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

  1. #126
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    See here (in the comment thread) for someone threatening one-star revenge reviews.

  2. #127
    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    See here (in the comment thread) for someone threatening one-star revenge reviews.
    Ugh. Bless his pointy head, indeed.

    Tally up one more reason for authors to ignore their own reviews... especially since people aren't going to state "I gave this one star because I think this author is a meanie-head who crushes scammers' dreams" in their review.

    Le sigh.

  3. #128
    Quote Originally Posted by swvaughn View Post
    Oh, but people DO assume this. Many, many people. Not you, shaldna (and certainly not our Scarlet ) but some writers...and a whole lot of readers.

    This is one of the many horrors I saw on the Amazon boards, which I will never visit again. Over and over, people assert that ANY book with a bunch of five-star ratings is definitely the result of evil, attention-whore authors trolling for reviews, and stating that five-star reviews should always be ignored.
    ^This.

    Why is it so easy to believe the worst of all scenarios? The number of authors who use sock puppets or family members to beef up their ratings is relatively few, I think. But as soon as those stories crop up, that's the bandwagon that the masses jump on. "Oh, this book has too many good ratings--they must be cheating! Like Author X!"

    Not all the time, but when a reader who didn't like a popular book sees tons of glowing reviews, I think this is sometimes the thought process. Not the more logical, "Well, I guess this isn't the book for me. Moving on." Which is what most of us here tend to do, I think.

    I'm also with Libbie, in that I sometimes seek out books with lower ratings and mixed reviews. Some of my favorites are ones that literally divide audiences in half. And can be much more interesting reads that ones with unanimously favorable or unfavorable reactions.
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  4. #129
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    If I see a book with only a handful of ratings and all of them are 5 stars, yeah, I am a little suspicious, but then I read the reviews.

    It's really not that hard to spot reviews that are just fluffing the author.

  5. #130
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    It might help if authors rating their own books on Goodreads did so under a sockpuppet account, though. Makes it less easy to catch them out.

  6. #131
    writer of spec fic Saul Tanpepper's Avatar
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    Bottom line is that the review is a necessary evil in this business. It's a marketing tool for the writer (and, yes, if used properly, I believe it can also be a means for readers to provide feedback to the author, who has the option of taking it or not), as well as a means for readers to gauge the readability of a title. That being said, there's a lot of abuse and misuse, some stemming from misunderstanding the purpose of the review system, some stemming from outright malfeasance. But I think readers are, for the most part, smart enough to distinguish between a review that is well-written and one that is poorly written, regardless of the "score" given.

    As for the reviews I do solicit from my readers on occasion, it's always with the understanding that I don't respond to anything that's posted in public, whether positive or negative, no matter how glowing or how harsh. IMO, I feel like this sullies the process. Does this leave me vulnerable? Yes, but at the end of the day, I think it's more harmful to the author to engage reviewers and only helps to perpetuate a message that reflects poorly on the writer. If someone contacts me privately, that's another story, and I will try to respond.

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  7. #132
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    I've solicited one or two reviews. I get publicity, the reviewer gets a free book.

    One in particular I have a huge amount of respect for because while she loved two of my books, a third didn't impress her -- and she told me so. That made her positive reviews all the more meaningful.

    She wasn't cruel about the book she disliked, but the fact she wasn't scared to tell me "It didn't work for me," made me think yup, here's an honest reviewer.

  8. #133
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    It's time to recall the ABM (Author's Big Mistake): Responding in any way whatever to a negative review.

  9. #134
    Wonderfully Irreverent Dr.Gonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    It's time to recall the ABM (Author's Big Mistake): Responding in any way whatever to a negative review.
    The only positive thing to come out of that is an entertaining thread.
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  10. #135
    Worst song played on ugliest guitar Libbie's Avatar
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    And what a positive thing that is.

  11. #136
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    If I see a book with only a handful of ratings and all of them are 5 stars, yeah, I am a little suspicious, but then I read the reviews.

    It's really not that hard to spot reviews that are just fluffing the author.
    This is pretty much my take on five (and one) star reviews. But, again, it's those first few pages that are going to hook or lose me, not any review.
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  12. #137
    So Goth That I Was Born Black Kitty27's Avatar
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    Authors need to learn this rule when it comes to reviews:

    If they are talking about me,they are thinking about me and thus giving me more shine. Therefore,I shall shut my yap.

    Negative reviews are going to happen. An author should keep it pushing and not act like the reviewer slapped them when they were a child.
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  13. #138
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    What I don't quite understand is how anyone gets to this point without having got way beyond being devastated that not everyone thinks they poop rainbows.

    I mean, these are commercially published authors we are talking about.

    They have been to forums like this and read discussions like this.
    They've encountered concepts like "golden word syndrome."
    They've had critiques, not all of them completely positive.
    They've seen other people throw teddy out of the pram at critiques, and know how bad it looks.
    They've done some fairly serious editing, involving killing at least some of their darlings.
    They'll have had blunt rejections.
    They'll have been told by editors that things they really quite like need changing or removing altogether.
    In short, they'll have years of experience of people saying "no thanks" to their writing.

    And yet when a reader says "I hated this book", or gives it a rating other than 5 stars, it's distressing and completely unexpected?

    I understand it when it's a kid posting their pride and joy online and they've never, ever been told that they're not perfect and wonderful before. But how do you get commercially published without having long since got over this reaction? Someone please tell me, because it's the method I want to use

  14. #139
    On a wing and a prayer aruna's Avatar
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    I know of one case in which an author's AGENT went on to Amazon reviews to defend her author (R*sie Alis*n).
    And one author commented on a bad review I wrote, defending her book; I made a few short comments, and she came back again. I didn't take this further; it was just too embarassing for the author.
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  15. #140
    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aruna View Post
    I know of one case in which an author's AGENT went on to Amazon reviews to defend her author (R*sie Alis*n).
    And one author commented on a bad review I wrote, defending her book; I made a few short comments, and she came back again. I didn't take this further; it was just too embarassing for the author.
    Eww. Not classy.
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  16. #141
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swvaughn View Post
    Oh, but people DO assume this. Many, many people. Not you, shaldna (and certainly not our Scarlet ) but some writers...and a whole lot of readers.

    This is one of the many horrors I saw on the Amazon boards, which I will never visit again. Over and over, people assert that ANY book with a bunch of five-star ratings is definitely the result of evil, attention-whore authors trolling for reviews, and stating that five-star reviews should always be ignored.

    Hence the reason that the reviews voted "most helpful" on my Amazon listings tend to be three-stars, or four-stars if those people can't find a three-star review to upvote. Because no one could have possibly actually enjoyed my books enough to give them five stars, unless I begged or badgered them into it.

    Makes me want to write to all the strangers that have given me five-star reviews and ask them to please lower the star rating, or better yet, completely trash the book in the review. It really turns my stomach that perceptions have shifted like this.

    There's a lot more WTF on the Amazon boards, but I won't go into that on this thread. Suffice it to say that as an author, you just can't win.

    I'm with you, Stacia. *hugs*

    Yep. I see it on reader blogs and Goodreads quite a bit. Of course I can't respond there but when I saw it here I finally had to say something. It's bad enough when readers do it but to see writers penalizing other writers for being good at what they do is just...really depressing. Really, really depressing. Especially when series readers love fail every day because they apparently have too many good reviews for readers to give them a try.

    In my admittedly biased opinion, if anyone should be willing to have a closer look at those reviews and see for themselves that they're not all from family members, it's other writers who know how much that stuff matters. It's not a reader's job to care, but I do tend to expect writers to be more interested in supporting each other, even if only on a very superficial basis.
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  17. #142
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacia Kane View Post
    Especially when series readers love fail every day because they apparently have too many good reviews for readers to give them a try.

    Do you really think "too many good reviews" is responsible for deterring so many readers that this can be blamed for a series failing? I'm having a hard time buying that scenario.

  18. #143
    Girl Detective Stacia Kane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Do you really think "too many good reviews" is responsible for deterring so many readers that this can be blamed for a series failing? I'm having a hard time buying that scenario.

    What I really think is that I've seen hundreds of comments about how any book with too many 5-star reviews is off-limits for that particular reader, and what I really think is that I've seen more than one series which got rave reviews fail. (I won't even bother pointing out here that I'm not the only one in this thread mentioning this as an issue.)

    What I also really think is that I don't lie or engage in hyperbole just for fun, so if I didn't really think it I wouldn't have said it. But thanks for the insulting insinuation that I'm either a liar or an idiot.
    Last edited by Stacia Kane; 12-01-2011 at 11:17 PM.
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  19. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stacia Kane View Post
    What I really think is that I've seen hundreds of comments about how any book with too many 5-star reviews is off-limits for that particular reader, and what I really think is that I've seen more than one series which got rave reviews fail. (I won't even bother pointing out here that I'm not the only one in this thread mentioning this as an issue.)

    What I also really think is that I don't lie or engage in hyperbole just for fun, so if I didn't really think it I wouldn't have said it. But thanks for the insulting insinuation that I'm either a liar or an idiot.

    I insinuated no such thing. I just think it's exceedingly unlikely that large numbers of people (meaning a statistically and economically significant number) are refusing to read books because they have too many 5-star reviews on Amazon. If that were true, then books that are popular and getting overwhelmingly positive reviews would all see their sales tank.

  20. #145
    Whatever I did, I didn't do it. Phaeal's Avatar
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    Another thing about the star system. If five stars is the highest I can ever rate something (meaning in my mind that it's equivalent to "life-changing, I cried from the sheer aching beauty of the thing, I will read it at least once a year for the rest of my life"), I can't in all honesty rate many books "five star." From me, four or even three stars would be good ratings.

    Whereas others are quite happy giving five stars, and NOT JUST ASSOCIATES OF THE AUTHOR. From what I've seen on Amazon and GoodReads, some people give out five stars by the truckload (even when their text reviews sometimes note substantial problems with the books.)

    So, yes, I do see some ratings inflation on these and other sites. But I'm not calling foul or losing sleep about it. It's a caveat lector situation -- a savvy reader will know to look beyond bare stars and both read the full reviews and sample the book itself. It's more of these savvy readers we need, I think, not more readers dazzled by sparklies.

    As for publishers, I would think they'd be more interested in sales figures than in Internet ratings. But I can sympathize with the original blogger. I mean, if you're George R. R. Martin and your latest book has been on the bestseller lists for months, you'll probably find your publisher ready to overlook the fact that the Amazon five and one star reviews are running neck to neck. If your success is less predicated on expectations (that is, you don't already have a massive fan base), then it makes sense that ratings rise in value for you -- and those investing in you -- by attracting more readers.

    And, definitely, the star rating and the text review should match. I can't stand the five-stars that are as critical as admiring -- come on, if it was that flawed, why FIVE STARS? Or the one-stars that are full of compliments -- hey, if it wasn't so bad, why the cheapness?
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  21. #146
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    I'd be willing to bet that a statistical study would show little or no correlation between star ratings and sales.

    People are going to rate the way they want to. As Phael said, some people are very stingy about giving 5 stars, others never bother rating a book unless they give it 5 stars.

    Only aggregate ratings and individual reviews have any meaning at all if you are trying to guess how well a book was received by its readers.

  22. #147
    Sophipygian AW Moderator Alessandra Kelley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald View Post
    See here (in the comment thread) for someone threatening one-star revenge reviews.
    Ugh. I notice most of the comments on that blog post are brief, and the commenters have their names linked, but each and every comment protesting the post or threatening bad reviews are very long and don't have any links to their posters. Uniformly. Hmmm.

    I, y'all may be aware, am Not A Writer, but an artist/reader who hangs around here. I write reviews sometimes, and I read them too. I consider reviews a tool for readers.

    I pay less attention to the number of stars than to what the review says. If it says 5 stars it's great or 1 star it stinks, I'm less interested than if it goes into reasons why it works or doesn't for the reviewer. If it's just advertising-style copy, my eyes glaze and I move on.

    I consider 3 stars means a book is good, 4 means great, and 5 incandescent. 2 means I found it ordinary, and 1 is I did not care for it. I'm sort of going by Goodreads' scale here.

    But it's what the reviewer has to say that matters to me when I read a review, not the rating.
    Last edited by Alessandra Kelley; 12-02-2011 at 01:20 AM.

  23. #148
    Quote Originally Posted by Stacia Kane View Post
    What I really think is that I've seen hundreds of comments about how any book with too many 5-star reviews is off-limits for that particular reader, and what I really think is that I've seen more than one series which got rave reviews fail. (I won't even bother pointing out here that I'm not the only one in this thread mentioning this as an issue.)

    What I also really think is that I don't lie or engage in hyperbole just for fun, so if I didn't really think it I wouldn't have said it. But thanks for the insulting insinuation that I'm either a liar or an idiot.
    I have to agree here. It's truly astonishing how prevalent this belief is, that five-star reviews are worthless because they're obviously shills. It's like the "don't believe the hype" stuff that's always been around, only amplified to an insane bandwagon degree.

    And my series, which got great reviews, did in fact tank and was dropped by the publisher. And I do believe the reviews were a factor. I'm not going to say that was the only reason, and I definitely don't think that my books are the Greatest Thing Evar, and How Dare Everyone Not Love Them. But I think it was part of the reason. So many book sales are online these days, that it just does count.

    On the first book, I have something like 15 5-star reviews and 14 4-stars. Yes, two of those are people I know -- and no, I did not ask anyone to review the book. But I wasn't about to explain to my mother-in-law how downright mean and pedantic people get about reviews written by family.

    Of course, I'm sure that people who actually got so far as to read her review assumed that I badgered that one.

    I say people who got that far because the reviews that actually appear on the page with the book are the three-stars that got upvoted by readers who think five-stars are bogus.

    Spend a little time on the Amazon boards, and you can't miss this belief. It's extremely prevalent, and a lot of them are hostile as hell toward authors in ANY capacity, not just those who are plugging their books.

    I'm not whining about bad reviews. Far from it. I'm not whining about good reviews, either. I'm saying that READERS who aren't writers do have this view, and it isn't just a few of them.

  24. #149
    Gentleman. Scholar. Bastard. willietheshakes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul Tanpepper View Post
    Bottom line is that the review is a necessary evil in this business. It's a marketing tool for the writer (and, yes, if used properly, I believe it can also be a means for readers to provide feedback to the author, who has the option of taking it or not)
    No, it's not.

    It's just not.

    The issue, I think, is that writers have started to think this way, and act accordingly. A review is NOT a marketing tool for a writer. A review should have nothing to do with the writer.

    Reviews exist FOR the reader. Period. Writers should keep their distance.

  25. #150
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    Quote Originally Posted by swvaughn View Post
    And my series, which got great reviews, did in fact tank and was dropped by the publisher. And I do believe the reviews were a factor. I'm not going to say that was the only reason, and I definitely don't think that my books are the Greatest Thing Evar, and How Dare Everyone Not Love Them. But I think it was part of the reason. So many book sales are online these days, that it just does count.

    I'm sorry about your series being cancelled, but it was cancelled because it didn't sell, not because it got too many good reviews or too many bad reviews on Amazon. 29 reviews total? That's why. Thousands of would-have-been buyers (which is what it would take for this phenomenon to have the impact you are claiming) did not go to your book's Amazon page and decide not to buy it because they saw that your mother-in-law wrote a flattering review.

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