I’ll admit here that I did something yesterday that’s a bit hypocritical. I posted a review at Amazon without reading the book. I gave it five stars. Why did I do such a thing? The answer is fairly simple. People are allowed to give reviews and rate books based on nothing to do with the book itself, and I take issue with this.
This made some news with Stephen King’s new short story collection. The book had a 3 1/2 star rating, mostly thanks to forty odd one-star reviews that did nothing but complain about the fact that the kindle edition of the book was 45 cents more than the hardcover. While this is indeed an issue with Amazon, the hardcover is discounted while the kindle edition is not, it has nothing to do with the quality of the book itself. As I talked about in a prior post, reviews are for one purpose only, to give an opinion about the content of the book which will encourage or discourage other readers to read the book. That’s it.
If people have a problem with the seller or publisher of the book, trashing the author with a poor review rating is not the appropriate method for expressing this opinion. There are other venues. An Amazon review may be convenient, but it accomplishes nothing. Amazon doesn’t care. They don’t remove these kinds of reviews. The publishers aren’t checking these places to see what people say. Complaining in this venue about pricing is pointless. So, please, don’t do it. While it may have no effect on the likes of Stephen King, for a midlist or debut author, trashing an book’s review rating can impact sales. Not significantly mind you, but for the reader who skims through genres and checks out books with high review ratings for possible purchase, it can mean no sales. You can hurt the non-bestselling author by doing this, and it’s a fact that they have absolutely nothing to do with how books are priced. So, why pick on them?
Reviews are for talking about why you liked or didn’t like the book. There are ways to do this well. You can even put in there that you don’t appreciate the pricing of the books, but don’t rate the actual book based on this fact. Read the book and talk about it. Find other ways to formally complain about non-author issues, because the author won’t be able to do jack about them.
Tomorrow: some tips from some reviewing pros.