Thursday, September 13, 2012

Would it kill you to post a review?

There has a been a huge kerfuffle on the web lately about online book reviews. The New York Times had a story about a man who created a pay-for-reviews service that was blatantly not providing honest reviews.  That article mentioned mostly self-published authors, but there has also been some fuss about traditionally published authors creating fake online personas, not only to praise their own works but to trash other writers' books!

Let me just say that if I were going to pay for reviews or create my own, I would have many more! Getting bloggers to write reviews is not easy, and apparently not that many readers think to go online and write reviews when they finish a book. Supposedly, reviews are what sells books. Certainly, best sellers have lots of reviews (usually hundreds). But when you look at my books' Amazon rankings, what stands out is that my best seller (not counting the free book) is No Safe Haven, which has one and only one review.

Of course, that's disingenuous. NSH is selling better than my others because it's a direct sequel to The Sixth Discipline, which is free. I'm basically a book pusher. "Sure, kid, have some! It'll make you feel good, and it's free."  Of course, the next hit costs $2.99.  People are buying the second one, but they're not reviewing it!

Interestingly, I have the most reviews (nine!) for The Sixth Discipline. Perhaps people who get it for free feel somehow obligated to post a review? Although, actually, not all nine reviewers got the book for free, but more did than didn't because I gave away some review copies even before Amazon made it free.

I wonder if the fuss about bogus reviews will devalue them on Amazon? And I wonder why some people post reviews and some don't? If anyone out there feels like answering, let me know what makes you post reviews, or why you don't post them. You can leave a comment or send me an email at my address on the Contact tab.

Or don't you want to do that either?


  1. I used to write Amazon reviews but got out of the habit a while back. I think part of the reason why is that I began to stop relying on Amazon reviews myself, and it didn't seem worth it to take the time to write reviews for a site where I rarely looked at the reviews anymore. For that same reason, I've been considering getting a Goodreads account so I can start leaving reviews there, since I do look at Goodreads reviews a lot. However, it seems like every time I get ready to do that, some big kerfuffle makes me wonder if it's worth it (like the Goodreads Bullies site). Of course, my blog could end up attracting the same sort of awfulness, so my reluctance to get a Goodreads account is a bit silly I guess.

    1. I had not thought of it as a reluctance to risk incivility. It's true there are some authors who are just plain nut cases and will jump on anyone who writes anything less than a glowing review. I think the quality of reviews on Goodreads is probably a little better than on Amazon in that they tend to have more detail. And I like the feature that lets you see when your Goodreads' friends post reviews or even ratings. However, if you're worried, I think a blog is easier to control than a site like Goodreads; you can always moderate comments if needed; just be aware of Google Alerts; lots of authors use them to check for mentions of their books, which is how I found your review of THE SIXTH DISCIPLINE.