I am always thrilled when I get a good review for one of my books. It brings such a sense of pride and accomplishment when someone likes your book a lot. The snippets are great for promotion, too. I got a three-star review once and was a bit disappointed, but tried to let it roll off the best I could. Everyone has their own opinions of what they like and don't like to read. And three stars isn't an awful rating, just an average one.
The other day I read a book off of my Kindle. I'm thinking at one point it was a freebie I picked up somewhere. Or maybe I won it in a contest. I really don't remember. It wasn't by a publisher I was familiar with, so perhaps it was even a self-published one.
I'm sorry to say this book was one of the worst stories I've ever read. Luckily it was a short one as I soldiered on to the end. Don't ask me why. Morbid curiosity perhaps?
First of all there were spelling/usage/grammar errors on every page. The author switched from the POV of one character to another paragraph by paragraph and once even dipped into a third party's head. These things could have been fixed by an editor, or even a careful read-through. However, it was obvious that editing was not something this author was familiar with. Besides the horrific editing, the story itself was not good. One of the opening scenes was the 19 year old hero having sex with a prostitute while the heroine (then 14) hid under the bed. The historic details did not seem authentic. And the hero and the heroine's family come up with a devious plan to trick the heroine into returning to the hero.
When I finished I realized I'd lost about 45 minutes of my life that I'd never get back. I was a little annoyed with myself. I mean there are so many good books out there, why did I waste time with one that was really, really awful?
I decided to take a peek at the reviews for this book. I was just curious as to what others had to say about it.
Much to my shock and dismay, most of the reviews on Amazon for this book were five star ones. Most claimed the book was riveting, well-written, and a realistic love story. What? Had these people read the same book I did? Then I looked a little more closely. Several of the reviews had as many typos and spelling/grammar mistakes as the book itself. Hmn? What an interesting 'coincidence'. Someone had given it three stars as they liked the story (Really?!) but were distracted by the spelling errors. Well, at least that was something. One did make me laugh. I don't remember what rating was given (although in my opinion it wasn't low enough), but the comment said something about the reader's middle school child being able to spell better and she was dyslexic.
This makes it very clear why there is so much debate about the authenticity and validity of reader reviews on Amazon. And it made we wonder if they do indeed dilute the effectiveness (for lack of a better word) of reviews done by actual review sites. When I get a five star review I am pleased as punch. I feel pride and joy and a sense of accomplishment. When I read these five star reviews I was outraged. Now I'm no Nora Roberts, but the quality and content of my books and this story are light years apart. But anyone looking on Amazon and judging by just the reviews, would find them on equal footing. Plus, this other book had many more five star ratings than any of mine ever did.
Of course reviews are only part of what people look at when considering a book. Many other things are considered as well: cover, blurb, previous books by the author, price. Deciding what to read is a very personal decision. No two readers choose a book in exactly the same way. Which is why there is so much debate as to what is THE most important thing about a book that attracts readers.
I did think about adding a review, just to warn people. I didn't want to do it out of pettiness or meanness, but just to give my own honest opinion of the story. But since I find I don't have time to write reviews for the books I think are good, I really didn't want to waste anymore time on this story than I already had. (Then again, here I am posting about it several days later, so it's still on my mind.) I'm still shocked that there were no one or two star reviews. Perhaps others who held the same opinion as I did just didn't bother to write anything. Or maybe they were taught if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. And of course, everyone's taste is different and unique.
So, how much stock do you put into reviews? For your own books and for those you choose to read?
Until next time,