Book Reviews: Devil or Delight?
by Sharon Hughson
As an author, I adore book reviews. Without them, Amazon won’t suggest my books to readers. But many authors hate reviews too.
Because asking someone to review our work opens the doors to *gasp* criticism.
In June, I participated in a review event and garnered ten new reviews for Reality Meets its Match, the first book in my Virtual Match sweet romance series. Out of those, only one was for five stars.
I must be a horrible writer if readers didn’t give me five stars.
Some authors think that way. Every review should be positive, or they’ll curl into the fetal position and sob for an hour.
Why does a less-than-glowing review affect them so?
Because it’s difficult to separate self from our work. And the negative review feels a little like a personal attack.
I promise you that I’ve reviewed hundreds of books on Goodreads, and very few of my reviews accompany a five-star rating. Am I a hard-to-please reader? No, I’m a hard to impress reader.
Roll your cursor over the stars on Goodreads sometime when you’re getting ready to offer a rating. This is what they mean: five stars=it was amazing; four stars=really liked it; three stars=liked it; two stars=it was okay and one star=did not like it. (On Amazon reviewers are supposed to be more generous.)
With this rating system, that means every reader liked my book, except those who gave it one star. And I’ve never gotten a one-star review…yet.
The reason I don’t give many five-star ratings? I don’t read very many amazing books. Nearly every book I read has flaws (or what I consider weaknesses). I always give reasons for my lower ratings, and if people who read the review don’t care about those issues, they will still be encouraged to read the book.
Reviews are for readers.
Yes, as an author I want you to read my book and love it, then tell all your friends how amazing it is and convince them to buy a copy.
But I’m a realist. I understand my stories aren’t for everyone. For example, one reviewer mentioned the heroine of Reality Meets its Match was almost mean, and she didn’t like her very much.
Well, Ronnie has very good reasons for holding others at arm’s length. And guess what? By the end of the series, this reader will see a new and improved, and maybe even lovable, Ronnie. Of course, she might not read the other books because of her impression of Ronnie in the first book. Or maybe, she’ll see in the reviews of Reality Bites (book two) that Ronnie’s past is revealed and she’s softening toward the idea of falling in love.
Yes, I’d love to have mostly five-star reviews, but I think readers prefer to see a spectrum of star-ratings. It’s more believable to see that not everyone loved the book, and when readers explain WHY they took away a star (or two), that helps the next reader make an informed decision before they click the BUY button.
I’m an author who only sees the delight aspect of reviews.
Usually, I don’t even pay attention to my reviews. I’m too busy writing the next story.
I read the reviews during the event in June because I’d paid to participate and wanted to know if I was getting my money’s worth. If I’d been buying five-star reviews, the answer would be NO, but since I wanted ten honest reviews, I got my money’s worth.
In fact, I agreed with the three- and four-star reviewers’ comments that the ending of Reality Meets its Match was a little abrupt. It wasn’t meant to be a stand-alone story as much as an introduction to Ronnie and Marcus and the writing style of Sharon Hughson.
Go ahead and pick up Reality Bites, I urge them. And don’t fret too much over the ending there because I’m busily writing up the happily-ever-after Ronnie and Marcus deserve.
Do you leave reviews? Do you read reviews before buying a book? Authors, do you read all the reviews of your works?
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