Monday, January 30, 2012

Why Reader Reviews Matter

I was riding high a few months back, enjoying lots of five star reader reviews on Amazon for Employee Relations. I didn't really think much about it, but I was totally jazzed that so many readers were enjoying the book. Then came an awful, one star review. The person said the story sucked, she despised the characters  and I was a terrible person for writing it. (Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a little, but it was pretty bad.)

I was dejected. Forget that the vast majority of those who'd bothered to write a review had given the book glowing recommendations, what stuck with me was that one person hated it.

But when I checked a few days later, another great review showed up. The reader said she was so glad she didn't listen to the previous reviewer because she absolutely loved the book. It was then I realized how much reader reviews influence purchases.

Another of my Kindle books had a single review at the time. The reader said that she didn't normally buy books without any reviews, but was glad she decided to take a chance. That got me thinking, too. Not only do good and bad reviews influence purchases, but so does the absence of reviews.

What do you think? Do reader reviews influence what books you buy? Do you leave reviews for books you purchased online? I'm starting to do more and more of them. Why? They matter.

12 comments:

Demi Alex said...

Agreed :-) Reader reviews rock!

Wendi Zwaduk said...

Hi Wynter! Long time reader and fellow author. I've had some really, I mean REALLY bad reviews. I got the "I won't read this author until she majorly improves" review. Um, how can you know I've improved until you read more of my stuff? Another one said the book sucked and was a waste. But that review sparked me to revisit the one book and write a prequel. Will it help? I dunno. It was painful to get the reviews, but reader reviews can be awesome. Hugs on the crummy one and cheers on the good one!

Wynter Daniels said...

Good point about her not knowing unless she reads your more recent work. And good luck on the prequel. If more than one reviewer give me a specific thing to improve, I try to take their advice. They are, after all, my audience.

Wendi Zwaduk said...

The prequel just came out, so we'll see what readers think. And yeah, taking their advice, even when it's not in pretty words can be useful. I try to take it anyway. :-)

Wynter Daniels said...

Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Wendi Zwaduk said...

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I really don't rely too much on reviews. I got hold of two of the worst written books I've ever read and each one was loaded with five star reviews. Now, I rely more on the samples. This gives me a better feel for the story and the author's writing style.

And, BTW, I really liked Employee Relations!

Catwoman

Wynter Daniels said...

Thanks, Catwoman! I'm so glad you liked ER. Good point about checking out samples. So much of liking or not liking a book is subjective.

Callie Croix said...

You know, I'm a bit guilty of this when I go shopping for new books. If a book at the Kindle store doesn't have a single review, I'm very leery of purchasing it. However, if I see a one star review, I usually read that to see what the main complaint was. If the better reviews outweigh the ugly ones, I usually go ahead and buy.

I'm really surprised a one star review would make you doubt yourself!!! Don't you know how awesome you are? You're an incredibly gifted (and freaking prolific) author. Just email me and I'll tell you :)

Terry Odell said...

I love reader reviews. However... I checked one of my book pages at B&N and saw that I had 16 5 star reviews (which is a lot for me). I scrolled down to read them to discover a group of people were using the review site as a personal conversation about their sick cats.

I'm torn--the ranking looks great, but what if someone skims the reviews and thinks the book deals with sick cats, or any of the other things these people talked about.

Customer Service at B&N has been totally unresponsive. So, for now I have 16 great "reviews" although only a few of them are actually about the book!

Terry
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Wynter Daniels said...

Callie - I love ya! And I think you're an awesome writer, too!

Wynter Daniels said...

Terry - that's really strange about the cats. I've seen a few comments on some of my reader reviews, but nothing so off topic as that!