Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

When I was a newbie writer, I had no idea I wasn’t supposed to respond to reviews. And I did a couple of times until I was told it was a no-no. I look back at that time now, and I’m kind of embarrassed. But one of the reasons I thought it was okay is that I work in a retail/wholesale business, and we are told we ARE supposed to respond to reviews. We are supposed to try to make the customer happy in any way we can. And I’ve noticed on Amazon, for physical products, many vendors do respond to reviews.

So why aren’t authors supposed to? Honestly, I don’t have a good answer for that. I have some ideas, but I’m not sure I’m right. What I’m thinking is that books are so subjective that we can’t really respond to an unhappy reader and make things better. Either they liked it or they didn’t. But what about books that are badly edited? Should authors say anything about that or just hang their head in shame and try to fix the problem without responding? Should an author thank the reader for pointing that out and say they will do their best to correct the situation?

What even started me thinking about all this is an email I got from a company who helps businesses get reviews. It was a link to their blog post that talks about how you should never (on your own site…you can’t fix Amazon) take down negative reviews because it seems untrustworthy to do that. Which I have to agree with. They talked about how you should always respond in some way that assures the customer you’ll do everything in your power to correct the problem. So why can’t authors do that? Why are we limited when other retailers are encouraged to do it? Just something to think about.

What do y’all think?


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I try not to read reviews anymore. It doesn’t help the sanity of most authors to do that. I fully intended to work on my website during lunch, but since I had to go to my book pages on Amazon, etc. for links, I caught myself reading the reviews.

Here’s what I found. Many people don’t like my novellas. Club Blood (which is probably my least favorite anyway) has less than a 3 star average. See Me and Guardian Vampire have 3 star averages. (Guardian Vampire has 11 five star and 10 one star, and very little in between, so that must be an either love it or hate it book.) These were some of my earliest books. A Rocky Path, which was my very first novel, has a 4 star average, but there aren’t that many reviews. It’s not a good seller, and Anya and I are talking about revamping the cover. Most of my full length (although fairly short) novels have 4 star averages.

Okay, here’s the most important thing. My favorite of all my books is Haunted Lake. It’s always carried a 4 star or more average and it has quite a few reviews. Then, back in April, I got a 1 star review that said, “I only read a couple of chapters. Too much filthy talk which I do not like at all. Not recommended for my Christian readers.” Now most of you that know me, know I don’t do “filthy talk” in my personal life OR my books. There’s a little heat in some of my books, but it’s very mild (except maybe for Starfane, which has more heat). And this person only read a couple of chapters, and even if there had been “filthy talk”, it wouldn’t have happened in the first couple of chapters. A couple of people commented on the review and asked if she even reviewed the right book, because obviously either she didn’t or she was lying. This whole thing still upset me because it brought my average stars down. But…when I looked today, I noticed I had gotten 3 reviews this summer, 2 five stars and 1 four star. That made me very happy. 🙂 And it brought my average back up to a solid 4. Out of 44 reviews, I have 20 five stars and 10 four stars. So maybe reading reviews isn’t all that bad.

One thing I want to say to those of you who review. Be kind. I don’t mean you shouldn’t give low stars if that’s how you really feel. But please don’t be nasty about it. That makes the reviewer look vindictive. Be helpful. Don’t say “This book sucks!”. Say, “I really disliked this book because ____”. I had one review that said “The main character was written in third person.” What? And it was a 1 star review that brought the average down for no reason other than the reviewer was either ignorant or just mean. MOST books are written in third person. They said something about the vocabulary, too, but that didn’t make sense either. Anyway, please understand that authors have feelings and when a review is written in a sarcastic, mean, ugly way, it hurts the author and doesn’t help anyone. Please write a well thought out review that explains your feelings about the book. Most reviewers who write ugly things seem to actually enjoy it. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t even have to ask any of you to be kind. All my blog followers are great people, and I can’t imagine ANY of you writing ugly reviews.

So that’s how I feel about reviews. 🙂

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Hubby and I arrived in Helen a little before lunch time. Our motel room wouldn’t be ready for a couple of hours, so we parked and walked around a bit. We ended up at one of our favorite restaurants, Old Heidelberg. We had a huge pretzel, hubby had a couple of sausages (can’t remember which kind), and I had a Reuben sandwich with German potato salad. Now here’s the weird thing. Later on in the room, I was looking at reviews, and this restaurant had some bad ones. And this just proves how subjective reviews are. Hubby and I couldn’t finish our meals because of the amount of food. He had two HUGE sausages with two sides. But a couple of the bad reviews complained about the small portion sizes. Who ARE these people? The portions are BIG. That shows that what’s big for some people is small for others. That’s the same thing with our book reviews. Some will like our work and some won’t. Just a little food for thought…no pun intended. Okay, yeah, I really intended that pun. 🙂

Another thing that happened. When we got back to the room, there were people in the room above us who RAN for two straight hours. I thought they were going to come through our ceiling. I knew it had to be kids and couldn’t figure out why their parents let them do that. I finally went to the front desk to complain. It turns out, the people up there had three rooms and were regular guests at the motel. They were called and it turned out the kids were playing in that room by themselves without adult supervision. These were kids 6-8 years old. But, the noise stopped immediately. So yay!

I hope those of you who live in the USA are having a nice holiday. And everyone else, a nice weekend. 🙂

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I just finished a book by Douglas Preston called “Impact”. I love both Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and I especially love them when they write together. Their Agent Pendergast books are great. Another author friend, Andrew Mocete, shares my love for these authors. I thought “Impact” was an awesome book, and I especially enjoyed it as an audiobook because the reader was so awesome.

I don’t know what made me pop over to Amazon to look at the reviews. To my shock, there were more one star reviews on this book than anything else. Really? People were giving DOUGLAS PRESTON one star reviews? I think the book ended up with an average of three stars because there were almost as many five stars, and some other stars in between. My books range from an AVERAGE of 3 stars to 5 stars. As much as I feel like my writing is getting better, I am NOT as good as Douglas Preston. It’s true that he writes in a completely different genre, but still…. At this point, I think I’m just going to disregard bad reviews. I’ve been pretty good at doing that this year, anyway, but now those bad reviews seem even more ridiculous (some of them were pretty weird, LOL). Does that mean I’m going to disregard the good reviews? Absolutely not. Because if someone likes my book and goes to the trouble to write a good review, I’m going to respect them enough to appreciate that.

So what makes me absolutely love this book, full of adventure and suspense, and yet makes others dislike it so much? Who knows? Reading likes and dislikes are so subjective. So, in your journey as a writer, be prepared to get all kinds of reviews from all kinds of readers. Some will like your work; some will not. Just keep writing what you love. And for those of you who are readers…keep those good reviews coming! LOL

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I know that most of you don’t need me to tell you this. But if there are any newbies out there reading this, you may not realize the backlash that could occur from anything you say on the internet.

Back when I was ignorant of a lot of things pertaining to indie publishing (or any publishing), someone left a bad review on one of my books. This was before I acquired a thick skin about this kind of thing. Some of the things that were said were a little snarky, so it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. One of my friends jumped to my defense and replied to the review, and she said some things that I wish she hadn’t, but that started the ball rolling. Then I put in my two cents worth. I thought I was just being honest and I didn’t really realize at the time that I shouldn’t respond to bad reviews AT ALL. I thought I was pretty calm about the whole thing and the reviewer was pretty nice in her response, but it still was a bad, bad thing for me to do. Reviews are for the readers, not for authors to get defensive and respond to. Not everyone is going to like your book. Anyway, the only reason this is coming up now is because there was a response today on the comments from that review. A year later! And the person who wrote the comment felt like I was out of line, although I didn’t agree with a lot of what she said about my response. And it took all the willpower I possessed not to respond to that comment. But I took the high road and didn’t. This is just one instance of how what you say on the internet stays on the internet. I did have one review that I responded to a little more recently (although not too recently, lol) and it was because I was attacked personally. It wasn’t a true review. My author friends told me I shouldn’t even have responded to that one. I asked Amazon to take that review down and they did immediately.

So please, when you see something said about your book you don’t like, take a deep breath and forget it. I know you want to respond. It will drive you crazy not to. But don’t do it! It looks unprofessional and whiny when you respond to negative remarks. There are some reviewers who write bad reviews because they enjoy it. That’s just going to happen. And some people will simply not like your book and feel like they have to tell everyone. If you can’t handle anything negative said about your book, take Zoe Winters’ advice and don’t read your reviews. Try to stay cool and professional on the internet. Because what you say on the internet stays on the internet!

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This post may be mostly rambling about assorted things.

My inner editor finds it very hard to just write crap during NaNo. Every single chapter I write, I go back over it and check for typos, misspelled words, wrong word usage, plot contradictions, etc. I can’t help myself. I’ve always done it that way. The good thing about that is that it has to go through fewer edits afterwards.

I often wonder who’s right when people critique something I’ve written. I can remember when I wrote my first novel and was sending it out chapter by chapter to a couple of people to crit. One of them said I had too much description, the other one said I didn’t have enough description. So what do you do then? One of my biggest weaknesses is that I sometimes have too many thoughtlogues. I know you’re supposed to show instead of tell. I’m trying to get better at it. But there are just sometimes, when the MC is alone, that you can’t really show exactly what they are thinking. And I realized something yesterday. I’m reading a book by the well known author, Mary Higgins Clark. She uses more thoughtlogues than I do! So if her editors let her get by with it, why can’t I do it? LOL

I got two good ratings yesterday, one of See Me and one of Club Blood, on goodreads.com. It still amazes me how people can have such differing opinions. Good, bad, good, bad, it goes on and on. The bad ones don’t bother me like they used to. Especially when I have a 2 star review and that same reviewer gave J.R. Ward’s books a 2 star, too. Hahahahaha.

Okay, I’m done now.

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I’ve talked about reviews before, and so have a lot of other authors. Many of them, including Zoe Winters, have suggested that it might be best for our mental well being to ignore them. But I just can’t seem to do it.

So, I was looking at goodreads.com and was happy to see a couple more good ratings that had popped up on my books. But then, yesterday, I got a 2 star rating from the same person on two of my books. But instead of freaking out this time, I took a look at her other reviews. I found out that she had given 3 stars to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Mary Shelley, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, and J. R. R. Tolkien. So should I get all upset because my rating is only 1 star below the “King”? And she gave Mark Twain 2 stars. So my books are at least as good as Huckleberry Finn, right?

The conclusion is that reading really is very subjective. So the real question is…how closely do other readers pay attention to the reviews? Do they really make you lose sales? Honestly, I’ll pay more attention to the ratings of an actual physical product, especially when tangible reasons for the rating can be offered. But, as I’ve said before, I’ve actually bought books because the rating was bad…and actually enjoyed them.

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I want to throw a question out to some of you who are authors. On Zoe Winters’ blog, we were talking about reviews and how crazy and mean some readers are, etc. I was going to ask this question on her blog (since there are so many more people following it), but I didn’t want to use her blog for my own ramblings. The question is, how many of you actually respond to reviews on Amazon or other places? Does it depend on what the reviewer says or how personal they get with you? I recently responded to some negative reviews, and I got responses back from two different readers. One was kind of hateful and basically said authors shouldn’t respond to negative reviews because it was like a kid trying to get a better grade from a teacher or something like that. The other reader was very nice and explained more about why he hadn’t liked the book. My whole intent was to find out why they didn’t like it. I did probably piss off the first reader because she had said that “Blind Freddy” could have seen the twist coming. I thought that was a little too sarcastic, and said something to the effect that “Blind Freddy” must be good at that sort of thing, but none of my beta readers figured it out. I was also trying to interject some humor in my comment. Didn’t work. LOL Later I thought I probably should have let all of it go. But I’m one of those people who is laid back and easy going most of the time. So when something gets to me, it REALLY gets to me. Since things usually don’t. :0)

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5 star/1 Star

I’ve been thinking a lot about reviews lately. I’ve suddenly gotten a couple of 1 star reviews and I almost stopped writing. I wondered what the point was. But I started thinking about the 5 stars I had. Some from people I knew and some from readers I didn’t know. I began to wonder how there could be such a big difference in opinion. I started researching other people’s books. For instance, a lot of indie authors seem to really love a certain fellow indie, and her books are pretty high up in the Amazon Kindle store. She’s doing great. But I didn’t particularly like one of her books I read. I gave it 4 stars, but that was kind of generous. That doesn’t mean someone else didn’t like it. I looked at some other books that I really loved…and found some 1 star ratings on the books. I’m wondering how this could be. The last book I read was awesome in my opinion. But it got some pretty bad reviews. Luckily, it had many more good ones. Again, what a difference in opinion. How one reader can see the characters as flat and one-dimensional and another reader can see them as well developed and real is beyond me. But if we were all alike, the world would be so boring.

Having said all that, I want to say that I will not give a lower rating than 3 stars. It would have to be the worst drivel I have ever read for me to even think about doing that. I would rather not write a review at all. There’s really not much of an excuse to give bad ratings when both Amazon and Smashwords let the readers read a sample before buying. Just don’t buy the book! The biggest reason that I don’t want to give bad reviews is because I just might be wrong. It’s just an opinion. And I don’t think my opinion is supreme. The writing would have to be so obviously bad, and the errors be so prevalent, that I couldn’t stand to read it.

I want to point out that I don’t feel the same way about products. Some products are just bad and don’t work properly. So I would give a bad review in some of those cases. But when it comes to books, movies, music, etc., there is way too much opinion involved. And I’m not going to hurt an author’s rating just because I didn’t like it. Let the readers decide…again, samples. Yes, I know I’m too nice. But there it is. Some 1 star reviews I’ve read aren’t just people giving opinions…they are malicious and downright ugly. Sometimes I think people get off on doing that. I want to be able to sleep at night. That’s just me. I know a lot of people don’t agree with me, but I don’t really care. My opinion is as good as anyone else’s and vice versa.

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