Two things happened this morning that gave me pause.
Yesterday I finished a book on my Kindle. I’m not going to mention the name of the book, but I kept thinking I should write a review on amazon. So I went to the page and saw the book already had seventy-six reviews – all of them four- and five-star. I planned to give it a three-star review but really wanted to make it a two-star. I thought the writing was immature and the plot over the top and contrived for its genre, which I suppose is “chick lit.”
I couldn’t write the review. I didn’t like it because it’s not my style or genre of choice. I liked the concept of it and loved the title and kept hoping it would redeem itself in some way by the end. But it didn’t. I left the review page without writing anything. It just didn’t seem fair to pour my opinion on another writer.
Then I went to my Goodreads page for my book Live from the Road. I’m not really sure how Goodreads works, but I’m learning. I discovered there were two reviews there. One was already posted on amazon over the weekend. It was a four-star review by someone from Texas. I liked the review because it was specific to the book, and I knew the reader “got it.” But it received a four-star for a very specific reason, too, and the reviewer specified the reason. I appreciate that. But the other review on Goodreads was a two-star review with little information on why the reader didn’t like it. Two stars hurts no matter how hard I try to blow it off. It’s the first negative thing I’ve heard about the book, and I’d really like to know more than it didn’t do anything for this reader. Is it because it’s just not her style or genre? Or is it really that bad?
I’m not whining. I just don’t know what to think. Some reviewers say they won’t post a review unless they can give it a four- or five-star recommendation. But then shouldn’t poorly written books be given honest reviews, too?
I’d like to start a discussion here about reviews and what they mean. In this world of the Internet, folks can post anonymously for a whole cornucopia of reasons. Those of us putting our work out there depend on the reviews, the “likes,” the comments for our success or failure. The public depends on the reviews to make purchasing decisions. It hurts us all if the reviews less than honest – good and bad. I ask that if anyone reviews my books that you give me an honest review with specifics whether it’s a five-star or two-star review.
What do you think? How important are the reviews to you as a writer and/or consumer?
See – I’m really not whining.
10 responses to “I’m not whining – really”
As a writer, I find reviews very important, and of course anything less than a 3 star hurts. Most important to me are the reasons why people think the book is good or not so much. My first book received two star and even one star reviews and those reviewers found the books deficient in the very things that other reviewers thought the book had, such as characters one dimensional vs characters well fleshed out. I paid to have my books edited, so I know the books are technically clean, but I was criticized on my writing. One reviewer even misquoted my book to justify why he/she didn’t like it. Ya just can’t win, I’m afraid.
Thanks, Joan. I agree with you.
Hi there. I just stumbled upon your blog. I can imagine that a 2 star review hurts. From the perspective of a consumer, I can tell you that I ignore any reviews that don’t explain why the readers gave the ratings they did. I weigh thoughtful, well argued reviews more heavily, but I take everything with a grain of salt. It’s so subjective. I’ve loved some books that were universally panned and hated others that were bestsellers.
Thanks for stopping by, and it’s good to hear that you look for the reasons why a book is given a particular review.
I’ve started to review books on my blog, but so far the books I have read for my ‘book club’ I have really enjoyed so I haven’t given anything less then four stars. Today on twitter somebody insulted my reviews and didn’t give a reason why, but somebody else wrote to me and told me they were inspiring. Really you can’t please everybody and not everybody will ‘get’ a book. However, I personally don’t think giving a two star for a book and not clarifying why you did so is fair. If somebody can’t give a reason why they only gave a book two stars well then they shouldn’t have even bothered and I would count that two stars as invalid.
Thank you! I think that’s going to be my approach. Everything is so subjective. In one of my writing workshops, I use an exercise that begins with the line, “the pizza tasted good.” I ask participants to then describe why the pizza tasted good because I can guarantee what I probably think constitutes a great pizza may have nothing to do with your “good pizza.”
Of course 4 and 5 star reviews are better than 2 and 3 star reviews, but I agree that a review is pretty worthless (good or bad) unless the reader can explain the reason for the opinion. Sometimes good reviewers read something into your work that you didn’t know was there. Sometimes bad reviewers tell you what you can do better. And sometimes bad reviewers just wanted a different book …you can’t win them all!
That’s so true, Mary. It’s best to put this in perspective. I really like my four-star review because the reviewer gave me praise for what he liked and also pointed out an area for improvement.
To join the goodreads author program, go to the bottom of this page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5989135.P_C_Zick
and click on the link “Let us know”.
Then you can add a picture and fill out your profile.
Thanks – I’ve taken care of it.