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Bad reviews are good for authors!


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Initial post: Feb 13, 2012 12:10:47 PM PST
LH Thomson says:
We all need a little more humility -- lord knows I do, anyway -- and if you read popular eBook authors right now like Joe Konrath and John Locke, one thing they all seem to agree is that bad reviews tell them more than mediocre ones.

If someone doesn't like something, it gets them a chance to actually interact with their readers and find out why.

It might be groundless, or just a matter of taste, but it could also be something that improves the next book, like pointing out odd turn-of-phrase or plot holes.

So do you skip the bad reviews and only leave good ones, thinking that's what authors would like to see?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:26:29 PM PST
L.H. I don't write many reviews because I am not very good at it. But I think the most important thing is to write honest reviews.

I really think the reviews should be for other readers anyway. I would feel a bit er.. funny... thinking I was writing a review for the author. But if the author gets something helpful out of it, all the better.

Posted on Feb 13, 2012 12:29:36 PM PST
Iola says:
No - I review based on how I found the book, what I liked and disliked, and what I know other people (readers) might like or dislike about the book. I (now) give very few 5-stars, a lot of 4-stars, some 3-stars, 2-stars to those books I finished but didn't like, and 1-star to the DNFs.

Some authors react badly the 2-stars, and get their sock puppets out to post 5-star reviews and downvote the 2-star (see the comments on my 2-star review for Unto These Hills). Other authors are much more professional, and recognise that a review is simply a matter of opinion based on the reading habits and tastes of the reviewer, and not a personal slur against the author (see the complete lack of resoponse to my 2-star review for Honor Redeemed: First Responders Book #2, and guess which of these two authors I will be prepared to read and recommend in the future).

Sometimes I comment on typos or plot problems, but that doesn't always 'improve the next book'. I read one Regency Romance where the author got all the basic facts about the Regency wrong. When I had a look at the reviews for her previous books, I found they were evenly distributed between 5-star 'this is the best book e-vah!' and 1/2-star 'this author doesn't know the first thing about the Regency period'. Obviously she either doesn't read reviews, or doesn't care.

If I'm looking for a book myself, I will generally read the critical (1/2/3 star) reviews first - after all, the 4/5 star reviews are pretty predictable. They liked it, and while I'm interested to know why they liked it, if I'm buying, I actually want to know what I might not like.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:40:43 PM PST
Zen Druid says:
>Some authors react badly the 2-stars, and get their sock puppets out to post 5-star reviews and downvote the 2-star (see the comments on my 2-star review for Unto These Hills).

How do you actually know this is what happened? You really just think that for a book that has mostly 5 star ratings that the author has to generate fake reviews to counteract your single poor review?? What I saw were 2 or more of your buddies from these fora rush in to support you even though they appear not to have read the book at all. What the heck do you call that?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:45:49 PM PST
I don't have the time right now to check this out, but if that is what happened Zen, I agree it is bad form.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:47:59 PM PST
LH Thomson says:
No doubt! I suppose the question with neg. reviews is whether the person's invective goes overboard. People can be pretty mean

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:49:59 PM PST
LH Thomson says:
You read the critics first? Could be tough on the old ego!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:50:42 PM PST
Yeah, I don't see the point in invective in a review. Are you just trying to impress the other readers with your wit? or trying to help them decide if the book is for them?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:51:21 PM PST
Iola says:
What would you call it if a book had no reviews, you posted a review, and within hours there was a flood of five-star reviews? Coincidence? Note that as this was an ARC, so the publisher had a copy of my review in advance, and knew what date I was going to post it on Amazon.

If you don't believe that authors fake five star reviews, you need to visit ffiver.com (five five-star reviews for five dollars) and the Hacker Hunter forum here on Amazon, where the author manufactured over 350 five-star reviews. It happens. Frankly, I am now suspicious of any book that has 4-6 five-star reviews and nothing else.

And yes, some of my Amazon friends did comment on the review. They know how I think and they trust my opinion. Several of them are also expert fake-review spotters, and they agreed that many of the five-star reviews showed all the signs of being fake. Incidentally, they may well have read the book - it was offered free on Kindle for about a week, which is one reason the review attracted so much attention.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:54:07 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 13, 2012 1:02:58 PM PST
Iola says:
Trying to help them decide if the book is for them. Some of my Amazon friends (one in particular) really dislikes any 'edgy' content in Christian fiction - this book had it in spades. I can't put in a review "my friend Jane will hate this book", so I describe what Jane would have hated.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:55:07 PM PST
LH Thomson says:
I mentioned this on another thread, but it's almost like some key belief of theirs about what fiction should be has been mortally offended.

There are some really good-but-biting reviewers out there though. Jason pettus on goodreads, out of chicago, puts real understanding of form and content into his reviews.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:56:54 PM PST
Oh, I wasn't talking about your review in particular Iola... And yes, if my Momma got a Christian book with "edgy" content in it, we would be picking the pieces of her Kindle out of the wall.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:56:59 PM PST
LH Thomson says:
That's also a good tip for the rest of us: looking at it pragmatically by considering the targeted audience.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:57:27 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 13, 2012 12:57:55 PM PST
A bad review because they hate the book ... no issue... heck I want you to get your money back. A bad review because you're a vindictive person who doesn't know how to promote your own work... I think you should be forced to walk over hot coals. I've seen more of that lately than I care to think about. It physically makes me sick to see authors trying to demean another author's work because they don't like the rankings. All I can say is Karma stinks.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:57:41 PM PST
Iola says:
I'm also assuming that by "bad reviews" you mean 1/2/3 star reviews, not reviews that don't tell you anything about the book and only just manage to make the Amazon minimum word count (e.g. This is the best book I ever read! You have to read it!! It should be a movie!!! I see Brad Pitt as the star!!!!)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:59:15 PM PST
I see those kinds of reviews as almost a genre unto themselves. They really aren't written to help readers so much as they are to entertain. I consider them satire and as a writer I think it would be compliment to be considered worthy of satirizing.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 12:59:18 PM PST
Iola I think some of those reviews are the best the reviewer could write. I don't expect people that read my book to be writer's, most of the time I hope their not.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 1:00:02 PM PST
LH Thomson says:
I have a corny line about smashing a storage device in the sci-Gi noir I'm working on:"that, kid? That's the stuff that dreams were saved on"

Queue groans ( or get the Maltese falcon if this is too obscure).

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 1:00:43 PM PST
Iola says:
The fact I was reading on a Kindle is the only reason the book didn't hit the wall. My Kindle is too valuable for that kind of behaviour. And yeah, your Momma should avoid that one. I'm still having trouble working out how one reviewer could call it 'uplifting' when it featured a two-page rape scene, several other sexual abuse incidents, and the poor heroine was tricked into marrying her rapist by her best friend (who was herself a victim of incest at the hands of the rapist). But all that is a spoiler, so I felt I couldn't put it in the review.

Posted on Feb 13, 2012 1:01:40 PM PST
L.H...
you know everyone THINKS that they are a comedian... :)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 1:01:51 PM PST
Bmat says:
When I review I do it for the reader, so I am honest on whether I liked the book or not and why.

Posted on Feb 13, 2012 1:03:40 PM PST
John Borg says:
I tend to read the bad reviews only (the 5 star ones are all the same) it let you know the weakness of a book, and if it tells me the gramma is bad, its probaly a book for me, I love a good story, if the gramma is the only flaw in the book, the story must be good?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 1:03:46 PM PST
And while I can imagine folks who would disagree with your perspective (NOT my Momma), you surely have the right to express it in a review. Not only does your opinion count - but you are far from the only one who would hold it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 1:24:05 PM PST
LH Thomson says:
Hey! That was the funniest thing I came up with yesterday!

(Wait a minute....scratches head)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2012 1:25:41 PM PST
LH Thomson says:
Eek. Who wants to read something like that? I mean, to each their own. But yikes....
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Discussion in:  Kindle Book forum
Participants:  25
Total posts:  82
Initial post:  Feb 13, 2012
Latest post:  Feb 23, 2012

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