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Reviews and such

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 :)

19 thoughts on “Reviews and such”

  1. Charlene Reiser says:

    I personally do not look at all reviews. If I do it is mainly with authors I have not read before. But with that being said I personally think some if the reviews I have read are crazy. I have seen reviews where people Colson about spelling errors and other things that I overlook. I realize we as readers are paying for books and I do try to rate the books I read but I do not nit pick like I have seen. I do not think there is anything wrong with ac3 star review as I have read dome very good books with a 3 star review.again just my thoughts.

  2. Ambrosia says:

    I agree with you actually. I also personally do not always think a 3 star review means meh, at least for me it doesn’t. I approach the star ratings I give with what I call the bad and good piles. If there is mostly good and very little or no bad 5, Mostly good but a few “bad” things 4..about even on both 3 ect. So as a reader there is my little bit at how I look at the ratings when I give the, and like you I prefer to read more detailed reviews before I purchase.

  3. Hi, Maya!

    As I tweeted at you earlier, here’s my rating system:

    1 – Hated it. Probably won’t try author again.

    2 – Disliked it, but would probably give author another chance.

    3 – Liked it. Not exceptional, but a good, solid read. Enjoyable and will continue with author/series without thinking about it.

    4 – Loved it. Really enjoyed it. A favorite from the author/series and will reread in the future.

    5 – OMG THIS WAS THE BEST THING I’VE EVER READ. I give about 5-10 of these a year. They’re VERY rare from me.

    I’ve found reviews which are 2s or 3s are MUCH harder to write. I have to articulate what I liked/didn’t like about the book. 1s are usually just rants. 5s are Gushing fangirl squees. 4s are still usually pretty glowing, but 2s and 3s are really difficult for me.

    Also, I’m far more willing to trust a 3-star review than a 1 or a 5. If its a 1, who knows what circumstances affected the reviewer. I know if I’m in a really bad mood or a bad place emotionally, I could have read the best romance in the history of all romance and I’d still probably not enjoy it. And if it’s a 5 (or even a 4) who knows if its someone doing a fangirl squee. I’m TOTALLY guilty of that, but at least I say it up front when I give a book a 5. LOL. When I wrote my 5-star review for Vivian Arend’s Rocky Mountain Freedom my tweet was something along the lines of “If you’re looking for objectivity, move along. I’m in love.” LOLOL.

    I absolutely agree with you that author participation in conversations about reviews kills the discussion. People (including me) find it awkward to discuss anything they didn’t like when they think the author might be “watching.” I recently wrote a 3-star review for an anthology which contained 2 of my favorite authors and I felt HORRIBLY guilty thinking they saw it. LOL.

    I did have one response from an author once. I had posted an honest, but unfavorable review of an older book. I had said in the review that while I didn’t like it, I WAS a fan of the author and this would in no way stop me from reading her. After all, no author will have a 100% rate with every author. This author sent me a message which said “I’m sorry you didn’t like the book. I hope you’ll try me again.” I felt a little uncomfortable. I didn’t feel like I could really respond. I appreciate she didn’t jump on me for the review, but there was no good way to have a conversation about it.


  4. Kaetrin says:

    On my blog I grade with letters A through to D/F & DNF, which I then have to translate to star ratings on Goodreads.

    For me, an A is an excellent book
    a B+ is very good
    a B is good
    a B- is good with some reservations
    a C+ is better than ok
    a C is okay, satisfactory, enjoyable but not particularly noteworthy
    a C- is disappointing but had it’s moments
    D grades are bad and DNFs are worse (although there is a caveat there that sometimes it is just a hot button thing with me or that I wasn’t in the right reading zone.)

    So A reads are 5 stars,
    B zone reads are 4 stars (but I say 3.5 stars in the body of the review for b-) and
    C/C+ reads are 3 stars (but I say 3.5 stars in the body of the review for C+)
    2 is C-/D
    And 1 star is reserved for DNF or books I really really dislike.

    It’s very complicated but I try to be consistent. And in all my reviews I say what I liked and what I didn’t and most of the time there is at least something in each category.

    I read 251 books this year and of those 29 were 5 star reads for me. I had a good reading year but I don’t give out A/5 stars often.

  5. Amanda Sheila says:

    To be honest, I’m not good at reviewing books. Unlike some on that ‘particular’ site that wrote sparkly reviews full of quotes, pictures and smart comments. No, I’m not one of them.

    But I rarely read reviews. Why? Because, they could be a guide to cul-de-sac. You know what I mean?

    Once I read a freaking bad review about a book that I’d love to read. The words on it keep clouding my head then I decided to not read that book. Until a year later, I read that book accidentally and it turns out so good.

    Or when I read good review about one book with cute cover, but when I read the book, oh my god it was so horrible I couldn’t even finished it.

    So that’s why I kind of stop reading reviews. I prefer to listen my gut feeling.

    I agree with you, about not reading reviews about your own book. It could be misleading and let you “love” yourself too much if you keep letting others indulging you. You’ll not grow and learn from your mistakes. So.. Yeah.

  6. Tina says:

    It is subjective what the stars mean. When I rate a book it is based on what I think it means. To me 3 stars means it was good but not necessarily a book I would read a second time. A 1 means I wish I hadn’t wasted the time. A 2 means that it was okay but I wouldn’t read it again. A 4 means I really liked it and might read it again when I have time. A 5 means I really really liked it and will read it again (maybe right after I just finished it).

  7. Lisa says:

    I stumbled across your books on the Kindle, looking for historical romance book. (With time travel if I can find it…) Your books are so easy to fall into and leaves me begging for more of your work. Now this sounds like a review of your books, but honestly I want to say that I felt like I struck gold on finding your work and you’re my favorite author now. Notice I did not even leave any reviews behind. Nor I do not read reviews before reading a book. Ever. I am the sort of person that collects library books weekly and just read them and toss them if I don’t like it beyond the first chapter.

    One last word of note (you do not have to publish this last paragraph for privacy) One of the first books I accidentally found and read and finished it was with the deaf character, Eveline Armstrong, in “Never Seduce a Scot”. I was blown away because you described her just like me, because I am deaf, too. Wow!

  8. Laura says:

    I sometimes read reviews, but I usually don’t leave them. Why? Because I generally love characters, love stories, and love most of the books I read. Of course I love some more than others (I have read the KGI books multiple times). I think if an author put their time and effort into their characters, then I’m going to immerse myself in those characters. Now, I haven’t liked every story I have read, but I do read everything with an open mind, and I don’t know if other readers would find my words helpful. Besides, I have been disappointed in some of my favorite authors at times and it frustrates me to see someone reviewing a book as “perfect” when it is full of errors. This usually happens when someone is writing from another characters point of view or the timing or details in the story are not consistent. I may still love the story and the characters, but it wouldn’t be “perfect”. Besides, since everyone’s personal tastes and opinions are different, readers need to read and make up their own minds. I usually just read the synopsis and decide if the story interest me. Their are some bloggers though that I follow and I will read their recommendations, but I also look at the recommendations from Kobo and Kindle. Besides, that’s how I found your books. Kobo recommended Softly at Sunrise. Of course I bought it, read a couple of pages, then stopped and bought The Darkest Hour which led to the rest of the series, the Colter Series and the Breathless Trilogy. I will continue to read books that interest me no matter what the reviews say. I have to say I have read books I never would have thought I would read, but I am glad I have.

  9. Rebecca Daigle says:

    This is the first time I’ve actually commented on an author’s blog. I felt the need to express how much in love with the Sweet Series I am.
    I’m a huge fan of the 50 Shades Series and had found Sylvia Day’s Crossfire Series, which I love as well. But I couldn’t find anything else afterwards that kept my attention…..until now. I researched this particular genre through my local libray and came across your name, and the MANY books of yours they offer. I started with the Sweet Series 2 days ago. 3 books in and thirsting for more. My library can’t get them to me fast enough. I’m completely enthralled with your writing style and can’t wait to get started on your other works.
    I am really glad I stumbled across your name and will be looking forward to reading whatever you come out with next. Thanks!

  10. Sonya says:

    Have you ever seen where a book is listed as being a 4 to 5 star book and then you go to check the reviews and there are none? This is one of the reasons I do not pay much attention to the reviews. Also I have seen reviews that the people were commenting on others reviews of the book and not what the book was about.
    Because I let reviews sway me, I have bought books that I did not like so did not finish. There have also been books that I did not read for years based on bad reviews and loved when I finally read them.
    Now, instead of reviews I check out authors websites to read excerpts amd download samples of the books from book sellers. This helps me pick out which books to buy and which ones to check out at the library.
    As far as writing reviews, I find it hard no matter what I THINK about the book. Authors put so much of themselves into their stories who am I to criticise their work to others. Just because I feel one way does not mean others will.

    1. Deb says:

      Ditto. And some of the ones I liked the most were free. Go figure.

  11. Deb says:

    Thank you for your insight. Very helpful as a reader and reviewer. In all the years I have been reviewing, I have only had one author rake me over the coals for a review. It was very disconcerting but I still continue to review and be as honest as I can be. I try not to be cruel but if I feel I have been misled or manipulated by a book other readers need to know this. Sometimes, and this is a publisher issue probably, books are re-released under a different title or you are not informed a book is the 17th in a series of 35 and you can’t access previous works or download them to your Kindle. I admire you for not reading the reviews. You are secure in your abilities and I have found that I disagree with many reviews anyway. If a Maya book comes out, I’m reading it no matter how many stars it has.

  12. Dr. Rene' - Ramona Dawson, Ed.D. says:

    I felt so passionate about what Maya had to say, I wanted to write. I NEVER read reviews. If I like an author, I buy HER books, period. Who cares what people think anyway?!…..maybe those lacking in self-esteem!! As my mother always said, “They talked about Jesus Christ!” Individuals who do review books for a living may be envious because they do not have the talent to write and get published themselves. Maya….I stumbled onto your work by accident. Thanks for making my work and down time more appealing!!…..I hope now your readers can now put that subject to rest!!

  13. Colleen says:

    I have to say this blog was disappointing to me. I don’t often review books because I believe everyone has a right to read a story for themselves and decide whether they like it or not. I don’t usually read reviews either, unless I’m on the hunt for a new author. When I do take the time to write a review, my comments are feedback to the author about what touched me most about a story or what I found disappointing. When I take the time to write a review it is likely an author I am following or something new that really captured me. How sad that an author I invested the time in writing to could care less about a reader’s feedback. Kinda arrogant if you ask me. I have been following your work for a few years now, and I must say I’m just disappointed. I pre-ordered the last several KGI novels because I loved the series so much, but I think I’m going to pass on the next. You have lost touch with your readers (me at least) and what pulled them into your stories. I was dying to read Donovan’s story, but it was so far from what I loved about KGI. So sad. :( Some of the reviews I saw had great feedback.

  14. Mandy says:

    I love Maya’s books. I have read 3 series and can’t wait for the slow burn series to come out. If people are looking for reviews, I recommend to go to Amazon. I feel they have the best reviews. There are a lot of review that you can read. I read the reviews to see what people have to say. Plus, I buy all my books and e-books from there.

  15. After popping by your blog to decide if I was missing a book in the M&A series I ended up here on your blog. I can’t help but believe I was supposed to read this post as I have a very hard time distancing myself from reviews that are left for my work.

    All I can say is thank you thank you thank you – this brought it all into prospective for me – I will never read a good/bad review again. Bravo.

  16. Alyssa says:

    Unfortunately, I have just now discovered you! I read through the entire Breathless Trilogy in less than a week….I’m thankful my husband hasn’t checked the bank account yet to see how much I’ve spent in the Kindle store on Amazon! I’m sad that I had to part with Gabe & Mia, Jace & Bethany and Ash & Josie. I get so attached to characters in a book series and get upset when it ends. Is there any chance that you would revisit this series and write another book or 3?!?!?? Hey, it doesn’t hurt to as, right?? :)

  17. Becke says:

    Is there any book that intertwine with Simon & Toni? I’d like to know a little more about Matt, Aj & Mike!!!! Plus it would be nice to catch up with them & the baby! (Yes I know their not real but like KGI & the “Sweet” series we get invested)

  18. Kiara Rivera says:

    When are you going to release “Highland ever after”???

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