As an author I am thrilled to receive a good review from readers for my novels, but can someone deciding on a book to read trust the reviews posted at places like Amazon or Barnes and Nobel? Do four and five star ratings translate into a book one would enjoy? Or if the ratings are less than four stars, what are the chances the book is actually a good read? Could the review be written by a relative of the author?
The reason I ask these questions, after receiving nothing but five and four star ratings (mostly five) for a total of fifteen reviews rating my two novels, I received a three star rating on a review. I asked myself, “How would potential readers perceive it?” After a short period of concern, I realized my question should have been, “How can this review help me as an author?”
First let me comment on readers who post reviews. They can be classified as relatives of the author, other authors (most tend to read a great deal and are inclined to post reviews for solid works) and the general reading community. Relatives typically will write a good review and rate the book high. Other authors have a tendency to write solid reviews and provide an honest rating of what they have read. Many of these other authors are much like me… they will only review works they are comfortable with providing decent reviews for… they do not want to saddle other authors with negative reviews, so nothing is posted. The general reading community has no interest (that I am aware of) in making a book appear better or worse than their impression of the book.
What are the elements of the work that motivates how a reviewer will rate and review a book? I believe the answer to this is wide range. Some are very negative to editing mistakes. Others are less critical of editing, but want the work to flow well… is it an easy read? Items I believe every reader looks for are a good story, characters they can have empathy for, a plot without holes and the ability of the story to grab at their emotions.
It is my desire to assure potential readers of my novels that they have the best information possible prior to obtaining copies. To that end, I will continue to copy each reader review to my site, but I will also add information. If the reviewer is a relative, it will be noted. If the reviewer is another author (who I am aware of), it will also be noted. If there are any items I believe need comment, I will provide such comments.
Now concerning the three star rating I mentioned above. This review was written by another author who addressed a large number of editing problems with my novel BREAKING LIBERATOR’S SHACKLES. I will, as quickly as possible, correct editing problems with this work. As an Indie Author both the print and Kindle editions can easily and quickly be updated to assure readers are receiving the best I can provide. As an update… both the paperback and Kindle editions have been updated correcting substantial editing problems.
I appreciate this review by author, Jeff Dawson, who provided a very honest accounting of both the pros and cons of my work. In particular, I thank him for the last sentence of his review which states, “Overall, this is good read and could be a great seller and companion to “Unbroken,” by Laura Hildebrand, but for that to happen, it needs some serious work.”