The Good the Bad and the Ugly

No doubt, like many, you have left a product review. This has been our privilege since the beginning of online retail websites. The idea behind a review is to inform potential purchasers about your experience, whether that is good or bad. One of the biggest flaws with a review is that each is subjective. What you may find great, may not be that of others, in fact, it may be the complete opposite. Product reviews are in many ways similar to film, theatre and restaurant critic reviews in the way they vary. However, this does not mean that they are not of value.

Reviews are social proof of the quality/popularity of a book. They are very helpful in enabling an author to use book promotional services e.g. BookBub. They also assist in boosting an author's visibility and sales. i.e. If you see a book with fifty reviews and one with five, which one is more likely to draw your attention? I guess that you would be drawn to the book with fifty reviews. Authors really do value your reviews, even if in some instances it may not seem like it. All that we ask is that you leave an honest review, no matter how big or small.

A review need not take much of your time. It can be just be a few lines, or it can contain a short overview of the plot, but not a detailed outline (due to spoilers), and your experience as a reader. Also, any of the following:

  • How it makes you feel.

  • The good/bad aspects of the story.

  • The atmosphere of the story.

  • Are the characters believable?

  • Your willingness to read more books by the author, particularly if the book is part of a series.

  • Any other aspect you feel is relevant to prospective readers.

Most would think that the subject of Book Reviews would not be controversial, but far from it. The deeper you dig the more dirt you find. Do I take book reviews seriously? Yes and no, much depends on who is reviewing and by what means.

There are many websites where you can buy books or dedicated websites about books. Readers can leave reviews and comments about the book they have read. The two biggest are Amazon and Goodreads, which incidentally was bought by Amazon in 2013. 

In the past, the only place you could find book reviews were in newspapers and magazines. Times changed allowing anyone and everyone to have their say. This may not be a bad thing, but just like social media, online reviewing has its downsides. As soon as you allow anyone to play God things can start to get out of hand. Leaving glowing reviews, or scathing one-star reviews for books isn’t anything new and I am not intimating that it isn’t anyone’s right to do so. However, there are as in many things in life, the bad players, authors, and readers alike.   

The practice of sock puppets (creating fake accounts) has been around for many years. Authors have been known to partake in this to create interest in their work, by leaving themselves, five-star reviews, or to do the opposite, leaving rivals one-star reviews. Does an Amazon review with a "Verified Purchaser" status prevent fraud? No, even this is flawed, authors can arrange for fake reviewers to purchase their books from Amazon.

Next, there’s the ugly practice of exploitation by one-star review bombing. Scammers wishing to blackmail an author into paying them money for the review bombing to stop, have been known to carry this out. In some cases, a person or a group of people may have a problem with the author and partake in negative review bombing in retaliation. Ironically, without ever reading one sentence of the books they are attacking. I wish people would not resort to this kind of troll-like behaviour, but sadly, it is prevalent. There are also incidents of harassment of genuine reviewers by authors. Reviewers and authors should not be intimidated or be subjected to ad hominem attacks.

All that is asked, is that a genuine, honest review is left, and in return it should be respected.