Sunday, January 15, 2012

Do Reviews Make a Difference?

I've been a writer for a lot of years. I write because I have to. It's part of me, like my blue eyes and freckles. I love sharing what I write with readers. If they enjoy my books, that's a huge plus for me. Sometimes they enjoy one so much, they'll send me a private email (which I love), or write a review at the online store where they purchased my book.

And sometimes they *don't* like my book and write a not-so-good review.

I'm not saying no one should ever write a bad review. Everyone is entitled to her/his opinion. A book my friend loves may get tossed across the room to splat against the wall from me, or vice versa.

I think a person has to feel strongly about a book to write a review in the first place. But does that one bad review among several good ones make a difference to you as a reader? Will you believe the "this book was so bad" review or the "I loved everything about this book" review? Will you not buy the book, even though you'd planned to, because of a bad review?

I'm a writer, but I'm a reader too. I want to know the author's writing voice before I buy a book. I love the sample feature on the online sites. One click and I get a nice sample of the book on my Kindle in a few seconds. That's especially nice because not all authors post excerpts on their websites. I post the complete first chapter and an excerpt of all my books on my website. If you want a taste of my writing style, it's easy to find.

Readers want to spend their money on a book that will give them a few hours of reading pleasure. Will you take a chance on a new author if the excerpt/sample sounds good, even though someone put up a one-star review at your favorite online store? Do you only pay attention to books with four- and five-star reviews? How important are good reviews to you?



anny cook said...

I never read reviews--except for my own books. And unless someone points out a particularly good review for them, I don't even read those.

A review is one person's opinion. I might add, it's usually a STRANGER's opinion which means I know nothing about their reading tastes. Why would I depend on their opinion to make my own reading choices?

I know there are many people who do depend on the review to decide whether they will invest in a book. I'm just no one of them.

So, to answer your question--no, a review, good or bad, will not determine whether or not I buy your book.

Diana Hunter said...

I read reviews, but don't necessarily base my buying on them. If a book has caught my interest, I'll read the sample and then the reviews just to get an idea of the current "buzz" a book has. If they're all negative, I might skip purchasing it, but if they're mixed, I'm more likely to chalk that up to opinion and go ahead and spend my money.


Cait Miller said...

I love reviews because they are sometimes the only way to get a blurb for a book. (C'mon Amazon, get a grip!) They also give me a feel for the story and whether it has elements in it I won't enjoy. Doesn't matter to me whether they are negative or positive to me, I'm more interested in the content of the book.

Dannyfiredragon said...

Hi Lynn,

although I am reviewer my buying decision doesn't depend on reviews. Reviews are always a personal opinion. I read them, but I like to give the book a chance even if it has a bad review. Mostly I read reviews to see if there are certain things in a book that I don't like no hea or too much violence, rape etc.

Tam said...

I tend to trust the reviews of people I know. I've learned to do that over time and if a total stranger says "It sucked" but three people who I know have similar taste to me say it was great, then I tend to go with the great rating. However if someone says "I really disliked this because of X" and are able to clearly state what didn't work and I KNOW that I have similar reactions to X, then I'll likely believe it.

But total strangers saying 5* or DNF, don't really have any affect on my decision as a rule. I check Goodreads as my go-to place for reviews outside of personally run blogs.

Cait Miller said...

I should also say as an author, I think reviews are important. Yes bad reviews hurt and good reviews are awesome but ultimately they also mean that someone has read (usually) the book and cared enough to comment.

Angela Claire said...

As a reader, I sometimes read reviews. As an author, I'm ashamed to say I always do! I can't get over the thrill of finding out what someone else thought of my book...even when it's bad. One of the funniest I ever got was when one of my more popular books was initially and mistakenly categorized as more erotic than it should have been (sextreme instead of scorching). A reader who thought they were getting a sextreme book said all that plot and character stuff got in the way of the sex. It was really funny!

Harlie Reader said...

As a reviewer I would so but in reality, I don't think they do. I have read a review, bought the book, read it and wish I had never read the book.

Reviewing is all subjective. I don't think a review makes or breaks a book. Its ultimately up the reader and no one else.


N.J.Walters said...

Honestly, I don't pay a lot of attention to the ratings for reviews. I tend to scan them to see if I think the premise of the book is interesting or not. A review is one person's opinion and I might like a book another person doesn't.

Shelley Munro said...

I'm another that doesn't pay much attention to reviews when making a buying decision. On the odd occasion I have been influenced by a review, I've regretted it. Everyone has such widely varying tastes and personal baggage that makes a book work/ not work for them.

Ann Jacobs said...

I never read reviews unless they're for my own books and the reviewer points them out to me. The good ones, I link to from the book pages on my website, so...I guess I have to say I think reviews can make a difference.

A review would never influence me to buy or not to buy a book, though, especially if it was posted by someone who is not a recognized reviewer for books of that genre.

In other words, I wouldn't place any importance on reviews posted by readers at bookseller sites--they are often written by people who have an agenda, either to diss the book or gain it favorable publicity.

Tracey H. Kitts said...

When buying books, I seldom look at reviews. I'm also less inclined to believe someone who hates "everything" about a book. They usually just sound cruel to me rather than someone who was disappointed in the book.

I agree with Anny Cook. I don't read reviews most of the time, except for my own books. :)

Anne R. Allen said...

Important subject. I'm an avid review-reader, but I always take them with a grain of salt. Reviews are always at least 50% about the reviewer--usually more. I love reading the one-stars of classics. "A Tail of Too Citys is two hard and theirs way too many big wurds" is not going to keep any readers away from Dickens.

Unfortunately, Amazon algorithms DO pay attention to star ratings, so when you give a book a low star rating on Amazon, it will influence sales. Not because of whether readers pay attention to reviews, but because Amazon itself pays attention to the stars and won't put the book on the bestselling lists and "also-boughts"

If you really think a book is overrated, and you want to warn people away from it, then by all means, say so. I've done that with some bestsellers I thought were all hype. But if your reason for hating it is you broke up with your boyfriend you or you hate vampire novels, think twice. Your review has more power than you think.