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Thread: Authors should really stop telling readers how to give reviews

  1. #1
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    Authors should really stop telling readers how to give reviews

    Amazon Reader Reviews: 12 Things Everybody and His Grandmother Needs to Know

    Jim Hines does a pretty good dissection of this post here.


    So, I get what Anne Allen was trying to say and I don't think she was trying to pander, browbeat, or insult anyone, but it still comes off as very "Won't you readers please think of the poor authors while you are reviewing?"


    I find particularly interesting the claim that anything less than a 4-star review constitutes a "negative" review.


    For me, 3 stars is "Meh, it was okay." Which means someone else might like it more, and I might give the author another shot with a different book, but I thought it was not bad, just not really impressive or memorable.


    4 stars means I liked it and will remember the author, and 5 stars means I really liked it and will go looking for more books by that author.


    The point here is not to discuss my personal reviewing scale, but I am wondering how many authors feel that a 3 star review is a "bad" review? I'm sure 3 stars doesn't exactly give you warm fuzzies, but Allen comes pretty close to saying that mediocre or bad reviews are taking money out of an author's pocket... oh wait, she does say that:


    Giving 1 or 2 stars to a book that doesnít have many reviews is taking money out of the authorís pocket, so donít do it unless you really think the author should take up a new line of work.

    Yeah, well, I'm sorry but if I think a book was poor (2 stars) or dreadful (1 star), I will say so. It does not mean I hate the author (well, some 1 star books have made me hate the author) or that I want the author to take up a new line of work or starve (well, some 1 star books...) but I definitely do not feel obliged to consider the economic impact my review might have on an author (never mind that I think Allen is way overstating how much influence one Amazon review has), and I think it's inappropriate for an author to suggest that.


    Paraphrasing Jim Hines: Don't be this person.

  2. #2
    Mostly purring. Mostly. CheshireCat's Avatar
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    Cool

    I think if you waste time worrying about reader opinions -- especially in this age of Amazon where anybody can say pretty much anything they like in a public forum, even if they have an agenda -- then you're asking for trouble.

    You will get email from readers moved to tell you what they thought of your work, and that's enough to deal with. A note, like a review, is one person's opinion; everybody has one.

    Reviews do not, in any larger sense, determine or even influence sales. Some of the best-reviewed, even beloved, books I've ever written had mediocre sales, while those I knew had problems outsold the others.

    I have no idea why, and I don't waste time thinking about it. I'm too busy thinking about the book I'm writing now.

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  3. #3
    delicate #!&@*#! flower Perks's Avatar
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    I wonder does she believe that authors who publish poorly received books should get paid just as much as authors who publish books that many, many people enjoy?

    That's commie pinko chatter, right there.

  4. #4
    Mostly purring. Mostly. CheshireCat's Avatar
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    Cool

    Oh -- and to respond to the OP's statement, authors also have opinions, so if some of them choose (foolishly, IMO) to try to shape whatever their idea of "fair reviews" is, then that's their opinion.

    Readers will review the way they want to, and I doubt many, if any, will be influenced by an author's wishes or opinions. Except that handful who will be pissed and will deliberately and with glee give the next book they don't like an even worse review.


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  5. #5
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    3 out of 5 means the reader found the book average at best. That is not to say it sucked.

    When we think about it, lots of mid-list authors are average. Nothing wrong in average, IMHO.

    Hell, I have given well known published authors an average rating because that is how I felt about a particular book. I am sure they did not lose any sleep on my average rating.

    Read some James Patterson books and see if I am not right...
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    Why is a raven like a writing desk? The Lonely One's Avatar
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    It's a good thing I don't read book reviews or articles about book reviews to make decisions about what books to read.

    *shrugs.
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  7. #7
    I was rather amused by the introduction, as someone who has grown up in the Internet Age. I can't imagine asking the bookstore clerk for recommendations on books (even back when there were bookstores in this area...). That's what book bloggers are for!

    To answer the OP, I think the article was operating under the assumption that we are all like the friends in the introduction- people who know the authors and who are giving them reviews to make them happy.

    Unfortunately, that doesn't work with me. Even if I knew the author, I give the review I thought the book deserved.

  8. #8
    Writer Beware's Faithful Igor Richard White's Avatar
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    Reviews are for the readers, not for the writers.

    If you need your book reviewed as an author, then get a beta to go over it before it goes to press.

    </curmudgeon>

  9. #9
    is watching you via her avatar jjdebenedictis's Avatar
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    Every time I take "money out of the author’s pocket" by giving their book an accurate review, I am keeping it in the pocket of a reader who might have been duped into buying a book that is not (in my opinion) worth its price.

    There is no victim in that equation.
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  10. #10
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    And, as far as I can tell, it's not all as merrily simple as 'write nice reviews for your favourite authors'. She's taking about turning this into a new job for the readers. Wondering about a reviewer's standards for books? "You can check their tastes and ratings": now we're supposed to review the reviewers? And even I know that if there's only 5 star reviews for a book, it's probably part of the 'friends and family plan' that she's so fond of. Especially if it's the only book these people have reviewed. So, to make my review mean something, I should go and review a few other books, to give my review a credible provenance. So how much time is a reader supposed to waste being someone else's marketing department?
    It's not like I use the reviews for anything except casual yuks. Why would I care about the opinions of a bunch of strangers? Or spend my time chasing up bloggers? Most of which are like people with phones in public places: overfond of their own voices.
    And don't get me started on Amazon's 'People who liked what you looked at bought this' feature. They don't know why I looked at it.
    There's a couple of actual real people who's opinion I trust (even in a negative way: if they liked it, I won't), other than than, I read a couple of pages and the blurb, and work from there. And if that means I miss out on some wonderful book from a small publisher, or a self-publisher, tough. There are more books out there than I can possibly read, or afford, as it is.

  11. #11
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    What I have found is that reviews are often more harsh, or glowing, when they are detached from the writer. Reviewers, especially on places like Amazon, don't see the writer as a person and will think nothing of writing a scathing 1 star review for a book that, if they took a second to think about it, wasn't as bad as they thought. But the sense of being detached from the writer, not seeing the writer as a person, and not seeing the work that has gone into that piece, they will say things that they wouldn't say to a persons face.

    That's not to say that their review is not valid, but it is perhaps harsher than they think it is.

    I think more reviewers should stop and think before they write, and realise that their comments can have an effect on others, good and bad.
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  12. #12
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    Reviewers should also stop telling authors how to write books.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaldna View Post
    What I have found is that reviews are often more harsh, or glowing, when they are detached from the writer. Reviewers, especially on places like Amazon, don't see the writer as a person and will think nothing of writing a scathing 1 star review for a book that, if they took a second to think about it, wasn't as bad as they thought. But the sense of being detached from the writer, not seeing the writer as a person, and not seeing the work that has gone into that piece, they will say things that they wouldn't say to a persons face.

    That's not to say that their review is not valid, but it is perhaps harsher than they think it is.

    I think more reviewers should stop and think before they write, and realise that their comments can have an effect on others, good and bad.
    I disagree. I do quite a few reviews on Amazon, and when doing so, I am reviewing I am reviewing the book not the author. Yes, a lot of work goes into every book, but that is not what I'm reviewing.

    I think if authors are taking readers reviews personally, then maybe publishing isn't the industry for them.
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    It's also the case that people tend to go easier on authors they know.

    I've read five-star reviews for some books that are utter shite, and I wonder what the hell the reviewer was smoking...then I find out they're at the same publisher as the author, or even friends in real life, co-authors at a group blog, or just downright scared of rocking the boat.

    In some cases it's "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine." They swap 5-star reviews like trading cards.

  15. #15
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gothicangel View Post
    I disagree. I do quite a few reviews on Amazon, and when doing so, I am reviewing I am reviewing the book not the author. Yes, a lot of work goes into every book, but that is not what I'm reviewing.
    I agree. I think the review should be about the book, completely.

    But the reviews that I was talking about are the ones that make sweeping statements, inaccuracies, and are generally the sort of 'this is the worst/bestest book eva!' sort of reviews. The ones that are heaped with false praise or are just spite and vitriol.

    I like good reviews that are clearly well thought out by someone who took the time to consider the book and put effort into the review. Those are the most useful reviews to me as a reader.


    I think if authors are taking readers reviews personally, then maybe publishing isn't the industry for them.
    True.

    Quote Originally Posted by scarletpeaches View Post
    It's also the case that people tend to go easier on authors they know.
    Agreed, hence you tend to get a lot of 5 star reviews for books that probably shouldn't have them.
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    I read a less-than-stellar, but fair, review on Amazon UK and the author's friends and family got snotty with the reviewer, suggesting they hadn't read the book properly and "Well everyone else likes it!"

    It was pretty damn obvious when one commenter signed off with the same surname as the author and not-very-much-research at all revealed him to be her dad.

    Classy. Real classy.

  17. #17
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    I hate that sort of thing.

    Especially when family and friends retaliate on behalf of an author, that doesn't help and reflects badly on all involved.

    The same thing also when friends and family give glowing 5 star reviews.

    What really gets to me though are enemies who use reviews as a way to personally attack someone. I had one of those recently and it upset me because someone was using the review as a way to publically try and humiliate me rather than because they had issue with the book.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaldna View Post
    What really gets to me though are enemies who use reviews as a way to personally attack someone. I had one of those recently and it upset me because someone was using the review as a way to publically try and humiliate me rather than because they had issue with the book.
    There was another AWer who marked a couple of my books on Goodreads with four stars. Great, I thought. Always nice to have someone pay you such a compliment.

    Trouble is, I then fell out with someone who took this other AWer under her wing despite having nothing but bad things to say about her behind her back, and at her bidding, my former 'fan' went on Goodreads and marked my books down to two stars.

    She wasn't even smart enough to do it under a false name. Course, she got wind that I knew what she was up to and mysteriously, her altered-and-downgraded reviews subsequently disappeared.

  19. #19
    Wonderfully Irreverent Dr.Gonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarletpeaches View Post
    There was another AWer who marked a couple of my books on Goodreads with four stars. Great, I thought. Always nice to have someone pay you such a compliment.

    Trouble is, I then fell out with someone who took this other AWer under her wing despite having nothing but bad things to say about her behind her back, and at her bidding, my former 'fan' went on Goodreads and marked my books down to two stars.

    She wasn't even smart enough to do it under a false name. Course, she got wind that I knew what she was up to and mysteriously, her altered-and-downgraded reviews subsequently disappeared.
    That's disgusting. Very low.
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  20. #20
    Horror Man seun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarletpeaches View Post
    It was pretty damn obvious when one commenter signed off with the same surname as the author and not-very-much-research at all revealed him to be her dad.

    Classy. Real classy.
    Quote Originally Posted by shaldna View Post
    I hate that sort of thing.

    Especially when family and friends retaliate on behalf of an author, that doesn't help and reflects badly on all involved.
    Exactly. It makes the author look unprofessional and runs the risk of putting potential readers off.

    As for the 3 star review angle, I'll have no problem with getting any when my book is released. Hell, as long as the reviewer makes some intelligent points instead of dis buk sux lol, I'll take a 1 star review. Obviously I'd prefer postive reviews but if a reader spends their cash on my book, then they're entitled to air their opinion on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Gonzo View Post
    That's disgusting. Very low.
    She knows who she is. Her name's mud in the industry anyway because of such, and other, behaviours.

    Anyway, I don't want to turn this into another "Scarlett whinges" thread, so I'll just say it says more about her than it does about the quality of my books, and leave it there.

  22. #22
    Stand in the Place Where You Live KTC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarletpeaches View Post
    Reviewers should also stop telling authors how to write books.
    Word

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by KTC View Post
    Word

    #silkwoodshower
    I've read reviews along the lines of "I wish the author had done this," or "If it were up to me, I'd..."

    Well it's not up to you. If it were, your name would be on the cover instead of the author's.

    Review the damn book which exists, not the one in your head you wish you were capable of writing.

    /rant off

  24. #24
    Wonderfully Irreverent Dr.Gonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scarletpeaches View Post
    She knows who she is. Her name's mud in the industry anyway because of such, and other, behaviours.

    Anyway, I don't want to turn this into another "Scarlett whinges" thread, so I'll just say it says more about her than it does about the quality of my books, and leave it there.
    I was going to say exactly that but a bacon butty arrived and cut my post short.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Gonzo View Post
    I was going to say exactly that but a bacon butty arrived and cut my post short.
    Bacon butties take priority. I understand.

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