Leaving Reviews as a Writer

I rarely leave Amazon reviews. As a writer, I think it opens the door to bickering and unfair reviews based on envy and disrespect.

Of course, that’s just my opinion.

This is something I have been wrestling with as of late. When I read a book I didn’t like, there is a part of me that sort of wants to warn readers. Of course, just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean everyone will hate it. An example: I never liked One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I can’t stand it. Not sure why…just don’t. But I know the majority of readers enjoyed it.

However, with self publishing, I think the field shifts somewhat. I actually appreciate it when readers leave bad reviews, so long as they are justified. I myself haven’t received a lot of reviews for my books but I have been blessed with some great ones. Maybe my tune will change a bit after I receive those scathing one and two star reviews.

However, in the last three months, I have read a lot of books by self published authors. These are authors that have huge followings and are seen as leaders in the self-publishing world. Some of these have been absolutely great (might I recommend Blake Crouch’s Abandon). However, I have also read a few that were very bad. Cut out cardboard characters, terrible dialogue, predictable plots and endings that aren’t endings at all but thrown together paragraphs that made me wonder if the author was just tired of writing.

On two of these occasions, I wanted to take to Amazon and leave reviews. Reading these two titles by these two authors that are supposed to be the self-published writers’ lighthouses, I felt there needed to be some sort of warning.

But then again…who am I to leave a negative review?

So what if this one leader in self publishing (whom I have read other books by that were fantastic, by the way) cheated us out of an ending and let at least twenty typos go by (at least five of which we pretty inexcusable)? That still doesn’t really give me the right to warn readers to avoid it it…to not read this example of a “professionally done” self published book.

Or does it?

Also, these books had TONS of 5 star reviews that never mentioned the typos. Checking out some of the users’ other ratings, they seem to dole out a lot of 5 star reviews…4 and 5 star reviews almost exclusively. And since we know that paid reviews are nothing new, it makes one wonder.

What are your thoughts? Do you keep these things to yourself or take it public…at least as public as an Amazon review can be? Are there shenanigans afoot?

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4 comments

  1. I know what you mean. I don’t write reviews on Amazon either. I’ve written a few positive ones but no negative ones. Some authors would definitrly retaliate and write a negative review on one of your books. But, if you feel strongly about it or just think you have something to say, why not?
    There are some self published books that I haven’t finished (more like can’t finish) but because I didn’t spend much on these books, I can’t really be asked to write a review ‘warning’ others. However, if I invested more time and money into a work that I found disappointing, etc, I would definitely write a review.
    And of course, some people will think differently to you. I read a book full of typos, yet the majprity of the reviews given were four or five stars. I did think maybe I was being picky, but that thought didn’t last for long.
    You should just go for it. As long as you’re not being ‘mean’ for the sake of it, then do it. Some writers may be irritated by it, may write you a harsh review in return but at least you wouldn’t have been silenced.

  2. I never review books on Amazon because as a cover artist I have a commercial interest or at least my interest could be interpreted that way. If it were, I and the Author I review could be banned from Amazon. I think you, as an Author and thus in competition with other writers, are in a similar position and so I don’t recommend reviewing any books on Amazon. Save it for you blog or better still just leave it to others. It could get you into a difficult position.

  3. If I read a self-published book that blows me away, I’ll leave either a five or four star review on Amazon, because as an author I know just how much those four and five star reviews help. Rarely I’ll do the same for books by major publishers. If I like a book and would give it three stars, I won’t bother, because even though three stars means I like the book, it doesn’t look good in terms of the overall average.

  4. See, this is exactly why I plan on using a pen name when I write and why use an alias whenever I do anything online outside of my personal, real life circle of family and friends. Abusing your anonymity to troll, harass, or bully others is inherently bad (of course), but simply keeping the different facets of your life compartmentalized is a wise move. Plus, it protects your real life, internet life or lives, and professional/writing life safe from any trolling, harassment, or attacks your other lives may have attracted (usually from jerks on the internet who use their anonymity and reach as an excuse to abuse others).

    You should have the same freedom to share your opinions as anyone else. Besides, if they can’t be bothered to have the book edited and/or write a decent story, they’re pulling all the other self-published authors down when they contribute to the sea of drivel we have to wade through to find good indie lit and perpetuate the stereotype that all self-published authors write amateur crap that no real publisher would let see the light of day.

    Don’t make us spend our own money to find out they fall in that category – warn us, please. We readers willing to give the self-published a chance thank you.

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