Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How much do reviews matter to you?

I've often wondered how important reviews actually are. I try to look at it objectively and not just from the perspective of an author. So, I'll answer the question as honestly as I can from both perspectives.

As an author, it's wonderful to know when someone loved my book. However, it's also more likely that people who HATE it will leave a review. I'm not sure why this is true, but it seems to be. People who love the story seem more likely to send me an email. Don't get me wrong, I greatly appreciate this. Kind words do wonders for encouraging me and keeping me motivated to do what I love. I suppose the people who leave bad reviews do so because they just want to "hate and run." LOL Sending an email might actually open up *gasp* a dialogue between them and the author.

Constructive criticism is often difficult to hear, but totally understandable. Everyone sees things differently and has different opinions. However, bashing an author on a personal level is horrible and should never be considered a review. As a rule, I don't respond to reviews. I have broken that rule once when someone actually called me names. That's right, they attacked ME, not THE BOOK. Still, I was professional and to the point. And I only responded ONCE. (By the way, that review was removed by the site for violating policy. Yes, it was that bad.)

Also, it seems that many bad reviews are planted delibrately by others who seek only to make the author and their work look bad. Why anyone would put such effort into bashing someone else is beyond me, but it happens.

I've read in several blog posts and online discussions that reviewers are uncomfortable when an author responds, even if it's to say "thank you." So, unless someone draws my attention to a review they posted, I don't even do that.

I sincerely appreciate someone taking the time to read and review my work. I read a post yesterday in which the individual said they thought it was tacky for an author to post links to "great reviews." Seriously? We aren't allowed to gush when someone totally gets us and what we were trying to say?

Anyway, as an author, I think that reviews only matter to me when they are in reference to my books. (Sorry, didn't mean to go into a rant.)

As a reader, which I've been all my life, I tend to overlook reviews for the most part. Most of the time, I've already made up my mind to purchase the book based on a few factors.

1. The cover art must catch my attention. I'm sorry to say, but I really do judge books by their cover.

2. Price is the next thing I look at. I'm most likely to purchase the book if it's under $5. The cheaper it is, the more likely I am to buy it.

3. The blurb. I read the book's description. If it sounds like something I might like, the cover looks good, and the price is right, I'll buy it.

Beyond that, I might glance at the reviews, but they have only once changed my mind. That was because I saw a book had rape in it, which I have no desire to read about. (Or see in a movie for that matter.)

Even before I was published, I only glanced at reviews if I was bored or had a spare minute. And they still didn't matter to me. In particular the really bad, ranting and raving reviews (in my opinion) only made the reviewer look bad, not the author.

So, that's my 2 cents on the subject. How much do reviews matter to you?


Laurie said...

Hi Tracey, enjoyed your post and you made some astute observations.I'm not an author. I am a reader/reviewer and was recently interviewed (my first time being an interviewee LOL). Here's how I feel about reviews:
Lowdown from a Reviewer

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Thanks, Laurie:) I enjoyed reading your interview too. Thanks for posting the link!

Jenny Twist said...

Hi Tracey
I've been told that it's reviews that sell the book, so I've been going all out to get them. I DO read reviews before I choose a book, although it might not be what made me notice it in the first place. I'll be interested to read the other responses to this.
And yes, of course you must gush about a good review. Keep it up, Tracey

Helen Hollick said...

There must be something in the air - I've come across several similar blogs recently, and written one myself on Author Bashing

mine was specifically aimed at the reviews that are obviously planted to trash an author though - but a couple of the responding comments have given me food for thought, primarily: reviews are for the readers, they are not a critique for the author.

One thing: I always add a comment, say thank you etc if the review is for a blog tour - I think that is part of being courteous & a way of saying thank you to the host of the blog site.

Good article - thank you

Tracey H. Kitts said...

I agree, reviews are primarily for readers and not a critique for the author.

Still, as an author, it's hard not to take harsh comments to heart. Whether they intend it as such or not, it reads like a critique. Or in some cases an outright attack.

I only have a problem with it when it turns personal. By personal I mean calling the author names or ruining the book for others by telling the entire plot. That's just rude no matter how you look at it.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion though. I just wish more people expressed their opinions with some consideration for how bad it makes them look by being a jerk and how much their words might hurt someone else.

Joanna Mikalis said...

I try to only review books if I feel like I have something significant to share--good or bad. If others have said what I feel, I try not to repeat what they said.

B Y Rogers said...

Tracey, I seriously want bad reviews. Without them, I will never hone my skills as I should. The good ones do encouage me (as you noted), but the bad ones teach me.
I agree with what you said about covers and blurbs. I need to improve my blurbs and plan to do so over the next week. I am very pleased with my covers.

The trouble is, in my case, the 4 of the 6 reviews I have received came from bias friends, and 1 was a drive by hate review from whomever.

Tracey H. Kitts said...

Well, I seriously don't want bad reviews. LOL

To me, a bad review is hateful and rude. When I say bad, that's what I'm refering to.

A low rating with an opinion of why they rated the book that way is different. I consider that constructive feedback. There is a difference.

Hateful comments will never help anyone. At least, that's how I feel about it.

Pauline Barclay said...

I have read several posts this last week on this very subject all were interesting in their content. However, I did enjoy your artile it struck a cord as having enjoyed several very good reviews I had a bad one this week for one of my books. I have ignored it, but it hurts and I know I should not take it personally, but we do! Thanks for your lovely post.It cheered me!

Tracey H. Kitts said...

I'm always glad when I can cheer someone up, Pauline. That makes me feel better:)

I got a crappy review this week too. But, I've had worse. At least this person wasn't a jerk. They just gave their opinion. That's an improvement over the week before.