Monday, July 26, 2010

How important are reviews?

I recently got a 5-heart review over at The Romance Studios for Nothing but Sex, plus a whole passel of great reviews from other sites, as well. I also got a 5-heart review on Jillian's Job at TRS. Oh, yeah...and a 5-heart review there on Her Own Set of Rules.

Some authors state that anything lower than a 4 or better rating is not worth showing or paying attention to. But doesn't anyone pay attention to the explanations of each rating on the review site? A good solid 3 or better means your book is GOOD. That it was worth reading, and the reviewer liked it. A 4 or better means your book is VERY GOOD. That the reviewer loves it. Would read it again for certain. Had trouble putting it down.

A 5 means you just walked on water, as far as the reviewer is concerned. Your book is a "must buy". Could not put it down even to go potty. Would fight a friend rather than lend it out.

But here is the catch...and pay big attention two reviewers will feel the same about your book. For instance, my debut book, Out of Her Dreams, was reviewed by one of Joyfully Reviewed's review staff. The reviewer liked it very much, but had a couple of "buts" to toss in, meaning that it had a minor flaw or two as far as the reviewer was concerned. But all in all, the reviewer loved the book.

Joyfully Reviewed does not "rate" a book. You can only tell by the last line or two of the review whether you just walked on water, or sank in the creek. So I figured maybe a 4.5 at any other review site would have matched that one. A few months later, a second reviewer from Joyfully Reviewed did another review on OOHD. And the sweet lady raved about the book. Adored it. Said such complimentary things, I actually blushed. Now that one was a solid 5.

Now, I do believe that getting a great review is fabulous, but if you don't happen to get one, that does not mean your book sucks and should be instantly burned. I have read books that the reviewers hated, and absolutely loved them. I try not to pay much attention to reviews before I read a book, because I want to go in with an open mind. So when I got some not so dazzling reviews on a couple of my short novels after that, I tried very hard not to feel bad. None of the reviews was under a 3.5, so I felt like I had written a good, solid book. However, when I got 4's on those same books, I felt vindicated. Not every one likes every book you write.

It seems funny in retrospect, because the one book that I got a 3.5 first review on was my best seller ever. The book sold over 800 copies the day it was released. Not one of my 5 rated books ever did so well on the first day. So if you place a great deal of stock in reviews, and feel bad about a review, my advice to you is "don't burn the book". Just get out there and promote it, regardless. There are folks out there who will love it!

Fran Lee


Amber Skyze said...

As a former reviewer I'd say don't put all your stock in reviews. Most will take the time to be objective, but all tastes are different. I might give a fantasy a 3 because it didn't pull me in, but give a contemporary a 5 because I couldn't put it down. The problem here is I'm not huge on fantasy.
Just my .02

Fran Lee said...

Thanks. I agree. My Hallie's Cats got a 3.5 from JERR, then got several 4's from other sites. Oddly enough, Cats outsold all my other books in its release month. LOL!

Katalina Leon said...

I've found that my books that receive the middling comments or reviews sell better and sell more consistently over time. Obviously readers are more forgiving than we might think and many focus on the overall feel of the story and not the tiny details we obsess

Tessie Bradford said...

The first review I received on my first book was a 3.25 and I was thrilled! That rating put it firmly in their 'Good' category and the reviewer had very positive comments. I don't buy books based on reviews but they are another great promo tool to get an author's work out there.

Fran Lee said...

Definitely, ladies! Sales are what count, but we do tend to obsess on reviews. One reviewer who was given our book to read for free. The whole idea is to get people in there purchasing them. Reviews help with promo, but sometimes don't help at all with sales. If there is no promo, ten five-rated reviews will not sell that book.

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

Reviews are great for EXPOSURE.
One woman's meat is another woman's...whatev.

Fran Lee said...

You are right, Cerise. Exposure is great. And your books are getting great reviews, ladies! Congrats!