Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why I Stopped Writing Amazon Reviews

Writers and publishers do all sorts of things to generate Amazon reviews.

I like getting reviews, particularly the nice 5 star ones that boost my ego and make my day.

I know many authors who are friends and colleagues of mine would appreciate a review.

So, why did I stop writing them?

Good question.

I've given this a bit of thought and it boils down to this---- I am uncomfortable publicly evaluating my peers on a 1-5 scale.

Let me put it this way. Imagine you are a public school teacher. How would you feel about posting an honest review of one of your fellow teachers on a site viewed by people all around the world? Even if the colleague is one you like and respect, the whole thing seems fraught with potential problems.

Will the colleague now feel obligated to write something similar for you?

What if you only give them four stars instead of five and maybe you make a tiny criticism? Will you feel a bit awkward the next time you run into them in the hallway or teachers' lounge?

Will all the other teachers expect you to do the same for them? Or worse, will someone ask you to write a nice review for them if they write one for you?

Yet, I want to be helpful and supportive too.

What should I do? I've come up with a system that I suits me. Although I don't post reviews on Amazon or similar sites, here's what I am willing (and happy) to do.

  • Authors are always welcome on my blog to promote their books. Really, just send me an email or PM on Facebook. 
  • On Fridays, I host the Spanking Stories Book Club which features a discussion of a different spanking book each week. 
  • When I particularly enjoy a book, I often post a review (but without stars) here on my blog. I've got a couple planned so come back and see what I have to say. 
  • And, I am always willing (as time allows) to read WIPs for my colleagues and offer feedback. I'd even go so far as to say I'm pretty good at it and provide useful suggestions. Just ask. 

Is this the best solution? I don't know, but it's the one I'm comfortable with right now.

Come back tomorrow for my review of Patricia Green's The Girl With The Thistle Tattoo.

And Friday we'll be talking about Dinah McLeod's Swift Justice.


  1. I do understand what you're saying. I only post reviews to amazon and elsewhere if I can give the book 4 or 5 stars. But then I worry that my reviews won't look credible- like I just love everything I read. I definitely do not love everything I read. It sounds like you have come up with a good system!

    1. Thanks, Casey! It is such a tricky thing, I think. You're right, if you only give 4 or 5 star reviews, then do you lose credibility? And then there is the issue of authors reviewing the work of other authors. I think some readers wonder if we are all in cahoots pumping up each others books.

  2. You've made some great points. If I like a story I want to give it 5 stars even if I notice some problems or ways it could be improved. And if I give a good book 5 stars, what do I do if their next book is truly fantastic? Where do I go from there? At the same time as a new author I long for reviews on Amazon where people will see who are not in our 'spanko' groups. It's hard to find the right balance.

    1. Good point PK. Maybe I need to do a survey on how much influence reveiws have on readers. In our genre, so few people leave review (I assume for fear of outing themselves) that I don't know if it matters more or less if you have reviews. When I'm scrolling through Amazon and I see a book with a large number of reviews (regardless of stars) it does get my attention.

  3. I get what you're saying in that I don't like the star system. It is used like a FB like and dislike where 1 star is dislike and 5 is like. In between means what? Reviews should be about critical appraisal. It is perfectly feasible to write a positive appraisal of a book - well written and plotted - and not like it. It would be the same as hearing a brilliant piece of music, well performed and executed but in a genre I don't enjoy. I have critiqued books that are not in genres I read but I can still appreciate the quality of writing.

    Generally speaking if I think something doesn't deserve a good review (ie not 3-5 stars) I don't write one. If you're not getting reviews is that because people aren't rating your book highly or because they don't want it to appear on their Amazon page? Its a vicious circle to be stuck in. Goodreads I'm finding more useful as it isn't linked to purchases.

    Reviews which do annoy me are those where they start to read the book, decide its not for them and still feel the urge to sound off. This happens more with ebooks because printed books allow you to dip in and out at different places before purchasing. Sometimes the first free 10-15% is misleading in content.

    1. The whole review thing is so unpredictable. I've seen people say they love a book in the body of the review and give it 3 stars. I agree that a book can be well written but maybe I still don't like the characters. And vice versa. I've read some books that made my head almost explode due to poor editing, but I kept going because I liked the story.

    2. Grrr... I wrote this long response and it's gone... poof! Gah!

  4. I think it is all so subjective anyway. When I read a review I want to know about the story...what the reviewer liked. I often disagree with how spanking books are reviewed. Sometimes I believe someone gives a spanking book a poor review because they are uncomfortable with enjoying the genre. Therefore I read based on authors and the storyline. Most of the time I choose after I read an excerpt!

  5. You raise a very real issue. And the more connected authors become, the bigger problem it is. I know most of the authors I review.

    1. It is a sticky wicket, I think. I suppose that's why I try to avoid it. Call me chicken.


I love getting feedback. Thank you for taking the time to comment!