Personally, I like reviews, whether for my books or books that I’m considering buying. I can’t speak for all authors, but I can for me. For my books, I don’t have to have all 5-star reviews. It would be nice, but it’s not going to happen as some reviewers refuse to give 5-stars and reviews will vary. That’s normal. What I do like to see in any review is:
- Appreciation for the 50-100+ hours that are put into a book with research and writing and hours of editing before sending to an editor and the hours of expanding and correcting after it’s returned
- Whether or not a reader liked the book and why
- What the reader especially liked
- A review of reasonable length
Among my books, ‘Attending a Ball’ has probably taken the hardest hits as far as reviews. It was a prequel to the original ‘Darcy Chooses’ and the very first fiction I had published when I was still wet behind the ears. Was the First Edition absolutely terrible? No, but it could have been better. However, later editions were improved, and I’m proud of it because it was my first P&P variation, and I tackled it when many others have hesitated to write even their first anything.
When ‘Darcy Chooses Part 1’ was published, after the prequel ‘Darcy and Bingley,’ reviews were again all over the place. One reviewer and her commenter accused me of plagiarism, stealing Jane Austen’s work/words. First of all, copyright on Jane Austen’s works had run out. And who on earth could plagiarize anything by Austen when practically every word she wrote has been memorized by half the planet? After all, ‘Darcy Chooses’ is a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation. 🙂
‘Darcy Chooses – The Complete Novel’ has garnered some nice reviews and is the longest book I have available. And, then again, some reviewers complained because they got a prequel and the full novel (Parts 1 and 2), and the book was too long. Some people you just can’t please no matter what you do. 🙂
Can I take constructive criticism? Yes, as that helps me become a better writer. How can I improve if I don’t know what a reader dislikes about my book? However, I will own up to growling at some of the reviews when they just seem to be nitpicking the book to death.
- You can just attack my book, but that doesn’t help me become a better writer. It also doesn’t help other readers checking out reviews either. And it doesn’t make you look good
- If there is something actually wrong in my book, please point it out so it can be corrected. If there is something horribly wrong, please contact me at Gianna@GiannaThomasPandP.com
- Legitimate complaints I will not object to. Just treat me the way you would like to be treated.
Goodreads.com is one review site that I’m rather ambivalent about. There one is allowed to do ratings without comments. This really works against any author when a reviewer only rates 1-3 stars with no remarks about why they give such a low rating. This is zero help to the author and to other readers/reviewers who are looking for information about the book. It gives a reviewer the ability to be nasty without being accountable. I find that irritating, and I imagine I’m not the only author that does so.
What I hate seeing in a review:
- Lies – One reviewer for another author said her book was a bodice-ripper and full of violence. Out and out lies. The book was so clean it squeaked. BTW Amazon refused to remove it in spite of several complaints of abuse.
- Spoilers – I hate when spoilers are mentioned with no warning. The reviewer has just insulted the other reviewers, potential buyers, and me. If you have to do spoilers, mention it ahead of time. And if you tell who the murderer is, I will hate you forever. 🙂
- A review on Amazon that goes on without end. For cat’s sake, don’t write a novel—that’s the author’s job—and don’t tell the plot of the whole blasted book. Allow other readers the courtesy of having some surprises.
- Nasty, ugly reviews just for the sake of being nasty. Now, that is really a bad character reference for a reviewer who does that.
One other thing that I have seen are reviews that started out ‘UGH!’ That tells me a lot about that reviewer, and it’s not good.
Why are reviews important to an author?
- Reviews help us to know where we’re at with our writing. Do the majority of our readers enjoy our books? And are our books basically free of grammar, punctuation errors, etc? Please remember, no book is completely free of errors—Jane Austen’s books have errors—because authors and editors are imperfect people. Don’t nitpick the book to death.
- Reviews can affect sales. Good reviews can help with sales; bad reviews can hurt sales.
- Reviews are also important if an author is posting his or her books on a number of ‘for sale’ sites. Some sites will not accept a book with less than a 4.0-star rating. That can hurt an author. I think that Bookbub may also take ratings into consideration as well for the books they feature.
- Getting a review from a reader that loved the book and spoke of it in glowing terms makes an author’s day. All the hard work, many hours, sleepless nights, and red eyes are validated by a beautiful review.
These are just some of my thoughts. Authors and reviewers, please feel free to add your thoughts about reviews below. And if you disagree with me, I promise not to hate you. 🙂