The Power of a Review

review

Are you influenced by reviews?

I try not to get upset by a bad review but I had a real stinker recently and it hurt.

The book in question hasn’t had a review below four stars and most are five, but along comes a one star, which the reviewer says she gave grudgingly and her review is vile. The book clearly didn’t float her boat and looking at her other reviews I can see it wasn’t her usual genre and I wondered why she bothered to read the book at all, let alone leave such a vitriolic opinion on a very public space.

Recently I read a poor review of a book and was so incensed by the arrogant attitude of the reviewer that I immediately bought the book – a sort of two-finger cyber salute. I then went on to enjoy the book immensely. Reading matter is subjective and what suits one doesn’t always suit another.

We are influenced by reviews, whether when buying books, goods or services and have an absolute right to report on poor quality workmanship but shouldn’t reviews, be useful to other people? Positive reviews almost never get challenged but a negative review instantly draws the reader to the reviewer’s poor opinion.

Reviews are incredibly helpful, good and bad. My debut book was self-published and I made grammatical mistakes which were soon screamed out through reviews and never again did a manuscript or piece of work go online unless it was polished to perfection. Reviews stay online forever, you can’t press delete.

I love reviewers, readers and bloggers who review – what author doesn’t? These lovely people read your work and then take the time and trouble to pen their thoughts and opinions and publish online. There is nothing more heartening than being told that someone has genuinely enjoyed your work – months, maybe years of hard slog disappear in a moment of sheer joy, knowing that your story enhanced someone’s life if only for a short while.

I asked a popular reviewer for their tips on reviewing and the comment was, “Be respectful, keep it real and write your review well.”

A negative comment, taken in the right spirit can be very helpful but I do wonder what is behind the mind of a person who slates a book with pure hate.

Thoughts anyone?

C x

@carolinejames12

Caroline James on Amazon

 

12 thoughts on “The Power of a Review

  1. Reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt. Every person is a special snowflake, at least somewhat different from the other snowflakes surrounding it; as such, it stands to reason that not every snowflake is going to enjoy reading the same thing. I feel that you need to read several reviews that the person has written for books that you have already read to gauge whether or not the reviewer’s opinion is likely to correlate with your own on books you have not read – and even then, there is substantial room for differences.

    I agree, I am personally in favor of writing more well-rounded reviews, pointing out both what I like, and what I don’t like, and recognizing that there is likely a person out there for every book, and trying to note the reader stereotype who is likely to enjoy the work

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  2. Sorry. iPhone. Published my comment early. To continue…

    However, I am also willing to read some reviews that are full of spite because they are well written and/or funny.

    Even when a reviewer does not like your book, and writes an awful review, they are saying they don’t like your book, they are not commenting on you as a person. And if they are commenting on you as a person, unless they know you personally, no one is likely to take anything they say seriously.

    Good post!

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  3. Liking a book can be compared to having “Good Taste,” in clothing, music or any art form; in other words it’s totally subjective and every one is entitled to their opinion, even when we violently disagree with that opinion.

    If the author imagines how an actor feels after a fabulous opening night, where most of the reviews are great, but there’s one, just one, that is abysmal, cutting and cruel. Do they throw themselves off the nearest bridge, or do they try and ignore it? Obviously the latter. Who knows why the reviewer felt that way about something that everyone else had obviously loved…..there could be a million reasons.

    I also think that sometimes if there is just one bad review it can make for a greater interest in the book as people feel a bit challenged to judge it for themselves, and buy the book on that basis, so let’s hope that this is the case with your book Caroline!

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  4. Ironically, although I write reviews and blog about books, negative ones by others don’t influence me – I think we all have different reading tastes – unless the comments are about the grammar of the writing as you mention. I try not to read anyone else’s review until I’ve written my own so that I know it is my own genuine thought. My mantra is to be polite and respectful even when I thought a book was awful!

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  5. A poor review that is written constructively can be a helpful thing. A poor review that simply spews vitriol and gives no reason behind why the person ‘hated the book’ just shows the reviewer in a poor light, rather than the book. Most poor reviews seem to be the latter, so no harm done.
    I also think people are becoming increasingly suspicious of rave reviews, so actually a one or two-star rating can, ironically, be helpful in that it convinces prospective buyers that the reviews are ALL honest.

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  6. Reviews pretty much dictate 80% of my book buying … especially since joining Twitter & finding the wonderful book community – the other 20% is exploring more titles from authors I’ve particularly enjoyed.

    They don’t all have to be 5* reviews though … just well considered aspects highlighting why they think the way they do, constructive points made whether positive or negative… I mostly ignore vitriolic reviews – although they can ‘make’ me want to buy the book because sometimes I like what many don’t & but I always feel these ‘cheap n nasty’ inconsiderate reviews are a slight on the writer of the review far more than the author.

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  7. This was a very timely post for me so thank you for such a thoughtful and balanced approach. While bad reviews hurt, particularly when a comment doesn’t remotely chime, I reckon that it’s better to have these sprinkled in among more positive comments rather than dozens of straight five stars. When I reviewed for the now defunct Cheltenham Standard I always tried to find something I liked even in books that weren’t well written. As a writer, I try not to obsess about negative comments. Admittedly, I’m not always successful! However, with time and a new novel in progress, all reviews, good and bad, fade…

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