Maria P Frino
Dealing with Reviews
Updated: May 15
This can be an author's nightmare or dream. Receiving a 1-star review can be devastating for any author, but especially so for one who self-publishes. However, if a book has nothing but 5-star reviews, this makes readers skeptical too. Dealing with reviews is sometimes tricky for authors, who need to have a thick skin not to let bad ones bother them.
Books that are self-published are marketed and publicised by the author. Once a book is written, which takes a lot of time (sometimes a year or more), the author markets the story on social media, through podcasts, local papers, and if they are lucky enough to be invited (or have the budget), on radio and television. All this is part of writing a book but it does take away from the most important part - the writing.
In a world where people rely on reviews when buying products, it is usually better if your product shows some good and bad reviews. These are taken into account when buying the product. For books, reviews have been important for many years and were given by expert reviewers in the past. This is still the case today, however, in this internet age anyone can now leave a review.
A mix of good and bad reviews gives the reader a sense of the diversity of people who enjoyed (or didn't enjoy), the story. There are ways to pay for reviews and usually, they are 5-star ones. When a book shows only 5-star reviews, this can have an adverse effect on sales. People know some of the reviews may have been bought and may only take into account the ones they find believable. This happens when an avid reader is experienced in seeing the difference, which happens more often than not on Amazon and other books sites that allow reviews.
I received a 2.5-star review from one reader but with
good constructive feedback. This is when a review is
helpful to an author.
All authors rely on reviews to help sell their books, it is another form of marketing as well as publicity. When I receive a review of less than 3, I contact the reviewer and ask for constructive feedback if they haven't left any. Sometimes they oblige. It is not always helpful to leave only a star review, especially for emerging authors. As with any profession, authors need to hone their craft and learn from their mistakes.
Reviews help the reading community to see at a glance what a book is about. Even if some reviews don't shed a good light on a particular book, it shows that the industry is transparent in how stories are perceived. Everyone, including successful authors and publishers, take note of book reviews.
Book reviews give books more visibility that in turn reach more readers. In the days when you could only read a review by buying the book, they were contained within the covers or some on the front cover, or in a newspaper, it was the popular authors who were the winners. Today, as more people are confident reviewing on various websites, more books are being seen and bought. This is a win for all authors.
Authors like to receive reviews so they can have a sense of what the reading community is looking for. This may help them with their next story and give a sense of what genre is trending at the time. For me, I appreciate it when a reader takes the time to review one of my books, it shows they care about the story and have enjoyed reading it.
Essentially, authors write books to entertain readers. Occasionally, they hope to receive a movie or TV show deal out of it too, but this only happened to a select few in the past. This is also changing with the emergence of streaming services such as Netflix, Stan, and others who are now looking for content.
In short, reviews are an important part of the book industry and if you enjoy a book, think about leaving a review because not only will the author appreciate it, but also other readers. Reviews matter to the book industry as a whole.
Maria P Frino