Indie authors often lament the lack of reviews. In some cases, when we see a negative review for our work, we wish the reader hadn’t left one at all. But I’m starting to think differently. I think well thought out reviews (whether negative or not) helps the author pinpoint what they might be doing wrong. It also helps readers figure out if the book is for them.
Curious about reviews that established authors receive, I checked out Charlaine Harris’ first Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Until Dark. If you are unfamiliar with Ms. Harris’ work, this series has been made into a series by HBO, True Blood. I’m sure Ms. Harris made a lot of money off her books sales as well as from the televised series. Yet she still had 75 one star reviews for the first book in her series. What?
Disclaimer: (I own most of the books in this series and I’m an avid True Blood fan, so I’m a bit prejudiced.)
That’s right. Even Best Selling authors get negative reviews. Why? Because not every book will appeal to every person. This is why it is critical for readers to leave a well thought out review, especially if they don’t like the novel.
When I’m making a purchase, I always read a few top reviews and all of the negative reviews. Usually I have found that the people with the negative reviews either had a defective product or they didn’t read the description and were unsatisfied with the product because it wasn’t what they expected. I’ve found the last part to be true for some people who leave a negative book review.
I write erotica, which means GRAPHIC sex and STRONG language. Yet some people will read an erotica novel and leave a bad review because it has graphic sex and strong language. What did they expect? So when I’m checking out reviews, in my mind, that 1 star just became a 5 star.
I have also found errors where the person is raving about how much they like the book but they give it a two star. If you liked it that much, shouldn’t you give it a higher rating? I think part of the problem is that we are working on different systems. I wish there was a way to unify the rating system. We have 1-5 stars, but everyone seems to have a different qualifier for each star.
This is how I would rate a book.
1 star-Couldn’t get past the first quarter of the book.
2 stars-Made it halfway and I quit.
3 stars- I finished it.
4 stars-Loved it. You should read it, too
5 stars – LOVED it and plan on buying the next book by the author. I’m telling my friends about it because it was AWESOME! When are they going to make a movie?
So please, if you find a good book that you enjoy reading, leave a review. Share it with your friends. And if it wasn’t for you, leave a good description of why it wasn’t for you. It might help someone else decide the book is the perfect match for them.
If you are looking for the next best thing, don’t discount the negative reviews. Read both the best and worst reviews and make up your own mind. Indie authors usually have at least one free book for you to sample. If it’s an eBook, most websites allow you to download and read the first 20%, so you can make a decision for yourself.