Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Sunday, 12 April 2015

Reviews matter – by Mary Smith

I read an excellent blog post about the importance of reviews on Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo blog. I was going to re-blog it here for Novel Points of View readers – then I discovered I can’t re-blog from WordPress to Blogger! I could do it to my own WordPress blog but that’s about my dad and dementia which wouldn’t really be the right home for it.

Sue called her post When Reviews Really Matter and started it off with a review of The Hobbit by the ten-year-old son of Stanley Unwin the founder of George Allen & Unwin publishing house. Young Rayner Unwin enjoyed The Hobbit – and we know the rest of the story.

As Sue points out in her blog post, reviews do matter to writers.

Here’s the link

What do you think? If you are an author, do you write more reviews since you were published? Do you agree with Thumper – “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all!

16 comments:

  1. Have to admit my main feeling about reviews is ... fear. But I need to get over that and seek out more.

    As to whether you should review a book if you really don't like it, on a YA review site I contribute to (https://paisleypiranha.wordpress.com/ ) we generally don't want to read and therefore review books we don't like so we're definitely tending towards the idea 'I read this because I enjoyed x and y' which of course doesn't stop us mentioning the things we didn't like. But seems fairer to me.

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    1. Sounds like the Paisley Piranhas have a good policy, Gill.
      As for the fear aspect, it wears off after a while! My first two star review left me a gibbering wreck for a few days but the many more 4 and 5 stars made me realise it wasn't the end of the world.

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  2. That's a good blog, Mary, thanks for sharing it with us. So far most of my reviews have been positive. A couple haven't liked my writing - that's OK with me. We don't all like the same things and I probably wouldn't like such reviewers' favourite authors. Poorer reviews balance out the rave ones. I console myself by looking at reviews of my own favourite authors and seeing that among the hundreds of great ones there are handfuls of negatives that are not just trolling, but considered views.

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    1. I like Sue's blog though I don't respond to all her posts as she puts things up about three times a day! I like her writing-related posts and the ones she does on family and her dog.
      You are right about the poorer reviews and rave ones balancing each other. I'm always suspicious if a book has only 5* reviews and much more likely to investigate it further if it has a mixture.
      I do get a bit tired of the assumption made by some writers that one and tw-star reviews are the work of trolls!

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  3. Thanks for the link, Mary. I really do try to leave reviews as much as possible but have to admit to owing quite a few just now! Yet, I know how wonderful it is to get them, especially from a reader we don't know (happened to me last week for The Highland Lass). I'd never leave a review if I couldn't give the book at least 4 stars. There's only ever been one book that I wish I hadn't given so high a rating, but I was being too kind and too new at reviewing!

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    1. Thanks Rosemary. I so agree it is wonderful to see reviews from total strangers. I want to find them and hug them - but content myself with a thank you comment though I doubt if they ever see it.
      I once gave a book 2 stars (I won't say which) because it so infuriated me and yet everyone was raving about it. Someone pulled me up on it because it had a spoiler and because they felt it was wrong to have my signature link to my own book. I replied at once with an apology and explained my frustration and they were so nice about it and thanked me for my generous response and apology. I am sure the author knew nothing about it but I felt bad and resolved never to put up less than a 3 star.
      I also never get dragged into the 'I'll review yours if you review mine' scenario. A friend signed up to a site which does that and was appalled at the rubbish she had to read and really struggled to find positive things to say!

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  4. Yes, I have definitely done more reviews since becoming an author myself. I know a lot of people write reviews for friends without reading a word of their books but I find that impossible to do. As for keeping quite if I don't like something, it's been said to me more than a few times, 'We all know what you think by what you don't say.' So I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't .....sigh. I feel all this review thing is another pressure and do we really need it?????

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    1. Ooh, Linda, I couldn't review a book I hadn't read either. I guess it is a bit of a pressure but maybe we shouldn't let it become so. I feel bad I have a number of books read but not yet reviewed and I will get them done - mainly because they are books I have enjoyed and want others to enjoy them, too. It's nice Amazon doesn't need as lengthy a review as before.

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing my article, Mary!

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    1. It's a pleasure, Sue, and as you can see people have enjoyed it very much - maybe you'll gather up a few new followers.

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  6. Such an interesting topic! I think I have too many principles to be a prolific reviewer. I won't swap reviews; I won't review unless I can give at least 4*; and although I want to review all my friends' books I feel that's maybe a little incestuous.
    The long and the short of it, I suppose, is that I ought to review more...

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    1. You made it this time, Jennifer! I dont swap reviews. I know what you mean about reviewing books by friends - and where does it stop? What if a friend writes a book you don't like? On the whole, though, I feel that as I so much want, need and appreciate reviews I should also review other writers' books, not necessarily friends but simply review books I have enjoyed.

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  7. It's so funny.. Some authors will insist that reviews don't matter, and others are adamant about how important a book review is. I agree, reviews matter!

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    1. Hi April, thanks for dropping in. Yes, authors tend to be divided on the subject of reviews. I know they matter. When you reviewed No More Mulberries I had a very clear spike in sales immediately afterwards, mainly in UK although you are in the US.
      I still want to interview you for this blog. Is your email the same as before? I know you've been dropping bits of your name!

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  8. I think I actually leave fewer reviews now, because as a published author I don't want to leave an honestly mixed or middling review for fear it will offend a fellow writer. Or sometimes I'll leave an honest review, but keep the stars higher than they would be if I didn't have to worry about it what it might do to somebody (the math is fairly brutal -- I understand that better now). I do feel tortured a bit by kind fellow authors who have reviewed my books who have books I really ought to read and review and yet 1) I may really have struggled to get into their books and never stopped struggling, or 2) I simply haven't gotten to them yet -- I have a huge pile of obligatory reading waiting for me. (My old eyes and my old tablet are also an increasingly uncomfortable combination for reading.)
    However, ever since my fanfic salad days, I have always left positive reviews for books I truly enjoy -- unless perhaps there are already hundreds or thousands of reviews listed for them, so they clearly didn't need me and it was unlikely anything I had to say would be useful. I have occasionally left a negative review, too, but only if think the book has been sold deceptively and people deserve the information. For example, I once reviewed an ADHD book that didn't reveal in its sales copy that it was going to be completely opposed to any and all medication. I think I got punished for it, too, since an unlikely number of the reviews I had published for other books were suddenly voted "unhelpful" by exactly one person. Which is fine. I'm not out to make a name for myself as a reviewer. I will say this -- I think that if you don't have any negative reviews, it suggests you haven't yet gotten enough readers. There's not a book in the universe that everyone likes.
    I haven't noticed a huge spike from positive reviews, but I have noticed that if the most recent reviews are middling, it can depress sales -- unless they're REALLY nasty, which might actually encourage more reviews and sales. People don't like a bully.

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    1. Hi Sandra, thanks for your thoughtful comment. As Linda Mitchelmore commented earlier this whole review business does begin to feel like another added pressure!
      I agree with what you say about not having any negative reviews means you don't yet have enough readers. While the four and five stars are lovely and a morale boost there does need to be that balance, I think Jenny Harper mentioned.
      I have a huge tbr pile, some of which are books by author friends, including some in genres I don't usually read or enjoy so they didn't never to rise to the top - and then I feel guilty. Maybe it's enough to support them by buying their books?

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