Monday, June 11, 2012

The Dangers of Reading Reviews

Reviews are always wanted by authors and readers like to see them. They are impressed when they see a story has 100+ customer reviews, but are they always a good thing? 

Here are reasons readers should be cautious of reviews. 

Spoilers: This is the main reason I'm writng about reviews. Recently, I was reading a novel and at a certain point I became curious to know if other readers were reacting to the story the same way as me, I ended up going to the reviews on Amazon. Then I came across one and before I knew it, I was reading a spoiler and guess what? I don’t have to read the rest of the story now. I still might, but I’m not sure. Reviewers should not post spoilers, but the customer is not a professional reviewer, so it’s going to happen.

Inaccuracy: I have read some fantastic stories by small press and self-published authors and have noticed that some readers have slammed these books for typos and grammar errors that I have found to be minimal if anything. Some people think 2 typos are a lot. They see a couple in a self-pubbed book and say “Uh oh…here we go. It’s self published. I should have known.” I have even overheard readers on forums thinking of it as a game to find a typo in a self-published book and then label it as needing editing. The truth is there are errors in plenty of traditionally published books and professionally edited. I have found them in both. The average novel is 90K words long, so it’s difficult to not have one error. This is just one kind of inaccuracy a reviewer might mention. One review I received mentioned that the story takes place on the moon ('s Mars).

We all like something different: Some people don’t like Coke. Others don’t like chocolate. Every book has weaknesses and therefore anyone can make a book sound idiotic. If you let a negative review convince you to walk away, you might be missing out on something you will love.

Lack of reviews doesn’t mean bad: I know of a couple of novels that are excellent, but they only have one or two reviews because the author just doesn’t market well or push for reviews.

Reviews from Friends: A book could have most of their positive reviews from friends. Just because they like, it doesn't mean you will. But on the other hand, never assume this is the case. Most authors seek honest reviews.

Sample: Don’t let others make your decision. The best thing you can do is sample a book before you let any review convince you to walk away. Consider the overall ratings. What is the average? If it’s a 2 star out of 50 reviews then you might want to walk away.

Happy Reading….


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've read a lot of books by traditional publishers with typos. All books are edited by people and people make mistakes.
I'll glance at the reviews, just to be sure they aren't all one and two stars, and then decide for myself by reading the book.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Reading a sample probably is the best way to go, but who has time for that? Many "reviewers" on Amazon and such are morons, which makes things frustrating for authors. Like the kind that says, "it was well written but i dont like this genre" and then gives the book one star. Unless you're getting dozens of reviews, that can be hard to overcome.

The thing about spoilers though is that some people interpret what they read or see differently, so even if someone gives something away it might not be entirely true when you read the book.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I find reviews to be frustrating. I really liked the post that you linked to me written by that one author that said there are people out there that don't like puppies. It's so true. Everything is subjective.

Mysti said...

I love this post, Cindy! All very valid points, and this is why I try very hard not to post anything that will give the plot twists away when I do a review.

Also, I try not to look at book reviews for books I'm reading for review until I'm finished both reading AND reviewing, so my review won't be biased. Books I read for fun are another matter entirely.

Cindy said...

Thanks for the interesting comments.

Julia Hones said...

I think reading and writing good reviews is great. I love to know how others felt about a book I read. When I write a review I understand the story from new perspectives. Reviews can be thought-provoking if they are well done. They can spark interesting discussions.

Misha Gericke said...

So true. As it happens, I even suggested that a writer not read the reviews to her own book for many of the same reasons as listed above.