A Look Back at Reviews – To read them or not read them? That is the question.

I was debating about what to post this April 10, 2023, and decided to look through prior posts for an idea and ran across the one concerning reviews.

REVIEWS: Sometimes they make us want to rejoice and other times to curse. Why? Well, let’s take another look at this topic, and I will be adding to it by asking my readers “Do you review the books you read or not? If you do either, WHY? I am curious because I’ve seen reviews that range from ‘eh’ to ‘all but crying with joy.’ And I’ve also wondered if the sales are good, earning a #Best Seller Flag for a particular category, why is there only a small number of reviews compared to many other books in that same genre?

I know that from time to time we’ve touched on this topic with differing thoughts. Personally, I do read reviews, and I write reviews as well. Yes, some are wonderful and some almost make one want to stop writing altogether.

What are the pluses of reading your reviews?

1. If they are positive and someone likes or even loves your book, it lets you know that you are doing something right.

2. When the reader likes your book, it can put you on top of the world.

3. If most are positive, they let you know that you have an audience out there.

4.They just make you feel good.

5. And if you’re having a bad day, a good review can brighten your day.

What are the minuses?

1. A bad review makes us feel bad.

2. It can make us feel like a failure.

3. And if we caught a troll, we can feel like we would like to pound them…a little. 🙂

4. If the review is really scathing, it can really upset us…if we let it.

As a reader, what are the pluses for you if you are willing to do a review?

1. If you are considering doing a review when you finish a book, you will pay more attention to the plot, the execution of it, and whether or not it is well written.

2. If you are paying more attention to what you are actually reading rather than skimming through the book, you should get more pleasure in reading it, you could also grow in appreciation for the author’s skill (or not), and you can determine yea or nay for reading/purchasing a particular author’s works in the future.

3. If you give an author a great review, you will also have the satisfaction of knowing you made that person’s day with that good review.

I’ll admit that sometimes I wish I didn’t feel I have to read reviews. But I do, and part of the reason is that I learn something. There have been times that a reviewer brought out an area that I needed to improve. I was new to fiction writing after writing non-fiction for 45 years. Fiction was a whole new ballgame. And an author can’t learn all of it at once. So, I listen and try to learn.

Reviewers catch my weaknesses in my writing. Some just mention them; others do more than just mention the flaw. Either way, I can learn something.

My writing’s not perfect nor is it enjoyed by every reader. And that’s okay. And I’m tough enough that even though I’m bumped and bruised, I’m not broken. I’m still here and working harder at learning to be a good writer of fiction.

But, I’ll admit, it has been a tough road to hoe. My first published novella was the prequel ‘Attending a Ball.’ Boy, have I taken the flack on that one. I’ve gotten good reviews on that particular writing, and I’ve gotten more ‘eh!’ reviews and some really not so nice reviews. Hey, I’m not ashamed of it. I did something most people will never do. I wrote something, had it published, AND it sold. Was it a Pulitzer Prize Winning story? Absolutely not! But I’m proud of it anyway.

And if you are new at writing fiction, be proud of the fact that you’ve done something most people will never do. WRITE! And if your book has sold, Congratulations! Keep writing and keep improving your writing.

Now, back again to reviews. If you are a rather tough cookie and want to read your reviews, read them. Just know, that if you get a bad one or a REALLY bad one, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t let it stop you writing. You can never please them all no matter how well you write. Find out what the majority of your audience likes and stick with it.

But…if you are a nervous Nelly or your heart is so soft that any criticisms pierce your soul, you might think of refraining from perusing the reviews of your book(s). What readers think is important but only in regard to improving your writing, plots, character development, etc. If you feel better not knowing what they think, that’s okay. Just remember, you are still obligated to work on improving your writing skills anyway. That doesn’t go away.

REMEMBER: the biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. And that applies to all of us.

Now, if you are a brave reader, please comment below and let me know if you do reviews and why you are willing to write them or if you do not do reviews, why you refrain. I promise no rocks will be thrown. I’m just curious because personally I would like more reviews of my books and wonder how I can improve in that area.

BTW If you haven’t read Alice McVeigh’s post of April 5, 2023, in regards to a reviewer of her book and how Alice handled that, be sure to read it. That reviewer apparently had an agenda that is more than a little suspect, and we do run into those nasty people occasionally. Alice’s post is illuminating and a bit humorous as to what she thought and her reaction to the review. ENJOY!

23 responses to “A Look Back at Reviews – To read them or not read them? That is the question.”

  1. Glynis Avatar

    When I first started reading JAFF I never thought of writing a review! In fact I was so in love with Imperative by Linda Wells that I reread it while waiting for her other books to arrive and I emailed her to tell her! It was a couple of years later that I thought to write a review. I’m not very good at writing reviews without spoilers so I usually tend to just say how much I enjoyed it, if I don’t actually enjoy a book I would rather just not write one, tastes are so different and others might love it, I certainly couldn’t write a book and only have admiration for those who do. I do occasionally forget to write a review even for a book I enjoyed (especially if I finish it in the middle of the night!)

    1. Gianna Thomas Avatar
      Gianna Thomas

      I’m with you, Glynis. I don’t do spoilers and usually stick to my enjoyment: book was well written, etc. BUT would you believe in giving an honest opinion of liking a book, I’ve actually had Amazon refuse it because I didn’t review it the way they wanted it reviewed…like a product, not a book. One refused review I resent without change, and it was accepted without a quibble. Go figure.

  2. Regina Jeffers Avatar

    I do not generally read reviews, for I cannot tolerate someone not loving my “book baby.” We “book parents” can be quite temperamental in those matters. There is nothing to be said for a “helicopter book parent,” now is there? LOL!

    1. Gianna Thomas Avatar
      Gianna Thomas

      Regina, I will say you flummoxed me for a moment. I had to look up the definition of ‘helicopter book parent.’ I do agree about being temperamental about my book babies as well.

      When Amazon allowed an author to rebuttal, I replied to a reader who said she was irritated because I used a couple of phrases more than once in ‘Elizabeth’s Choice’. That irritated me because I had not used them but two or three times out of 49,000 words. (These were words of endearment between Darcy and Elizabeth.) So…I did a percentage on each of the phrases and included the miniscule results in my answer to the reviewer. I don’t know if any of the readers bothered reading her review or my comments, and I eventually just deleted my comments. Today I would not respond even if Amazon still allowed it, but trite reviews do still irritate me. 🙂

  3. Alice McVeigh Avatar

    Thanks for your kind words about my post five days ago!!

    Apparently only one or two readers out of every 100 review a book. If more people bothered, the trolls would be swamped by real reviews by genuine readers, though, of course Amazon would still highlight the “Splats” as “top negative review”. (There’s always something!!)

    1. Gianna Thomas Avatar
      Gianna Thomas

      You’re welcome, Alice.

      One or two readers out of 100 reviewing is way too few. Unfortunately, the trolls would rule if that’s the case. Hopefully, most won’t take advantage of that.

      And what about Amazon highlighting the splats? It would be nice if they would only recognize the ‘top positive reviews.’ That should increase sales and put more money in the author’s as well as Amazon’s pockets. Betcha they didn’t think about that. 🙂

  4. Melanie Höhnke Avatar
    Melanie Höhnke

    When I started reading JAFF last year I didn’t write reviews. I had fears that I would not be able to to this because I’m no native speaker. But I read more books. And one day one of my favorite authors was looking for advance readers for her new book. First I didn’t dare to take part. But the next day there were still books available to review and so I decided to be brave and take part and write a review. And I was fun for me. I read more thoroughly and writing the review was at first a little bit difficult but than I loved it. And did another review for the same other (she published a second edition for one of her books the same time). After four or five reviews I decided to take part when authors a searching for readers who write reviews and do reviews for the books I have recently read.
    I do it because it is fun for me, I ‘m reading more thoroughly and I want to say to the author that I love the book he/she has written, because most of the time the books are really, really good =)

  5. Gianna Thomas Avatar
    Gianna Thomas

    How sweet, Melanie! I love that you review because it is fun for you. And as an author, I can appreciate a sincere review even if my book is not the reader’s favorite.

    Keep up the good reviews, Melanie.

  6. Riana Everly Avatar

    For the most part, I don’t review books in the genres I write. It’s not that I don’t want to, or that I feel I can’t be unbiased, but that I know the retailers generally frown on that. Once in a while, if something really amazes (or horrifies) me, I will do one.
    And, in general, if I can’t say something nice I won’t say anything. I know this results in a skewed rating for readers, but unless a book is absolutely dreadful, it might just be a matter of taste, and I won’t punish an author for writing something aimed at a different audience.
    Only rarely (like, maybe three times ever) I’d found a book so absolutely dreadful that I’ve felt people need to be warned away! LOL

    1. Gianna Thomas Avatar
      Gianna Thomas

      I agree almost 100% with you Riana. I just finished a series that really was a great one as far as unique P&P plots involving all the Bennet girls. The events and how each story interconnected with the others was very well done. However, the errors in spelling, incorrect homonyms, missing words, etc. made the editor in me cringe. They also made me feel bad because the stories were so good, and the bad editing tore part of that down making the books seem less. Reviews did address editing errors, but I’ve read other P&P’s where authors were informed about bad editing, but I have seen no revised versions published even though adequate time has passed for those to be accomplished.

      I do hate that Amazon has adopted the Goodreads ‘rating with no review’ policy. If there is a poor rating, 3 stars or less, I personally feel that a review should be required. The authors need to know why their books got a bad rating. Was it too expensive, was it poorly edited, or does the reader not like the author and will always give a poor rating no matter what?

      Will I do a review if I really liked a book? Yes, I usually will. If the book is rather bad, will I? Possibly. I do try to take into consideration: is the author new, has the author written other books, have other reviewers already mentioned something that my review would only be a repeat of, and can I do a review that can actually be of benefit to the author?

      Books that I’ve read that I would have liked to rip the author a good one in a review are the romance novels that give the appearance of being clean all the way through but turn into porn the last few pages. Whether a reader likes steamy or not is up to the individual. Personally, I hate nasty surprises like that and have basically quit buying Regency romances unless they are touted as clean, sweet, Christian, etc.

      Bottom line: Will I do reviews? Yes…under certain circumstances that involve the following: will they help the author in some way and will my comments help readers also.

      1. Riana Everly Avatar

        Sadly, there seems to be an expectation for some explicit material in any romance that it’s specifically labelled “Sweet” or some equivalent. I know some excellent authors who are pressured to add some spicy bits by their publishers.
        I don’t mind a bit of steam if it serves the story, but I really think there should be a standard for steaminess (one to five hot chilis?) so people know what they’re getting.

    2. Gianna Thomas Avatar
      Gianna Thomas

      I love it, Riana. You had me rolling in the floor laughing with one to five hot chilis. And, yes, I agree. A buyer ought to know what they are getting. I appreciate the authors that alert me ahead of time so I can decide on buying their book or not. Saves me returning it and getting my money back (within 7 days of purchase).

  7. cindie snyder Avatar
    cindie snyder

    I have never done a review but I have not met many books I don’t like!lol I think some people just need to calm down and not take things so seriously especially at someone else’s expense.

    1. Regina Jeffers Avatar

      It would help the authors you do like, Cindie, to have a positive review to counter any bad ones. The reviews are averaged, just like sports averages for losses and wins.

  8. Gianna Thomas Avatar
    Gianna Thomas

    How neat, Cindie. I am a prolific reader and have been all my life. Like you I have enjoyed most of the books I’ve read. But I am also very picky about what I read and try to be careful in my choices so that disappointment is kept to a minimum. Doesn’t work all the time but does most of the time. This is probably the reason why I’m careful about writing or not writing reviews also as I am considering what will be the results.

    Bottom line: We need to choose what is most important to us and act accordingly as to reviewing or not reviewing.

  9. KimberlyW Avatar

    As your daughter, I love it when you get good reviews and get I get cranky with the trolls and the useless bad ones. I agree that, if you are going to write a bad review of a product, no matter what it may be, spell out the reasons WHY you are giving it a bad review. I also tend to read through the other reviews first before I write one, just to make sure I’m just not having a bad day before I write that scathing review. The internet has given a platform to bullies though, who love to hide behind anonymity or fake personas so they can be rude and get away with it. They don’t see the aftermath, angst, irritation, and trauma it might cause the writer or product designer.

    1. Gianna Thomas Avatar
      Gianna Thomas

      Thank you, my dear. I appreciate your comments. And I laughed about making sure you weren’t having a bad day before writing a review. I also try to check for what mood I’m in as well because that affects how I word something, especially a review. Even if I didn’t like a book or certain aspects of it, I try to be polite. I don’t want to phrase a review in such a way that an author would quit writing.

  10. Kirstin Odegaard Avatar

    I really enjoyed your encouraging words about believing in yourself and moving forward–thanks for that.
    I love these ideas about a required written review for one or two stars. And the chili peppers!
    I was also interested in your comment that Amazon rejected your review because it didn’t meet their parameters? How do the awful reviews make it through and your thoughtful one is challenged?

    1. Gianna Thomas Avatar
      Gianna Thomas

      You’re welcome, Kirstin. I will present the required review idea to Amazon and, hopefully, they will see the wisdom of it. Just have to wait and see. And I have no idea how awful revues are accepted and pleasing, honest reviews are not. Makes me wonder if there are people who are in charge of saying yea or nay who just completely miss the point.

  11. Lois Avatar

    I don’t review often, but when I do it’s generally because I think a book is particularly good – and everyone should rush to read it – OR particularly bad – and everyone should run fast in the opposite direction. Sometimes, I might write a review if a book is mostly very good but has one significant problem I want to mention – or mostly bad but has one significant positive aspect. In either case I give specifics that support my view. For example, poor grammar, spelling, wrong word-choice, and general incoherence definitely earn a spot on my “particularly bad” list. Strong plots, pacing, characterization, and writing style help get things on my”particularly good” list.

    Things that fall between these, I don’t usually review.


    I feel that the role of a reviewer is to provide comments that may help another potential reader decide whether or not to read something, not to give feedback to the writer. Reviews are public, and writer feedback is arguably more private, and done by friends, editors, beta-readers, and crit-group members.

    Anything that’s neither phenomenally good or egregiously bad is likely to be the sort of work that some will like and others will not. As a fairly casual reader (not a writer at all), I don’t have the energy to craft a nuanced review that is likely to be helpful for readers making decisions about books in the middle.

  12. Gianna Thomas Avatar
    Gianna Thomas

    Thank you for your comments, Lois. I agree that reviews being public are mostly for the readers, but the authors also benefit from the feedback as well. After all, the reviews do usually contain a few comments about the author’s writing and whether the book was well written, had a good plot, was an enjoyable read, etc.

    You mentioned that in reviewing you also give specifics to support your views. It’s those specifics that help readers and authors as well. Keep up the good reviews.

  13. Jennifer Redlarczyk Avatar
    Jennifer Redlarczyk

    I agree, it is disappointing that more readers don’t leave reviews. My most recent publication has a rating of 141 and only 17 of those ratings are actual reviews. (I didn’t put my book on KU, by the way.) Hundreds of people have bought my book since it came out, not to mention 500 people read it for free on the darcyandlizzy.com forum. By the way, I recently read an article saying that Amazon may not allow reviews for non-verified purchases, which would be a sadness since some folks do read for free on the forums, win contests and receive arc copies. One of my 17 reviews was a non-verified from a forum reader. So far it hasn’t been taken down.

    Also, I have to be careful reviewing because I am an author. Twice I have had my reviews taken down with a response from Amazon saying that I was a personal friend of the author, even though I had never met the author. In both cases, I had purchased an eBook as well as the print. I suppose my association with authors who post on our forum would count as friends? Not to mention those I comment on with Facebook.

    All in all, It would be nice if more folks left reviews. As for reading them, I agree many have valid points and those who really enjoy your tales do make one’s day. Thanks for your article and best wishes with your books.

  14. Gianna Thomas Avatar
    Gianna Thomas

    Congratulations on your latest book doing well, Jennifer.

    My question to Amazon is ‘why have Kindle Unlimited if you don’t allow the reader to review the books?’ Since many authors are also voracious readers, Amazon might also be eliminating a lot of the reviewers as well. If they are actual readers, they should allow us to review too.

    I agree with you also that forum readers and winners of contests should be allowed to review. Personally, when I review it’s because I really liked the book. I’m not making up comments just to make the author look good. I have read some reviews that made me wonder if the reviewer was just slamming the book to make the author look bad, and I really wonder at the one star ratings with no review. Makes me think of a coward who is just trying to pull the author’s ranking down. And, unfortunately, it takes several five stars to raise ranking from a one star. 🙁

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