Reviews and Ratings: From the Glorious to the Inglorious

fotolia_31456254_s_banner.jpgBefore getting my e-reader, I didn’t notice book reviews. I would wander the aisles of a bookstore and choose a cover that interested me, read a few pages and make a decision. Or I would pick up a recommendation from a friend or find the latest from a favorite author. Sometimes, I got something I liked and sometimes I didn’t. No reviews needed.

Then electronic reading came into my life and wow! Reviews all over the place. I started reading them. Some were glowing recommendations and some were brutal bashings. I had to make a decision on whether or not people I didn’t know were qualified to recommend a book to me. Most of the time – not in the least.

But I keep reading the reviews. And in the defense of the reader reviewers, some of them have a pretty good rating record and give relevant feedback on plot, character development and editing issues. Some of them just seem to want to slam someone with a two-star or one-star for no other reason than he or she can. The same goes for the five and four star reviews of books that truly don’t deserve it!

So what’s a reader to do? For me I’ve learned to read reviews with a critical eye and base my decisions on trying out a new author on a consensus of reviews.

Will I read or won’t I read based on nothing else? It just depends on my mood.

Now as a new writer myself, the question was whether or not to read reviews of my own work.

I did it. I couldn’t help it.

Some were good and some were bad. And some were the best! I’ve gotten critical reviews (I’m talking some two stars) that gave real feedback and I’ve actually started to work specifically on those comments.  Some of my critical reviews stated that they wish a short story was longer, for those – unfortunately, making it longer would have been an injustice to the story as I envisioned it. Those things I won’t change.

Then there were those that left me feeling really bad. According to those reviews, there was nothing salvageable in the work and I should probably never go near pen and paper again. (Okay that’s not a direct quote, but I get the feeling that was the intent.)

So in order to shore up my broken writing spirit, I looked at those reviews again with my critical reading eye and for those low ratings without content. I saw that there was no content. Simply a bashing because he or she could give me one.

For the readers out there, I hope you’ll take a consensus of ratings and reviews before deciding not to take a chance on a new writer. You may be surprised as I have been. And for the writers out there, think of the one and two star reviews as the licks we must take on our rise to the top of the bestseller list.

Happy Reading and Writing,

~Val