I’ll preface this entire post with the fact that NONE of what I will be discussing in ANY way pertains to ME or MY writing or reviews done of my writing. It wouldn’t be possible at any rate, because while it may seem odd or unbelievable, I don’t read reviews of my books, good or bad. I don’t have a Google alert because I’ve always (and always will) said an author doesn’t NEED to know every single thing said about them on the web. You KNOWING what is said or inferred or whatever doesn’t change that it was SAID. So why give others the power to hurt you, make you feel bad or pick your poison (or emotion)
But I’m digressing *g* (nothing new about THAT)
But since I did bring it up, I’ll at least explain WHY I don’t read reviews of my own books. I firmly believe, and many would disagree, but others WOULD agree, that reviews are NOT for authors. Say it with me. Reviews are for READERS. Reviewers owe authors nothing. They’re shelling out their hard earned money for a book so regardless of whether they like it or not, they’ve earned the right to say or not say whatever they want about a book.
Which is why I hold firm in my position that reviews aren’t for authors. It isn’t a reviewers job to make an author feel validated or make them feel all warm and glowy over their books.
So you might ask yourself why I don’t read POSITIVE reviews. Well for one, how would I KNOW if a review was positive unless I was LOOKING for them or actively searching them out? Secondly, positive, glowing reviews can be as distracting as negative ones. Don’t scratch your head. Think about it for a minute. You get a review saying you are the best writer EVAH and you get all excited and then you drop everything and tell your friend, or tweet or retweet it then you post it on Facebook and then you bask and glow a little more and before it’s over with, several hours have gone by. Hours that you SHOULD have been writing the NEXT book ;) But hey, that’s just MY personal philosophy.What, in my opinion, the role reviews play such a huge part of is helping OTHER readers decide if they think they’d like or want to buy the book BASED on the opinions of others.
Reviews are tools. Nothing more. Nothing less. Well, I suppose I should amend that to say that reviews are also a way a reader is able to express their opinions of a book they spent hours or days reading. It’s a way for them to share with OTHER readers their thoughts and open dialogue to either agree or disagree.
It’s why I hate to see an author intrude in a reader conversation online, or pop into the comments, even if it’s to simply THANK a reviewer or commenter. No, I’m not being rude, nor do I want to appear ungrateful. But the presence of an author, again in my opinion, squelches conversation.
Even though everyone knows the internet and all it’s nooks and crannies aren’t private and that there is a likely chance the author COULD be “listening in” it still isn’t the same as when it’s a known FACT the author is there reading, responding. So the result is that readers then feel hesitant to express their honest, unvarnished opinion. (Not all do, but some, yes, they do absolutely)
What they might say if they didn’t KNOW the author was “there” could very well be different then if the perception was that the author wasn’t “around.”
It probably sounds silly but the thing is I’ve witnessed it far too many times for me to discount my opinion on this. I’ve read reviews (yes I DO read reviews, just not my OWN, but I’ll get to that in a minute) where a healthy, vigorous conversation is being held and then? The author pops in whether it’s to say thank you, be polite or the complete opposite and forget their crazy pills that day and go batshit crazy and then? Silence. Maybe one or two comments but for the most part, the conversation shuts down.
So with all that out of the way, I’ll finally get to the reason why I even began this particular discussion (aren’t you relieved?)
Over the years I’ve heard many (too many to count) authors say they’d rather get a 1 star review than a 3 star. That they either wanted a 5 or a 1 but nothing in between because in their mind a 3 meant “meh” that the reader wasn’t passionate about the book in a positive OR a negative way and that the general consensus among the authors I’ve conversed with over the years is that even if the reader HATED the book at least the author elicited a reaction, any reaction, instead of a *yawn* and a 3 star “meh” rating.
I think in the very (very) early stages of my career when I was still in that stage where I thought I knew a hell of a lot more than I did in actuality I probably agreed with this sentiment. More likely I’d just heard it often enough that I just sort of adopted it as truth.
But now? And again, remember, I’ve said that in my opinion, reviews are for READERS, so I’m going to address this from that perspective.
Now, I think 3 star reviews are by far and large the most HELPFUL reviews in aiding readers in their decision over whether to buy a book or not. Why?
Because a LOT of 5 star reviews are not a lot more than “OMG I loved it!!!” and maybe one or two lines that really give no insight into the STORY but just express their adoration. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not criticizing ANYONE here.
At the other end of the spectrum, the majority of the one star reviews I see are the same as the 5 star reviews except with the reverse sentiment.
I should probably take a moment to explain why I don’t read reviews of MY books but I’ll absolutely read them for books I’m buying.
Because I’m seeking information, clues, triggers and ESPECIALLY spoilers and I find that 1 and 5 star reviews don’t give me what I want and need to make that decision for me.
A reader who gives a book a 3 star review is, again, in my opinion (wow I’m saying that a lot aren’t I?) I just don’t want to give anyone the impression that what I’m saying is FACT and that I’m all arrogant and know it all. These are simply MY observations over the years.
Now, back to that reader who gives three star reviews. I find those 3 star reviews are usually a LOT longer than 1s or 5s. And they explain what worked for them AND what didn’t work for them. They give the positives AND the negatives and they inject more thoughtfulness into explaining or at least it seems that way to me.
Believe me, I get WHY reviewers dish out 1 star and 5 star reviews. Because sometimes you just can’t SUMMON anything more than “OMG I LOVE LOVE LOVED THIS” or “This is the worst piece of shit I’ve read in my life!” Because I’ve read those types of books where it overwhelmed me to fully outline how much I LOVED a book or how much I HATED a book.
But what I AM saying is that I don’t subscribe to the idea that a 3 star review is “meh” and that I find in my experience that one 3 star review will more often convince me to buy a book than a HUNDRED 5 star reviews. Especially if the review contains spoilers *g* I do love spoilers!
So that’s my rambling thoughts on reviews or at least the “dreaded” 3 star review :)