Today I came home from a book signing at Chapters in Sherwood Park Mall and found a very interesting email from an author friend of mine. She wanted to know about Amazon reviews and whether I read mine and how I perceived them.
"Do you take them as advice, guidance? If they aren't glowing, what are your thoughts? Does it make you not want to read more reviews?"
I always read my Amazon reviews. Sometimes it takes me a few days to notice I have a new one, like the time I got a glowing review (I think for Whale Song) on my birthday...and I missed it. I've been lucky in that most reviewers have been very nice to me, giving me 5 star reviews and a few 4s. I don't mind the 4s at all. I have received one 3 star review and she had lots of positive things to say but didn't like how I passed the time. One reader in thousands who have mentioned that to me. So I made sure I really read her review and thought about it. If I had a bunch of people saying the same thing I would hope that I would listen and learn from it.
Reviews are gold. They tell you what readers like. You have to look at them all as a whole though and not worry about the one or two negative or lower star reviews. I've had a few 3 star reviews I think on Goodreads. But no actual reviews so I don't know why. Usually people compare it to another book that they loved.
Reader reviews seem to be better received than author reviews, unless you get a big name. My review from Luanne Rice for Whale Song gets a lot of positive attention.
My friend also went on to say that she had just finished a novel by a New York Times bestselling author whose Amazon reviews were less than complimentary, and she felt she agreed, that the book didn't live up to a 5 star rating. She wondered how it became a bestseller.
I think with this bestselling novel, the readers compared it to one of her really good ones. That's the problem with having more than one book out. Every book will be compared to your first, which might be good if your first book sucks! lol I had a Top 100 Amazon reviewer give me 5 stars for Whale Song, then 4 on the other 2 novels. I knew exactly why. She liked Whale Song better. Many people do. In fact she said this in the comments section.
What I've learned and try to remind myself is that everyone has their own preference. Some don't like sex in a novel, some don't like violence, some don't like coming of age...etc. They are comparing your one book to whatever ones they've read that they loved. With this bestselling author, people know her name more and they will buy, hoping that it is as good as the last one they read that they loved. Some will be happy, some will be disappointed. It's the nature of the beast of writing. We can't possibly satisfy everyone.
So grab onto those 4 and 5 star reviews and rejoice in them. It means your work has made an impact in some way--made them laugh, cry, think...or lock their doors. :)
Since I write mystery suspense, I am usually hoping for the last, except with Whale Song which has made even grown men cry. ;-)
- Read Amazon reviews on Whale Song.
- Read Amazon reviews on Divine Intervention.
- Read Amazon reviews on The River.