Why Reviews From Fans Are So Important

I got an email this morning, which I will answer later today, about why I’m not going to do Mitch’s Win anymore.  Now, most of you are probably aware of the short piece I had written called The Keeping of Greg Wilson that was about 14,000 words.  Mitch’s Win was supposed to be the second one in that series, so it was bound to be another short.

And the fact of the matter is, people (overall) hate my shorter works.  I know this because of the emails and reviews I get on places like Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc.  I got two 1-star reviews on The Keeping of Greg Wilson on Amazon because ‘it was too short’.  Though I priced it as low as I could at $0.99 and warned people that it was only 14,000 words (and gave the approximate page count), they still complained about the length.  It might have averaged 3-stars on B&N.  I’m not sure what it did anywhere else because I don’t make it a habit to go to every online bookstore to check it out.  Even though the book was free at B&N, I was still getting written reviews that said, ‘1-star because it’s too short.’  I also average low on the short stories ‘A Cowboy’s Wish’ and ‘A Christmas Play’ because those are ‘too short’, even though they’re free. 

Those aren’t the only books I do horribly on in reviews.  An Inconvenient Marriage, An Unlikely Place for Love, Romancing Adrienne, and The Cold Wife all average 3 stars on Amazon.  Why do you think I took those down to tweak on?  It wasn’t just the one woman’s complaint.  It was because those books have all taken a continual beating over on Amazon.  I can’t bring those books to a 4-star average as they were, so maybe I can do that by modifying them from historicals to contemporaries since the main complaints stemmed from the whole ‘too modern’ angle.  With Romancing Adrienne, I kept it a historical but had to change the name in order to take it out of the Virginia series since Trevor (Sue’s brother) didn’t exist until around 2010 when An Inconvenient Marriage is now set on the timeline. 

So yes, authors do pay attention to feedback, and we will gauge whether or not to pursue a project based on it.  Mitch’s Win will have received low ratings because it would have been a shorter piece of work.  It would have to be because it’s second in a series, and contrary to what people might think, few people will buy a compilation of shorter works.  They’d rather have something more substantial.  And doing free hasn’t made any difference.  So I’m ditching all shorter pieces.  Cherish Evermore was also on the list but it’s removed.  That was Irving Spencer’s story (Irving was from The Wrong Husband).

From now on, I’m only doing full-length novels because those are the only books I write that I have a chance at getting an overall good review on. 

There are authors who rig the system.  They get into groups where they review each other’s books under pen names and review their own books under pen names.  They give each other and themselves 5-star reviews because (guess what), reviews do impact sales.  Negative reviews don’t kill sales, but they make it so that a book doesn’t sell as well as it could be if it rated higher.  Why?  Because people see 4-star and 5-star average books and think, “Good book.”  They see a 3-star average book and think, “Eh.”  They see 1-star and 2-star average book and think, “What’s wrong with it?”

And you know what else some authors do?  Go to other authors’ books with their pen names and give those authors 1 and 2-star reviews in hopes of decreased sales on those books.  Authors can either be the most helpful friends in my life or they can be the most petty and sleazy people I’ve ever met.  You want a dead giveaway on whether an author used a pen name to review another author’s book with a 1 or 2-star review?  Look for put-downs on the ‘editing and grammar’ of a book.  That is a dead giveaway.  You see that in a review, and it’s from an aspiring writer or a published author. 

So why do authors need their fans to give them 4 and 5-star reviews so badly?  Because they are coming up against other authors who are trying to sabotage their sales. 

Look, I don’t review my own books under pen names, I don’t solicit reviews from other authors by flooding their inbox. I don’t go around in an author group to give a lot of authors 5-star reviews in order to get 5-star reviews. (These authors don’t read each other’s work.  They either get a synopsis or read a sample.  So this is a bogus review system.  Every book I review are books I’ve actually read, and my policy is to never trash another author’s work, so I won’t give anything less than 4 stars.  So if I don’t like a book, I don’t review it.)  I definitely don’t use pen names to give authors 1 and 2-star reviews on their books.

I find all of that behavior unethical.  They are misleading the reader, and they compromise an author’s integrity.  Look, I have no problem with readers giving out 1 and 2-star reviews as long as they’re legit and not the same person trashing the author over and over again, which happens a lot.  It’s happened to me on An Inconvenient Marriage and The Cold Wife on Amazon. 

Authors who have integrity take a beating from authors who don’t.  If we get a good review, it’s because they’re legit and we earned it, but we don’t get a huge amount of 5-star reviews in a very short period of time.  It takes us time to build those up, and in those, we also have the 1 and 2-star reviews coming in.  So when our fans take the time to give us a good review (4 or 5, esp. a 5 to help offset the 1-stars that accumulate pretty fast), it means a lot to us because it shows us that our fans like that type of book and want more like it (which helps us know what to write in the future) and it shows us that while some hate the book, others like it. 

So for your favorite author, whomever he/she may be, I ask you to go to Amazon (where most of our sales come from) to leave a 5-star review or two on a book that isn’t doing so well on the star rankings.  So if their book is averaging 3-stars, give them a 5 to help them out.  You already love the author and the author’s work, so you wouldn’t be lying.  And no, you don’t have to do my books.  I’m just asking that you find one of your favorite authors and help them out.  😀

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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14 Responses to Why Reviews From Fans Are So Important

  1. help them out, but don’t do alot the same day. they might think ur fake.

    • Oops. Good point. I thought maybe someone would drop one review and move on. I wasn’t thinking of them reviewing more than one book.

    • Rose Gordon says:

      Exactly. But I’ve compiled a list of all the “criteria” of a fake review that I’ve heard. And you know what? If you go through that list, you’d think every single review out there was a shill review. It’s a shame people can’t just be honest so we didn’t have this problem.

      However, I am all for helping your favorite author(s) out and leaving them a nice review.

      • I agree. Even honest reviews are being claimed to be shills. Too bad authors who don’t honestly like the book and review it are seen as suspect. I understand why, but there are authors who do read and review books, too. It won’t stop me from reading and reviewing books. I might be an author, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reading. 😀

      • I know its SAD. I have left GOOD reviews, and I WILL comment if I think it needs a comment on a bad review 😛

  2. Rose Gordon says:

    You are right on the money in so many ways.

    I will not review a book I haven’t read. Ever. Nor would I ever give less than a three no matter how much I don’t like the book. The reason? 1. Obviously the author did something right, either by writing a good description, choosing an eye-catching cover or some other marketing ploy that got me to buy the book in the first place (not based on reviews, I’m pretty decided by the time I look at those. Only if they mention rape or adultery do I let reviews impact my buying decision). Because I bought the book, it automatically gets no less than a two. Then, if I finish it, it gets a three. I’m the kind who will stop after about 40-50 pages if I’m not liking it. So if I make it through, it had to have had some redeeming quality or I wouldn’t have finished it. There you go, automatically no less than three stars because I don’t think people should be allowed to review books they don’t finish.

    But not everybody is this way. And that’s okay, that’s their choice. Not every book can be a solid 4/5 star book. But what annoys me more than a 1-star review that says: I hated this book. The characters were unlikable, the plot was dumb, the heroine was TSTL etc is reviews that read like this:

    1. “I bought this book based on all the good reviews.” (Did you read the sample?)

    2. “I couldn’t finish the book.” (Then why are you reviewing
    it?)

    3. “This was a really good book blah, blah, blah, praise, praise, praise.” But then when you check the rating it’s a three! (A three means the book was fair, not really good. I do understand some people feel a good book should get a four and only the best of the best should have a five. I get that, but to say a book is really good and give it a three? That’s like giving a book a 1 or 2, but giving off a list of things you actually liked about the book. Just saying.)

    4. “This book was overpriced–even if was only .99–or I’d only read a book by so-and-so again if I didn’t have to pay for it.” (That’s your opinion, however, that should never be in a review, and yet, I see it all the time. A review is the highs and lows of a book, NOT your assessment of its value. That is the worst thing a person could put in a review. Even on a review I found to be helpful, if I see that, I will not give it a helpful vote. That’s cruel and unnecessary.)

    5. “This was boring.” “This was dull.” “This had too much/too little dialogue.” “This was stupid.” “This was too clean.” “This was good.” “This was funny.” “Definitely a must read.” etc. One or two simple sentences that do not cite an example of what you’re talking about. All that does is act as an unhelpful review that serves as nothing but a way to give a rating for a book–either high or low depending on what kind of sentence it is.

    6. “I read the others in this series and liked them, but this one was terrible.” (Then why not go review some of the others, too? Fine, you didn’t like this one, but perhaps you should go review one or two of the ones you did like in addition to this one. Why only review the one you didn’t like, but put a sentence in the review you liked the others?)

    7. “This book was a waste of my time.” (If you think about it, aren’t all fiction books? If you weren’t reading you might be doing something more productive anyway. So what they’re saying is, this book was not a good waste of their time. Still, if you’re not enjoying the book, stop reading it.)

    8. “I kept reading this book in hopes it would get better.” (Why? To be a martyr and say you made it through the worst book ever written?)

    Truly, all these things are either just annoying or nasty. There is no reason to ever be nasty in a review. Ever. And I’m not saying that from an author’s prospective. As a reader, if your review is nasty, I discredit your immediately. If there is a problem with the book, there are nice, respectful ways to mention it without being demeaning.

    There are also other dead giveaways a review was written by another author. I won’t bother to list them since the whole topic of faux reviews gets me worked up.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: read the sample. Reviews can be great because they (can) give the reader an idea of what to expect, but a sample let you know if the writer’s style is one you will like. A sample should be long enough for you to get a feel for the characters/plot/writing enough to know if this is something you’ll enjoy. If you’re not liking the book by the time you reach the end of the sample, then stop reading and go find another book! All you’ve wasted at that point is a little of your time, which is actually a small sacrifice considering you lost no money and you didn’t suffer through a miserable book.

    (Oh dear, I’ve ranted again, sorry. Feel free NOT to post this!)

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Ditto on all Rose said. 😀

      • I agree with you Rose. I won’t review a book i hated, I wont give less than 4 stars so if people hate me for it o well. now if an author requests me to review it, I would simply email them and say if I liked it or not. I would tell them that I do not want to put the review up because it wouldn’t be a good review and ask them what they wanted me to do BUT I would NOT email what my negative review was. that is NOT good for the author

    • EXACTLY!!!

      The “I kept waiting for this to get better” one really makes me scratch my head. A movie? Sure, it last an hour and a half. But a book that in some cases might take a person days or weeks to read (depending on their speed)?

      • Yeah, those reviews make no sense to me either. Why keep reading if you don’t like the book? Do these people enjoy torturing themselves? What’s the point of even saying that or ‘I must trudge through book 2 since I already bought it’? I can’t understand how hard it is for people to walk away from a book or a series. I have no trouble at all. As soon as I read two chapters and find myself bored, I stop reading and move on. For me, it takes a long time ot read a book, depending on how busy I am, so maybe these other people have time to waste that I don’t.

  3. Yeah, I keep getting smacked for the 101 tips because it’s “not a book” – which the description says.. “101 tips for traveling with a vampire IS JUST THAT: 101 tips…” They obviously don’t even read the description!

    • Oh brother, and it’s free right now. What is up with people? I am sick of reading on the forums how some people keep belitting self-published authors as providing a ‘fast food service’ type of book which is easy to disgard once read, but then they expect a free or cheap book to be long and perfect in the writing. WTF? Did they want ‘fast food’ or a gourmet dinner because they aren’t having the mindset or willing to pay for gourmet.

  4. lol which is why I didnt get that one. I could tell write a way it wasn’t a read.

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