C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Writers: Was this post helpful to you?

I bought a book today by an author previously unknown to me. At six bucks plus, it was the most expensive ebook I’ve purchased in a long time. (Usually my ebook purchases are from indies, not trad publishers.) I bought this ebook because of one of its reviews. I did not buy because the review raved. The book caught my attention because the review’s tone was so damnably condescending, I had to make the purchase. This wasn’t a case of pitying the author. There were good reviews, too. Also, it helped that I suspected this was a book I would enjoy. It sounded smart and sure and people who liked it said it elevated and challenged its genre.

Whatever the book’s merits will be, the key component for the purchase was that the reviewer was too much of a jerk. What is it about bad reviews that so often reveal more about the reviewer than the book being reviewed? I emailed the author to tell him I bought his book. It sounded interesting and I wished him success with it. I look forward to reading it, but what can the rest of us take from this?

Take this post as a small salve to authors’ bruised egos.

People will love your work and others will hate it, but I want you to know that readers are generally intelligent people. They often see through the reviewer’s veil more than you might think. Readers divine intent when they read over-the-top malice and subtract value from a nasty review. Yea or nay, readers like thoughtful reviews. They get it when a reviewer sounds disrespectful or less than literate. Good readers (people who buy a lot of books!) aren’t easily impressed by cheap shots and snarky remarks. When a review is especially egregious, you might even get a sale out of it. 

I’m not saying bad reviews are better than happy ones, but don’t take the bad ones too much to heart. Also, when you spot a really nasty one that goes at the author personally instead of the book? Be sure to click “No” beside the question, “Was this review helpful to you?”

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8 Responses

  1. itlnbrt says:

    That’s very true and exactly how I feel when I’m looking for a book to read. I see the bad reviews and can tell the ignorant ones from the truly genuine ones. These are my thoughts as a reader, who knows how I’ll feel when I get my first bad review when my book comes out. :/ LOL! No, but really. I know that not everyone likes the same things and we can’t please everyone. So, I’ll take them with a grain of salt.

    Great post.

  2. Denise DeSio says:

    Rose’s Will recently got a 2 star review among 35 four and five star reviews. The reviewer totally trashed it with language that didn’t identify anything specific about the novel. except one reference that could be read in the 2nd paragraph of the free sample. You could plop the rest of the review on any book at all and it could apply (or not) to every single one of them. Apparently I must have pissed someone off personally, to deserve such a rating.

    Good to know that a cantankerous read might possibly buy it just for spite after reading that review. Hope there are more discriminating people like you, Chazz.

  3. denisedesio says:

    Oops! I meant to say a cantankerous *reader.

  4. MishaBurnett says:

    I always check the lower star reviews first when looking at reviews–often what someone else doesn’t like about a book is exactly what I am looking for. Unless it’s a review from pure spite (which happens of course) generally when someone bothers to write a review of a book they he or she doesn’t like, it’s because it is well-written but not to that reviewer’s particular taste.

  5. Great post. And great advice on the value and use of the “was this review helpful” button.

  6. Great article, and thanks for pointing out the alternative viewpoint on ‘rotten reviews’.

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