Do You Like And Support Indie Authors? Then Don’t Do This

I normally try to be careful about what I say about things like reviews, but I noticed something that really gets my goat.  On Barnes & Noble, someone left this one-star review for my mystery novel This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies:

This may be a great book. I read another Reed Ferguson, but this one came out with the typography all garbled so it could not be understood.

Seriously???  Where is the review of the book?  Where’s the discussion of what you liked (or didn’t like) about the story, the characters and so on?  This review has nothing to do with the book…and that’s what a review should be about.

All this reviewer has done is hurt me as an author.  Why?  Because that one star affects my overall rating, which other shoppers see, and it affects my ability to advertize, as many sites want a minimum review rating (usually 4 stars or higher).

I’m all for honest reviews…of the book!  You want to tell me I stink as a writer, that’s okay.  I can take it.  If you say that I have typos or grammatical errors, that’s a fair critique.  I’ve learned things from reviews, both positive and negative, and before someone says I’m saying don’t give negative reviews, let’s be clear.  I’m not.

What I am saying is that if you have a problem with an a book’s formatting – it’s garbled, didn’t get delivered correctly, etc. – things the author has no control of – then the complaint should be taken to the company.  Why?  Because Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites don’t read the reviews!  They have no idea that you’re upset, like this reviewer was.

I get it – you’re upset that the product you bought wasn’t what you expected.  And here’s the thing: I’m just as upset as you are that you didn’t get the ebook delivered correctly.  That stinks.  But again, to leave this kind of review only hurts the author.  It doesn’t help you get the issue straightened out.  It doesn’t help Amazon or whatever site improve their systems.  They do need to know, but trying to alert them with a negative review isn’t the way to do it.

So, a plea from an author, if you run into this situation, please think about the author before you write this kind of review.

What do you think?

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
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10 Responses to Do You Like And Support Indie Authors? Then Don’t Do This

  1. Lilian says:

    Amazon and Barnes & Noble are infected with reviews that have absolutely nothing to do with the book being reviewed. Some readers feel they have the right to pour out their general vitriol and spiteful frustrations via one star reviews, and some of them are so poorly expressed in terms of spelling and grammar that it astounds me that the person responsible can actually read at all.

    Some reviews are nothing more than a litany of personal abuse against an author that the perpetrators have never met – they say nothing about storyline or characters and give no clue as to why the reviewer doesn’t like a story. I’ve seen one star reviews for books along the lines of ‘this wasn’t long enough.’ What the heck does that say about the story? Nothing.

    I’ve also seen one star reviews for ebooks that the complainant has claimed to be ‘riddled with spelling mistakes’ when in fact the reviewer has just been too dumb to take into account the differences between British and American grammar.

    In my personal opinion reviews have been given too great a sense of importance by authors and publishers desperately scrabbling for 5 star reviews. It has led to reviewers having an inflated sense of power, which many then abuse.

    A five star review doesn’t mean a book is fantastic per se just as a one star review doesn’t mean a book is terrible per se. It’s simply a reflection of the personal tastes of a variety of people. I’ve read books with a majority of 5 star ratings that have bored me to death and read others with far lower ratings that I have actually enjoyed. At the end of the day reviews after all are merely opinions, the opinion of ONE person, and opinions are much like bottoms in that everyone has one. :)

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I agree with all your points except one – I think readers put as much importance on reviews as authors and publishers. Just go look on Amazon discussions, or Goodreads, to see what reviewers think about leaving reviews and how they view them. Regardless, it is a dicey and frustrating thing, and it’s unfortunate that people are much more likely to spread negative thoughts about a book than positive.
      Thanks for your comment.

  2. This is so frustrating. Have you contacted Barnes & Noble to alert them? I received a one-star review on Amazon because someone got my book by mistake. The customer didn’t remember ordering it. I contacted Amazon and they took off that review. I think both authors and readers would be better off if they got rid of the easily abused and misused star system and just posted actual reviews of books. Thanks for all you do to help indie authors.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      I did try and report it but B&N’s site was on the fritz. I will be letting them know and I hope they remove it. And I agree that there is much the sites could do to make review systems better for all of us, readers and writers.
      Thanks for the comment, and I hope my posts are helpful :).

  3. Ick. Sucks some people don’t understand the difference between reviewing a physical product (like a toaster or a TV) versus reviewing a creative work (a book, a movie, an album) and what is helpful to discuss in each case. A dud DVD doesn’t equal a bad movie, just means that physical copy of the movie is bad. Has no effect on the quality of the creative work. Ditto books.

  4. Bert Carson says:

    I love this post. It’s just too damn bad that the people you wrote it for aren’t going to read it. In fact, I have an idea that reading is way down their list of skill sets.
    I had one real piece of crap review that, like yours, didn’t mention the book, but rather quickly evolved into a personal attack. It was so bad, that with no prompting from me, Amazon took it down.
    Before they pulled it I cut and pasted it into a blog post that I suspect sold more books than the review cost me.
    Keep on keeping on my friend.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      What you say is true, but I feel a little better :). Bad reviews are tough, but part of the business. This one was just frustrating.
      Thanks for your thoughts, and keep writing.

  5. I agree totally. The review should be about the book. Until reading your post, I would have never guessed that people did anything but review the story.

    • Renée Pawlish says:

      Unfortunately, no. Many authors receive reviews that have nothing to do with the book – the reviewer attacks the author, or the site providing the book, and so on. It’s too bad.
      Thanks for your comment.

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