Reviews are important.
Amazon bases its rankings on the number of reviews a book (or item) receives, and many readers determine if they’ll purchase a book or not by the reviews. Publishers urge their writers to get reviews, and writers will ask everyone (and anyone) who purchases their books to post a review.
But what do we really want?
- I love the 5* reviews. It’s wonderful to read that someone loved the characters and/or the story.
- I wonder, when I receive a 4* review; what did I do wrong? Why didn’t that reader think the book worthy of 5*s.
- I cringe at a 3* review. I read what the reviewer says, wonder what it was about my writing or the story that didn’t click with the reader, and worry about making the same mistake in my next book.
- A real downer is a 2* review, but a 1* review is almost irrelevant (especially if other reviews have been 4* and 5*.) Irrelevant, but still thought about.
I know how I feel about reviews, so, for me, giving a review of a book is more than just assigning a ranking and saying a few words about the story. At least that’s true if the book I’m reviewing doesn’t already have hundreds or thousands of reviews posted. In those cases, if I didn’t like the book and give it a low ranking, it’s not going to have any effect on sales or the writer’s ego.
If I know the writer personally
When I’m asked by a writer I know personally to review a book and I love the story, giving a review is no problem. The problem arrives when I find I can’t give the story a rave review or even an almost rave review. How does one handle that?
I didn’t handle it very well last month. I read and reviewed a book that didn’t mesh with my reading tastes. The style was different. The second half of the book didn’t seem as well written as the first half. Some events seemed clichéd. I gave the review a 3*.
The writer wasn’t happy, and I can certainly understand her position, but I still don’t feel I can give the book a higher rating. I also don’t want to hurt her sales, so I pulled the review.
So, here I am. I know my writer friends want and need reviews, but I’m afraid to give them. Even if I/we decide that I’ll only post 5* and 4* reviews, am I going to upset that writer by not posting a review? (Basically telling her/him I didn’t feel the book rated a 4* or 5*.) And if I keep putting the writer off by saying I haven’t gotten around to reading the book, well, after a while that seems like a flimsy excuse.
It’s a dilemma.