not like it. And there's nothing wrong with saying you don't like it as long as you explain why.

That kind of review doesn't bother me. Now, if every review was bad, I would be concerned. I would consider that to be my fault, and not the reader's.


message 4: by Christie (new)

Christie Maurer | 7 comments A review is the writer's expression of opinion and no matter how much it offends someone who reads it--don't mess with it! If you don't like it, write your own review with your opinion.
For an author to do that to reviews of his/her book is an absolute no-no. Don't touch the reviews!! I'm a fairly new author, and once a member of my writers' group received what I thought was a totally an unfair put-down of her new book. She was very upset, but she let it be. Sure enough, other reviewers soon pointed out where it was wrong.


message 5: by Roger (new)

Roger Jackson Christie wrote: "...Sure enough, other reviewers soon pointed out where it was wrong."

Yes, if authors respect readers by offering quality work, then readers will respect authors.


message 6: by Noorilhuda (last edited Oct 28, 2014 12:53PM) (new)

Noorilhuda | 37 comments Good topic. Why is this 'helpful' 'unhelpful' such a big deal? Does it really matter whether someone has reviewed your review (LOL!) as unhelpful?


message 7: by Lara (last edited Oct 28, 2014 02:35PM) (new)

Lara | 19 comments Noorilhuda wrote: "Good topic. Why is this 'helpful' 'unhelpful' such a big deal? Does it really matter whether someone has reviewed your review (LOL!) as unhelpful?"

Good to know I'm not the only one thinking this way.

Noorilhuda, good point and you're right - it's not really a big deal, but as I've delved into the world of reviewing I've also followed discussions about reviewer rankings...on Amazon this is a really big thing, so I started to watch my ranking go up and down (for fun really - I'm not taking it seriously like the top reviewers do). A 'helpful' vote can really push you up the rankings (there are even badges available and special ranking titles - hurrah!) and an 'unhelpful' vote can push you down.

If I've written a really rubbish review then I deserve for that to show up on my profile, but I'm noticing increasingly more cases where people can't seem to handle negative reviews and those reviewers get slated by the authors or supporters of the author.

On another note, it's taught me that when I'm looking for new books to read the most honest reviews tend to be those rated 2, 3 or 4 (just my theory - but that cuts out the trolls who give 1's and the friends who give 5's, LOL!)


message 8: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Varna | 9 comments Please bear in mind that it isn't necessarily authors voting helpful/unhelpful on reviews. I've heard (from other authors and book bloggers) that fans can get rabid over their favorite authors, and I think the opposite is true as well, that non-fans can get rabid, too. Not to mention that many authors I know refuse to actually read reviews for their books, so don't rush to judge here. It might not be the author voting on something at all, regardless of the number of helpful or unhelpful votes.


message 9: by Sara (new)

Sara Bain (sarabain) | 4 comments Everyone's entitled to an opinion and reviews are solely based on what the reader personally gets out of the book. I recently wrote a piece about reviews on Linda Fausnet's blog: http://wannabepride.com/blog/?p=3319 Found some fascinating one star reviews on Amazon, including one star for Herman Melville's almighty Moby Dick because the reviewer thought it was "too nautical"!


message 10: by Lara (new)

Lara | 19 comments Sara wrote: "Everyone's entitled to an opinion and reviews are solely based on what the reader personally gets out of the book. I recently wrote a piece about reviews on Linda Fausnet's blog: http://wannabeprid..."

I'm still laughing out loud at the Moby Dick story...classic!

Yes, if one thing the reviewing revolution has demonstrated it's differences of opinion. I'm a huge Twihard, along with tens of thousands of others, but there are still thousands who have written negative reviews about the series. Let's hope Stephanie or any of her overly zealous fans don't whizz through them hitting the 'unhelpful' button!


message 11: by Sara (new)

Sara Bain (sarabain) | 4 comments Saying that, I've seen reviewers give an author one star because the book didn't arrive within the time stipulated or the cover was damaged. That's not really fair on the person who wrote it. For obvious reasons, I personally wouldn't mark the review unhelpful but can understand why a furious author might wish to.


message 12: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 34 comments In regard to recommending the book, or not, surely such a review is unhelpful. A low rated review that states clearly why the book was not enjoyed however, would be helpful. Likewise, a 5* review that says something along the lines of "fantastic read", and nothing more is surely also unhelpful.

No matter the rating, a helpful review is one that helps a prospective customer come to a decision.


message 13: by Raventidebooks (new)

Raventidebooks | 3 comments I really don't think authors need to worry about their reviews on that level. It's really just flipping the bird, in its way, since it doesn't make the review disappear or anything that might seem useful.


message 14: by David (new)

David Brian (davidbrian) | 44 comments If you are going to write a book, then it is a fact of life that not everyone is going to enjoy your work.

Obviously, if a majority of readers find your writing unsatisfactory then there is a problem (or problems), and you'd do well to look for consistent gripes contained within those reviews.

However, when all is said and done, a review is only someone else's opinion. If you are prepared to put your work into the public domain, then you have to be prepared for readers to comment.

I know of authors who have put books up for review, and then requested that any ratings of three stars or less aren't posted.
This is just plain wrong!


message 15: by Lara (new)

Lara | 19 comments Sara wrote: "Saying that, I've seen reviewers give an author one star because the book didn't arrive within the time stipulated or the cover was damaged. That's not really fair on the person who wrote it. For o..."

Sara, I've also seen reviews like this...makes me so cross. People don't realise that the only person they're hurting is the author, not the seller or the distributor. I've even seen 3 star ratings and a comment along the lines of 'I've just received this and can't wait to read it' !? Um....


message 16: by Lara (new)

Lara | 19 comments David wrote: "If you are going to write a book, then it is a fact of life that not everyone is going to enjoy your work.

Obviously, if a majority of readers find your writing unsatisfactory then there is a pro..."


Good point about the 'consistent gripes' David...the first time I spotted this trend was when I gave a 2* and an honest but constructive review (I found some good points to mention!) of a very poorly edited book. There were many similar reviews to mine...I can only hope that it was an over zealous fan who unliked us all and the author sat up and took notice, because there was a lot of potential there.


message 17: by Sheldon (new)

Sheldon Lefkowitz David wrote: "If you are going to write a book, then it is a fact of life that not everyone is going to enjoy your work.

Obviously, if a majority of readers find your writing unsatisfactory then there is a pro..."


I agree with you, David. I've got two novels out there. Clearly, not everyone will like my style or care for the story. That is true with all creative items. However, I just tell myself exactly what you stated: Be prepared and open for what comes through the door.

As it happens, our daughter is a theater arts major and has done quite a few shows. I tell her the same thing; do your best and remember that not all audiences will love you....but some will!


message 18: by Glenn (new)

Glenn Conley (gecizzle) | 5 comments When will authors realise that there's no such thing as a bad review. Hell, often times bad reviews get more pageviews, therefore creating even more buzz for the book.


message 19: by Audiothing (new)

Audiothing Natasha wrote: "Hmmm. If readers are going to knock points off for a poorly edited book, or one that hasn't been properly proofed, it follows that they should also award points when spelling and grammar are perfec..."

I have to disagree with you, as a consumer who pays good, hard earned money for books or audiobooks, I expect it to be perfectly edited. I would never award extra points, stars or praise on a work merely because of excellent spelling and grammar, that is the bar. Anything less deserves criticism.
Good editing however, does not ensure quality of writing, I certainly agree with you there, it ought to be acknowledged.


message 20: by Steve (new)

Steve (stevewhite71) A review by nature must be biased. It is, after all, our opinion of the book. How could I write a favorable review of I wasn't able to connect with the characters or the plot was lackluster or full of inconsistencies? We all look for different things in books. I'm not sure how you could criticize spelling and punctuation but not character depth and still call it great writing. How about a translation? Should it be criticized of the translator didn't do justice to the original work? You would have to read the native language version to be fair. I think I am justified calling a book bad if I didn't like it, no matter what reviewers believe.


message 21: by Steve (new)

Steve (stevewhite71) I guess that it where I am confused. If I don't like a book, how could I still classify it as good? As a reviewer, I owe the people who follow my reviews my honest opinion. For instance, I found Donna Tartt's Goldfinch unreadable. Even though it has won awards and others find it favorable, I can't do anything other than give it one star. I hated that book and could in no way justify giving it a better review.


message 22: by Steve (new)

Steve (stevewhite71) Again, your thought process doesn't make sense to me. How can I choose more carefully if I pick an acclaimed book only to find I didn't like anything about it. I'm glad we have agreed to disagree as I feel this discussion with you is a lost cause as well.


message 23: by G.G. (last edited Nov 24, 2014 03:20PM) (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 23 comments Natasha wrote: "Really? REALLY????

You couldn't see anything to commend it? Not the beauty of the words, the music in the story, the extraordinarily evocative descriptions, the humour, the tragedy, the beautiful..."


Sorry but I am with Steve on this. I owe it to people with my taste to be honest. Giving a four or five star review to a book I couldn't stand isn't being honest.
I gave a one star to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and felt no remorse for doing so. I couldn't finish it. I didn't like it. I'm sure not going to give it a good rating. What would my reviews be worth if I didn't take in consideration if I actually like a book or not? But that's also why I am careful in my choice of read. I don't like giving bad reviews so of course I stay away from any books I'm not sure about.


message 24: by Lucy (new)

Lucy Varna | 9 comments As an author, I would far rather a reader be honest in a review than give a high rating simply because other readers did so. Then again, I'm not one to follow the crowd, ever. Time's Arrow by Martin Amis? I thought it was utter tripe, and though I love, love, love Anne Rice (her work heavily influenced my own), I gave a recently-read book of hers a three-star rating. The story simply didn't work for me. (I agonized over it, believe me, but in the end, I went with honesty, though I was KIND about it.)

Be honest. Please. Whether you liked a book or not (and why) is incredibly valuable in helping other readers decide if they want to take a chance on a book, but they absolutely will feel cheated if you simply rate based on what everyone else likes.


message 25: by Audiothing (last edited Nov 24, 2014 07:54PM) (new)

Audiothing I think there is some truth in everyone's point of view.
In return for a free audiobook I wrote a review for " Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead"
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Everything indicated it would be a nice light hearted and funny book, but I really wasn't keen as it contained explicit sex and very dark, evil scenes. However, I just loved the narrator, Marie Rose, a 5 star narrator in my opinion, but the book? Just two. I eventually awarded 3 stars and tried to explain, quite thoroughly, what I disliked and why.
For my trouble, some fans PM' d me demanding to know why I hadn't awarded 5stars! The gifter, I might add, was very gracious.
Two points here:
1. Reviews are reviewed too - and often unkindly, whether they be good or bad
2. I don't believe having a review marked as "unhelpful" matters much, people will still read it, if only to find out why it has been deemed unhelpful


message 26: by Steve (new)

Steve (stevewhite71) Natasha,
You suggested not being honest when you stated reviewers should strive to be unbiased and sympathetic to the author's objectives. That is, to use your example, like rating a cheap hotel 5 stars because the intention of the owner is to fix it up.
Also, I see you stated that giving The Goldfinch 5 stars is preposterous. Wasn't that what you have that book? Or did you mean to say that my giving it 1 star is preposterous because you just don't agree with it?
I continue to find fault with your logic. If I am missing something that will help me understand your point, please let me know.


message 27: by Steve (new)

Steve (stevewhite71) No, it further drives our ideas of an honest review apart. I'm bowing out of this discussion.


message 28: by Robert (new)

Robert Brown | 6 comments Natasha wrote: "I take it you don't play the piano either then..."

Good try Natasha. I agree with your points and the resultant discussion seemed to support them.


message 29: by Sara (new)

Sara Bain (sarabain) | 4 comments On a lighthearted note, here's my top 30 of unfavourable one-star reviews dealt out to some of the world's best authors: http://sarapbain.wordpress.com/2014/1...
Just goes to show that opinion is priceless.


message 30: by S. (new)

S. Aksah | 17 comments I used to "like" the reviews but not anymore. Best not to be excited by the reviews..Lol..


message 31: by Audiothing (new)

Audiothing Natasha wrote: "I take it you don't play the piano either then..."

Oh nice one!


message 32: by Audiothing (new)

Audiothing Sara wrote: "On a lighthearted note, here's my top 30 of unfavourable one-star reviews dealt out to some of the world's best authors: http://sarapbain.wordpress.com/2014/1...
Just goes to show tha..."


At least most of them were courteous enough to say why they only awarded one star!
I loved the Paradise Lost reviewers' comment:
"It was so far beyond me that I seriously embarrassed myself"
Wonderful stuff


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