I did a search the other day on novel reviews, horror book reviews, mystery book reviews, and others. It was interesting to see what sites came up, but as I read through some of the sites, I wondered if any of those sites really help either the mainstream published author, or the indie author. Don’t get me wrong, novel reviews in general help sell books, but do you ever wonder about those reviews? Who is doing the reviews (hint – did someone actually read the book)? Do reviews sway a reader (is bad press better than no press)?
The Indie Author and Novel Reviews
The other day Linda Story Runnebaum posted on my Facebook fan page and said she read my horror book Nephilim Genesis of Evil. Here’s what she said:
Just finished Nephilim! I LOVED it!!!!!!!!!!! It was so good! I’m getting ready to go in and give a review. Thanks Renee! You are an inspiration to an aspiring author. Thanks for the wonderful example of great writing!
Very, very flattering for me indeed – and I am extremely grateful to Linda for saying such kind words. And she posted a great review on Amazon.
But I’m curious…how much does a review like hers help? Does it reach readers or sway them into buying the book? How many novel reviews like this does an indie author (or any author) need for it to make a difference? Now I will say it again, I am extremely grateful for all the great reviews I get…but what does it mean to a random reader scrolling through Amazon or Barnes & Noble? I hope it helps, but how many is enough? And would it help if I had these kind of reviews on sites that focus primarily on horror book reviews? Or other sites?
Indie Authors and Horror Book Reviews, Mystery Book Reviews, and Others
Should I get on these specialized sites? Are they better than Amazon? I don’t know, but let’s face it, Amazon is Goliath. This is where most of us indie authors are making the bulk of our sales It’s also where most readers go for novel reviews. But there are some things that bother me about people’s perceptions of reviews, at least those posted on Amazon.
Let me preface this by saying that many of us, as indie authors and readers of indie authors, have asked the question about gate-keeping – is there some way to keep the crap books from being published? Go to the Kindle forums and see how many readers rip on indie authors and wish there was a way to identify an indie author, or wish that indie authors would have to identify themselves as indie authors so those readers could avoid those authors. Yes, I know there are gems out there, and these readers are missing out, but that’s a discussion for another post.
But as an author, I wonder, can there be some gatekeeper system to keep the crap reviewers out of the system? :) I jest, but it’s important to note that any Joe Blow can submit a novel review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble and many other sites. I can’t tell you how many authors are burned by readers who have not read the author’s book but post a bad review anyway. Or they say the book wasn’t what they expected (did they sample the book before buying it) so they trash the book. Yes, there are great reviewers, and pointing out a book’s poor writing, poor plot and so on are valid and fair, but that’s also a discussion for another post.
Indie Authors and Novel Reviews on Amazon
Back to Amazon. As an indie author, I love the opportunity that Amazon has given me. It has opened up new doors for me to get my books in the hands of readers. But sometimes Amazon has too much power. Sometimes Amazon needs to pull back some of the control they let readers have (readers are able to report authors for typos and grammar errors, even if the reader is wrong! But that’s for another post, too). Sometimes reviewers need to be reviewed, so to speak.
I was burned by a reviewer when Nephilim first came out in 2006. I had numerous great reviews but someone didn’t believe that a novel could have so many great reviews, and she posted her own review (I use this sarcastically) that accused me, the author, of fabricating Amazon accounts and creating reviews (sock puppet reviews). She hadn’t even read the book, but somehow felt she should police Amazon reviews and targeted me. So let me see if I understand this…if readers love my book and I don’t get bad reviews, this must mean some deception is going on? What am I supposed to do? Fabricate Amazon accounts and create bad reviews so it doesn’t look like I’m fabricating good reviews?
Indie Authors and Novel Reviews on Amazon Part Two
Another thing that bothers me about Amazon reviews is the term Amazon Verified Purchase. Why is this important? It may seem so, but let me give some scenarios where it shouldn’t matter if the book was purchased on Amazon or not.
First, if Amazon is soliciting reviews, and they let anyone post a review, even if the reader hasn’t verified that he/she finished reading the book, or read the book at all, or understands correct grammar and so on. So why should it matter if the book was purchased through Amazon?
Second, what about someone who read the book at a library? Their input should be valuable, even if they didn’t purchase the book. This reader shouldn’t be relegated only to sites for other library patrons.
Third, what about the person who borrowed a book from a friend? Again, is this reader’s input not valuable for other readers and potential buyers? It should be.
Fourth, what if the author (me, for instance) bought paperback books at wholesale and sold them to my family and friends? If they put a review on Amazon, does this somehow devalue the review? It shouldn’t.
Authors, whether they be indie authors or mainstream published authors, do in fact need novel reviews. Reviews do help sales (even bad reviews). So let readers post them and who cares if the book was purchased at the site where the review is posted.
Indie Authors and Novel Reviews on Amazon Part Three
I’m on a roll :). Here’s another thing about those Amazon reviews. Did you know that reviews for mainstream published authors are frequently paid for, and the reviewers don’t even read the books? I suspected it, but this was confirmed the other day on a Facebook page that I belong to. A former editor from one of the big publishing firms acknowledged this. Sure, some of you may not believe me, but ask this – how is it that the second a mainstream published book hits the market, it’s got great reviews from readers (I’m not talking about editorial reviews where someone got an ARC)? Seems fishy to me…
Indie Authors and Bad Novel Reviews
I’ve said this before. If you receive a bad review, and you really know (deep down) that the reviewer is wrong, let it go. Whatever you do, don’t engage a reviewer. There are too many times where this turns against you, the author. And remember, bad reviews do help sales because people are still curious (why does this author have a bunch of great reviews but a few bad ones – what am I missing?).
I think I sound a bit snarky in this post. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone, readers or authors. Here’s where I come down on the whole issue of novel reviews. Most reviewers are just being honest and I appreciate that. I want as many reviews as I can get, good, bad, or indifferent. I love and support book reviewers and book bloggers – they provide an invaluable service to the writing community, especially those that will take chances on indie authors. All I can do is commit to writing the best books I possibly can, and I hope anyone who reviews my books will give me the most honest reviews possible.
Whew! I’m finished. What are your thoughts?
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